My Budget Boot Camp Day 8: What To Do About Health Insurance?

This month I’m going over our budget and working hard to get things in line so we can pay off our debt as fast as possible! If you’re just joining in (or catching up), check out the topics I’ve already covered in the first seven days:

Day 1:The Secret Power of Giving

Day 2: Giving on a Budget

Day 3: Got a Lazy Budget Sitting on the Couch?

Day 4: Budget Basics and My Outline

Day 5: The (Warm) Roof Over My Head

Day 6: Keeping Child Care From Being a Budget Drain

Day 7: Keeping the Family Healthy

Today’s topic? Health insurance- a pretty relevant topic these days since Obama’s healthcare bill was passed into law, and soon we will all be required to have some sort of health coverage.

So- what to do about health insurance?

Hopefully you work for an awesome company that provides inexpensive or totally free coverage to you and your dependents. Mike does get health insurance- an HSA account- through his job, and that is a really nice benefit! Olivia and I, however, would have to pay upwards of $300 a month to included in his plan. We just don’t have the budget.

I know for a fact that our income qualifies us to have Olivia covered by Medicaid, but that is another route we just don’t want to go. Our government is already so deep in debt, there is no way I want them in charge of my family’s healthcare if I can help it. I am all for it when people genuinely need the services and don’t have any other options, but it is so easy to just get used to getting things handed to us for free. I don’t want to be a part of what I see to be an epidemic of social services reliance, and in some cases, abuse.

So I’ve basically ruled out traditional health insurance coverage and medicaid… is there another option?

Yes ma’am there is! It’s called Medi-Share.

Medi-Share bannerPhoto Credit

What in the world is medi-share? Well it is basically a non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to helping believers share each others’ medical bills (kind of a modern day working of the book of Acts??). It works very similarly to traditional insurance (although it is not insurance) in that you pay a monthly “premium,” and you have a deductible, the amount of which is determined by how much your premium is.

The way it works is this: when you join, you get an account with a credit union set up by Medi-Share and each month you pay a “premium.” This money is then transferred from your account and used to pay another members’ medical bills as they come up. Then, if you ever have a medical bill, your bills are covered by other members’ monthly “premiums.” Like I said, it is not insurance, although members will be exempt from having to buy traditional insurance once the new healthcare bill goes into effect.

The benefits?

  • There is a wide range of options, and they are hands-down much cheaper than regular insurance. Olivia and I have a $3500 deductible, which is pretty close to the deductible we would have had if we chose to be covered by my husband’s insurance plan, and we pay $137 a month. Total. I think the lowest deductible amount for a family is $1250, $500 if you are single, and you can figure out what your monthly payment would be here.
  • A Reasonable co-pay. Ours is $35 a visit, $135 for the ER. I think that is pretty standard for all members,
  • They make it fair. Medi-Share require members to maintain a healthy BMI, and they also do not allow smoking or alcohol abuse. These rules are not necessarily a moral judgement- they just want to make sure the program is as fair to its members as possible. In fact, they even have a health incentive to encourage a healthy lifestyle.
  • You have the option to help others (or receive help yourself). In case something comes up that isn’t covered by Medi-Share, they have a way for members to apply to receive extra gifts and donations from other members. It’s pretty cool, I think!
  • You can pray for other members. In your online account, there is a special board just for posting prayer requests. Members who make a pledge to pray for the specific needs of another member get a “Prayer Warrior” badge on the site. You also get the name of the person who is receiving your monthly payment (although not the medical details), and you have the option to send them an email to encourage them.
  • Maternity is covered. This one is a big one for me since I am prime baby-bearing age! The deductible amount is $500 more than your regular amount, but it’s a small price to pay considering how expensive it is to get maternity coverage the traditional way.
  • Discounted prescriptions. When you join Medi-Share you get discounts on prescriptions- the same ones that insurance companies receive. We don’t have prescriptions, so I have no idea what the discounts are personally.
  • Accepted by most doctors. Medi-Share is a part of the PHCS network, a preferred provider network. All of the doctors I had before joining accept Medi-Share, and looking at the online search tool I’m pretty sure just about every other doctor in the area do too.

Medi-share Might Not Be for You If…

  • You go to the doctor’s office for basic visits…a lot. If you are in there all the time, you might need some more comprehensive coverage than Medi-Share has to offer. Read yesterday’s post for some of my own thoughts about doctors’ visits, and how to keep yourself from having to make the trek to the office regularly!

Otherwise, if you need health coverage and want a cheaper option, Medi-Share just might be for you! Oh and if you do decide to sign up? Let me know. I can get a discount for people I refer. 🙂

How about you? Have you found yourself some good coverage for cheap? Do have any experience with Medi-Share you want to share (good or bad)? Leave a comment!

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13 thoughts on “My Budget Boot Camp Day 8: What To Do About Health Insurance?

  1. Pingback: My Budget Boot Camp Day 7: Keeping the Family Healthy « The Debt Free Family

  2. Pingback: My Budget Boot Camp Day 4: Budget Basics and My Outline « The Debt Free Family

  3. Sam and I looked into medi-share when we had to buy private coverage for a year. It is a really cool concept, with one caveat- it is not considered to be insurance by other companies. Why does this matter? If someone being covered by medi-share got a disease or chronic illness and then switched over to private insurance (because of a new job, etc.) that disease would be considered a pre-existing condition. Pre-existing conditions are a problem if you have gone more than a certain number of days without insurance (something like 60 I think) because then the new insurance won’t cover that condition.

    It may be worth it to be enrolled in Medicaide as a back-up just because of the pre-existing condition issue, but I’m not sure :).

    • Thanks, Amanda! That never occurred to me that since it is not insurance, if I were to get back on a traditional plan in the future, they would not count Medi-Share as previous coverage. I’m also wondering- I’m not a big expert on the new health care bill, but I believe that they are working to make it so that insurance companies cannot deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I do hope that if that is true, they are going to put some of the anti-abuse measures into place, like if you opt-out of insurance you can’t just suddenly decide to opt-in because you get a disease you suddenly want covered. But since Medi-Share is allowable by the new law, I bet they would allow you to switch to regular insurance if the need arose. I need to look into that! Best case scenario is that Mike gets an awesome job soon and Olivia and I are both covered by his health insurance benefits. Worst case- I’m stuck with Medi-Share forever, which honestly wouldn’t be too bad.

      • Yeh, I’ve been wondering about the impact of the new law on medi-share. Have you heard anything about that? There was some talk about how medi-share type plans would basically be outlawed because of the mandate in the bill that ALL Americans must have health insurance (starting in 2014 I think) and apparently medi-share is not technically considered insurance. I am going to have to look into those details more… (political science nerd in me can’t help it:))

      • I do know for sure that Medi-Share members are legally exempt from the law. They state that like crazy all over the website and on their literature.

  4. Pingback: My Budget Boot Camp Day 9: All Those Other Insurance Needs I’ve Got « The Debt Free Family

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  6. Pingback: My Budget Boot Camp Day 11: Hitting the Road « The Debt Free Family

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  8. Pingback: My Budget Boot Camp Day 13: My (Green) Trick for Saving Money While Keeping Me and My House Clean « The Debt Free Family

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