January 31st is my last day as a benefited employee with Cairn University, February 1st is my first day full-time for Calvary Community Church of Penndel. One of the biggest considerations this involves is the change in my health insurance. For the last several years I have been blessed with a generous health insurance plan from Cairn University, now moving to a small church – the challenges of health insurance rest on my shoulders. So how should I proceed? I figured I’d share what I’ve learned in my research process thus far.
Conclusion: Too Expensive.
One option, including in Pennsylvania, is to convert one’s existing group/employer insurance into individual insurance. I talked to Keystone Independence Blue Cross – my current insurer and was informed insurance would cost around $600/mo. to maintain via conversion. Yup, a little higher than I’d like to pay.
Conclusion: Too Expensive.
Charity works full-time and has medical benefits, so another popular option would be to hop on to her plan. While she receives great subsidized benefits through her employer, the employer doesn’t appear to offer any subsidies for spouses, so the cost for the insurance would be slightly under $600/mo.
Conclusion: Not Eligible.
Another option is to look for a brand new individual insurance provider. One popular guide in this area is ehealthinsurance. I’m presented with plans from Aetna, Independence Blue Cross, HealthAmericaOne, and UnitedHealthOne. Prices start at $49/mo. and range up to $262/mo. Not bad, but I wonder if my pre-existing conditions will cause rates to race through the roof.
Update: I did look into plans through ehealthinsurance and after a significant waiting period (a few weeks) received a polite notice from Independence Blue Cross that my application was denied “based on your medical history…” The notice did inform me that I was eligible for some guaranteed coverage plans (but looks like premiums would be around $500/mo.) and for the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan but this program is a government program which has been suspended.
Some folks who have lower income may also qualify for other options such as the IBX Special Care program.
Health Cost Sharing?
My final option is health cost sharing – this isn’t strictly speaking health insurance. Rather it is a non-profit that coordinates cost sharing amongst its membership. There are three major providers in the United States – and all three are Christian organizations.
This is probably the largest non-profit health care cost sharing program. It was founded in 2003 and currently has 49,500 members. The website is slick, as is their process which is fairly streamlined. Costs are relatively low at $166/mo. for a single individual.
(And yes, I do get $200 for each referral I send to Medi-Share…that is pretty cool)
Currently has over 21,000 members and was founded in 1991. Pricing is $150/mo. for an individual. Seems to be fairly manual and old-school in its methods of cost distribution.
This organization is the one I’ve heard the least about – but apparently Mike Huckabee likes them. They seem to have the most generous provisions regarding pre-existing conditions and their “Gold Level” for an individual is $150/mo.
I also realize that ObamaCare is soon coming onto the playing field. In October of this year (2013) we can expect exchanges to open and health insurance to become more widely available and affordable (in part due to government subsidies). It seems to me that whatever choice I make, it is likely that it will be dramatically affected by what happens in October 2013 and that I’ll need to shop again around that time.
I’m really attracted to the non-profit sharing model – I like the idea of helping others and I’m a fan of non-profit health insurance. While the sharing model isn’t health insurance, it is similar in some ways. I’m leaning towards using them, but am also going to do due diligence with one or two of the recommendations from eHealthInsurance as well. I’m particularly interested in an account with Independence Blue Cross, as I’d like to keep my access to their electronic health records interface, and I am familiar with their process.
General Health Insurance Bibliography
- John E. Girouard. Capitalist Case For Nonprofit Health Insurance. Forbes, 10/12/09. – Girouard suggests that the best economic decision for the country is to implement nonprofit health insurance – partially through government regulation.
- Wendell Potter. OPINION: Could nonprofit health insurance plans be the real reformers? Public Integrity, 5/29/12. – Potter was a vocal critic of the idea of non-profit CO-OPs providing an alternative to established health care providers – but now he admits he might have been wrong.
- Steven Hill. Non-Profit vs. For-Profit Health Care: How to Win the Looming Battle Over Cost Control. The Washington Monthly, 5/27/11. – Hill advocates for a European-style health insurance system with non-profit providers combined with cost controls. Suggests America’s healthcare is significantly inferior to European-style healthcare.
- Harry Bradford. Aurora Health Care Says It Will Lay Off Employees Because of Obamacare. Huffington Post, 1/27/13. – Non-Profit health insurance companies – those that are supposed to be helped by Obamacare are claiming in some instances to be taking a hit – including Aurora.
- Associated Press. Buying Your Own Health Insurance? Starting This Fall, You’ll Want to Check Out the Exchange. Washington Post, 1/27/13. – Explains what health exchanges are, when they will be implemented, and why they matter to the average consumer.
- Elizabeth O’Brien. Get Ready for Health-Care Reform Changes. MarketWatch, 1/25/13. – General overview of the healthcare exchanges.
- How the Health Care Overhaul Affects You. daveramsey.com, 3/22/10.
Medical Cost Sharing Bibliography
- Nancy Metcalf. Should We Sign Up For a ‘Health-Care Sharing Ministry’? Consumer Reports, 7/11/11.
- Jeff Brady. Christian Groups Find Way Around High Health Costs. NPR, 3/12/10.
In my research I used the following search terms among others: health coop, nonprofit health insurance, nonprofit healthcare, nonprofit health insurance cooperative, health insurance, healthcare cost sharing.