One of the most highly discussed items that is currently impacting educators across the country is the rising cost of health care. Insurance plans that school districts are able to provide include extremely high deductibles and very high premiums (especially if you are carrying your children or entire family). Today, I want to share my personal experience with health insurance alternatives and see if it has the potential to help you reduce your health care costs.
When I began teaching in 2006, the cost of my monthly premium for an upgraded health insurance plan was $6 per month. Yes, it’s hard to believe! I paid $6 per month with a $1,500 deductible…it seems like those were the good ole days. Today, many teachers around the country, and definitely here in Texas, are lucky to pay less than $300 per month with a $5,000 deductible. My, how times have changed.
I wanted to write a post about my personal experience using a health insurance alternative and how it has positively impacted my family’s budget, as well as our experience when using the benefits. If, after reading it all, you find this helpful and think it would work for your family, then I would greatly appreciate you using my referral link. This is not sponsored in any way– I just know it is a current struggle for many families and wanted to share my experience.
Health Insurance Alternatives for Teachers (and Others)
What is a health insurance alternative?
The health insurance alternative that my family and I use is called Medi-Share. It is referred to as a “health care sharing ministry” because it truly is different than insurance. The organization pools together the monthly “shares” of its members and then uses that money to pay the health care bills of its members.
There are several other health care sharing ministries, but I only know Medi-Share from personal experience. I know health care is very serious and would never want to share information that I haven’t personally experienced.
Who is it not for?
Since this is not traditional health insurance, there are several stipulations that members have to abide by in order to qualify for medical sharing. This is not regulated by the government like traditional health insurance and, thus, it really isn’t for everyone. In fact, we have even been quite frustrated with a few of the stipulations that personally impacted us with our adoption.
- If you have complicated pre-existing conditions, then this isn’t for you. I don’t think it hurts to apply, but there is a very thorough health questionnaire that you must submit.
- If you are a single person without a spouse or kids, then likely the costs will be comparable to that which your district offers. Again, it might be worth checking out, but the savings may be less.
- If you don’t agree with their statement of faith, then this won’t work for you and/or your family. This is a faith-based ministry.
Who is it for?
- If you are generally healthy, then this might be a great option for you to lower your health care costs.
- If you have children, then the lower monthly shares are going to be very helpful, as the rate is the same for three or more people within the family. When we added our second son, our costs remained the same.
- If you have a healthy blood pressure and weight, then you might benefit from their health incentive, which reduces the monthly share by 20%.
- If you don’t visit the doctor very often, and really only want something for unexpected events, then this will work for you.
- If you have the cash to pay for small routine doctor visits, then you will be able to negotiate a cash discount.
- If you can be organized about any health events and don’t mind doing some of the phone calls to educate hospital billing, then you’ll do well with this alternative. Since it is different, most billing departments are not familiar with the procedures.
Why IS A HEALTH INSURANCE ALTERNATIVE beneficial?
I have seen time and time again the cost of health insurance rise, and the local school districts have maxed out their ability to contribute; thus, the cost is passed on. I hate that education is poorly funded and that educators are not fairly compensated. If Medi-Share or another health insurance alternative would work for you, then I would encourage you to consider it. I am confident that it would increase your monthly take-home pay.
My personal experience
My family and I have been members with Medi-Share since 2017. We have learned the different terminology, have had our fair share of health events, and have visited the doctor several times, so I feel fairly confident sharing our experience. I know that when we were investigating this option, it almost felt like it was too good to be true.
Ultimately, we looked into health insurance alternatives when my husband’s job changed. We had been fortunate to carry my son on his insurance and then to carry my family as I started to spend more time on Maneuvering the Middle and with our son. When we looked into other options, we found them to be very limited here in Texas. We didn’t qualify for subsidies through the Affordable Care Act, and even if we did pay the high premiums, we wouldn’t be able to be seen by any of our current doctors. In fact, we learned later that our local children’s hospital didn’t even take the health exchange policy.
We settled on Medi-Share based on the personal experience of some of our friends in January of 2017. Later that year, we had an unexpected health event when my son began having seizures. There was an ambulance ride, an ER visit, two nights at the local children’s hospital, a sedated MRI, and EEGs to determine the cause of the seizures. Our total bill came to roughly $30,000. It was then that I really began to get nervous about the hospital bills and how the sharing actually worked.
My husband took on the responsibility of compiling the bills and communicating between the hospital and Medi-Share. It definitely took time, so I don’t want to act like it was easy peasy. Most of that was ensuring that the correct forms were being sent to Medi-Share and educating the billing department on how Medi-Share worked.
When all was said and done, we paid our “annual household portion” (the equivalent of maximum out-of-pocket) and moved on. Medi-Share ensured that the hospital and doctors got paid, and we are grateful for them.
How much do we pay?
We personally have chosen a plan that works well for our family financially and cover any small doctor visits on our own and take the cash discount. We are a family of four and do qualify for the health incentive. We pay $318 for our monthly share and have an $8,000 annual household portion (all of our families costs combined). While that isn’t cheap, I know that my neighbor who was insured through a local school district paid closer to $900 a month for his family with a similar maximum out-of-pocket.
We have chosen this by basically doing the simple math to figure, in the event of an emergency, what our best option is. Typically, our pediatrician sick visits run us about $80. We budget a small amount for visits to the doctor.
What do WE do differently WITH A HEALTH INSURANCE ALTERNATIVE?
- I will say that when choosing a new doctor or agreeing to treatment, I do ask the cost involved. I think Medi-Share has helped me to become a wiser consumer in the health care field.
- My husband and I use MDLive (like Teledoc) that is included in our share for basic colds and allergy-related illnesses.
I hope that my story has given you some ideas or something to consider if you are looking for health insurance alternatives. It is so unfortunate that the costs have become what they are, but I hope this gives you a little bit of encouragement as to what options are out there.
If you do decide to apply, then I would greatly appreciate if you would use my referral link. I will receive a $100 in the event you decide to join and are a member for three months. Any member can then refer a friend and receive the same benefits.