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health cost-sharing plans - thoughts?

Heaven help me, I am seriously considering an HCSP (health-care sharing plan). For realz.

So I missed the deadline to sign up for health insurance through the ACA marketplace. The simple explanation is due to a technical snafu, but equally it's because I couldn't bring myself to pay what felt increasingly like a penalty for working at a job that didn't provide health insurance.

At my income the "bronze" plans would have cost just under $300/mo, and the silver just over $500. Bronze was doable, barely, but as I understood it, outside of preventive services, I'd have to rack up about $7500 in bills before it would cover anything - on top of the monthly fee. I couldn't imagine having that much medical expense; better, in purely selfish terms, to sock $300 a month in a savings account and pay out of pocket and just plan on paying the tax fee for not having insurance.

I'd looked at HCSP's in the past, mainly just out of curiosity. They sidestep a lot of the bureaucracy, and they're non-profits which appeals to me. They were also billed as a Christian alternative, meaning you had to live a certain "lifestyle" (no smoking, drinking, extramarital sex), which raised all kinds of privacy concerns for me. Also I just didn't like the idea of having my lifestyle or faith be judged before I got to participate, on general principles. And and, they tended to only "share" (offer reimbursement) for pretty high amounts.

So I like the principle, but I did have some Concerns with a capital 'c'.

Anyway, when I didn't sign up the website that had been pinging me with reminders now sent a link to an HCSP. And it's very upfront, this is not health insurance, it does not cover all the areas ACA plans are required to (notably, mental health and drug rehab). It is religious in nature but this isn't emphasized, and the values statement you're supposed to accept is so generic, if you believe in God at all I don't see you having a problem agreeing to it. I certainly could.

What's interesting is, the way it's described it seems pretty good for the routine stuff. You get for instance five visits to a primary care doctor at $20 per visit, and that includes any labs they order. Drugs too - you can get some very generous rates (about $10/mo/Rx for mine), all before you hit your deductible. The problem is when you need to go beyond that: with the plan I'm looking at you have to pay the first $10k per incident yourself, and it caps out at I think $150k. So for instance if I fall and break my leg, I'm in trouble. ACA plans, true "insurance," tended to have lower deductibles and higher per-incident caps, meaning if I need something beyond routine office visits, I'd be better off.

On the other hand, I'm walking around without insurance at all right now. So... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Just being able to get back on some medicine I'd stopped taking because I couldn't afford to see a doctor, I think would be a big step toward improving my life quality.

And... I'm rambling. Also hating myself a bit for considering what essentially feels like a sell-out (buying a cheap plan to manage my own out of pocket costs rather than paying my "due" to support others who can't afford it). I'm also beyond frustrated that we (meaning I) have to make these choices. But equally, the one thing holding me back is the fact they charge an application fee ($125 on top of the first month's premium) to join up, and there's a part of me worried it's somehow a scam. On paper at least, it seems simple and commonsensical, and really quite good.

I'm curious... anyone have experience with these kinds of plans?

This entry was originally posted at https://marta-bee.dreamwidth.org/13401.html. Please comment there using OpenID.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 3rd, 2018 12:40 pm (UTC)
I don't know about the HCSP, but understand your nervousness about walking around without health insurance. I had Medi-Cal (low/no income California Medicaid) until I moved to New Jersey in August, and went through four months of applications and paperwork before being accepted in New Jersey. Not having health insurance for those months was nerve racking. But this year I might be self employed (bringing in income for the first time since 2014) which will jeopardize it if my income rises above a certain level. What a stressful and surreal process for some of us just to take care of our health properly!
Feb. 3rd, 2018 03:43 pm (UTC)
My late mother-in-law had some sort of plan like that back about 10 years ago, a couple of them, actually. One did a fairly good job of reimbursing her for expenses but the other company, which I can't recall the name of and neither did hubby when I asked, left several very large bills unpaid and she had to resort to arranging with the hospital to make payments (fortunately, they did). Of course, this was all over 10 years ago and things may have changed, but I would do a lot of research into the company--check with your state's Secretary of State, check online reviews, check the BBB, check your state's insurance commission. Sadly, people of faith can be very gullible and far too trusting and there've been scam artists swooping in to take advantage.
Feb. 3rd, 2018 09:34 pm (UTC)
I've never heard of an HCSP, but can see the appeal. My state doesn't belong to the National health plan, but has it's own, rather like California does. It's still expensive, but with DH's medications, it pays for itself. In your case, I'd be doing a LOT of research before diving into something that may not actually have your back. I'd also ask friends and maybe co-workers about what plans they have. You might have missed your window of opportunity, but where there's a door, there are cracks to peer through.

Good luck, no matter what you decide. Health care in this country is a nightmare.

- Erulisse (one L)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )



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