Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Health and Insurance

First of all, this is not going to be a post about any kind of political health care topic. This is a post about our family. We are pretty healthy people. We hardly ever go to the doctor, we try every home remedy and dietary change and supplement before we consult for medication. Corey went to the hospital recently for his kidney stone and it was the first time he had been to a hospital in years. The first time he had a kidney stone he just went to the local walk-in clinic.
I, of course, have been to the hospital more recently because of the miscarriage, but before that it was rare...and one occasion where I also visited the walk-in clinic. The kids haven't seen a doctor in a while. Even the times when we did, it turned out to be nothing anyway.

I have been thinking more and more about the almost $900 that is being spent PER MONTH for us to have health insurance. I have felt more and more that it is not money well spent. Wow, what we could have done with $900 cash each month toward paying things off! Ugh! It makes my head spin. The kids and Corey currently have Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia.

I have Kaiser Permanente. A couple of weeks ago we applied for Corey and the kids to change over to Kaiser because it would be about $400 cheaper/month and we liked them throughout the December experiences I had with them. (as much as you can like an insurance company anyway)

We found out Monday that Corey was not approved. We haven't received the letter explaining the reasons yet, but we did have the option of adding the kids. We may or may not do that.
Another option that we had looked into before we applied for Kaiser, was this organization:

This is not a health insurance company. It is a Christian health share ministry. Bethany's parents have used this organization successfully for years. Basically, you sign up and send your monthly "premium" to other members each month to cover their medical needs. For example, if we visited the ER, we would tell them we are self pay (which evidently gets you an automatic 50% discount on costs up front in most cases) and then you pay for it (a relative amount of cash flow is necessary or it works out through billing with the hospital or doctor). Then you send the bills to Samaritan Ministries, they divide up your need among families and they are notified whom to send their monthly "share" to. Your costs are covered after $300 up to $100,000. (there is also an additional plan you can add which covers amounts over that, which really isn't that much maybe $30/month more?)

This sounds way too good to be true, right? Well...I thought so. But, I have googled them and read about them and everything checks out. I even know several more families locally who participate and talked to one of them on the phone this week. She is the wife of a pastor and is about to have her 4th child this month. She has used them for about 5 years and they have always been very pleased and received their money within 1-2 months of sending in the bills. They also have only had to send in claims 3-4 times at all besides pregnancies. Another family (10 years with the organization) said they filed a claim for a kidney stone surgery and received even above and beyond the $$ they needed which they sent on to another family. (what they ask you to do in good faith).
The problem with this kind of thing is that it requires a big step of faith. If you send in a need they send you a checklist of all the families that are supposed to be sending you their share, and you report if someone doesn't (which I have not personally heard or read about happening) but if it does happen they send your need to another family and the "non-participating" family is kicked out of the program (or some kind of action). Another thing is that they ask you to pray for the need you are sending money for that month. And send a card or letter of encouragement for the situation. The pastor's wife I talked to said she got cards of congratulations, etc when filing a labor/delivery need.

So...long story short, we are seriously considering this path.

For Corey and the kids.

The decision is a big one because we would have to be more diligent in putting aside money for the $300 base that you are automatically responsible for. And, have the ability to pay the immediate downpayment that hospitals require if you walk in with no insurance. But, another thing I have read is that people who participate in this program testify to having less health problems and accidents, just because they are stepping out in faith in such a huge way and helping others.
That's where we are right now. I know over the past few years we have literally "thrown away" thousands of dollars in premiums. Never used. I am almost certain that any benefits we have received have certainly not outweighed the premiums spent!

We are considering still keeping Kaiser for me for the time being for various reasons, not excluding future pregnancy and just for peace of mind in that area. But for Corey and the kids it really seems like a good option. Especially since we have the local clinics who will see you for $40 and with cheap/generic prescriptions available everywhere now. The cost for Corey and the kids per month is $172!!!! Unbelievable. And to know each month we would send that money directly to a family for their need 100% and also be part of a prayer ministry for others.....
But, to be fair, we really haven't made up our mind yet. We are praying about it. Just wanted to get all my thoughts out here.... and see what others thoughts would be....


Andy's Bethy said...

You already know what I think. Love you!

The Unlikely Homeschooler said...

wow...that is interesting. I heard about Samaritan for the first time this summer from missionary friends. But didn't get all the details from her. VERY interesting for sure!! My husband is self-employed so we pay a small fortune for insurance. Even though we did go with the 'worst' insurance for the smallest monthly payment, but we pay a lot in co-pay, etc....but like you, we are RARELY sick to the point it requires a Dr's visit.
So this is interesting for sure!

thanks for sharing!!!