I Paid Cash! :: Medical Expenses With No Insurance

Testimony submitted by reader, Jody

About four years ago I began to have terrible pain in my lower abdomen. I had been diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, an “incurable disease” ten years prior to that, and knew that because of this, my chances for developing colon cancer were greatly increased. After much prayer I decided to consult with a doctor, despite the fact that I had no health insurance.

How I Saved

I was blessed to find a doctor who only charges forty dollars per visit if you are paying out of pocket. She spent more time talking with me than any doctor I have ever interacted with. She prescribed a CT scan to find out what was going on. Rather than just heading to the hospital to get this done, I went home and opened up the Yellow Pages.

I found about four or five facilities that did the CT scan procedure and called to find out how much they would charge me. The prices varied from over $1000 to about $600. When I told the place that was going to charge $600 that I would be paying cash, they reduced the price to $500.

I made an appointment to have the scan done with them. Then the morning of the procedure my brother suggested that I call and ask, “If I pay the cash today when I come in, how much will you charge me?”

I was really embarrassed to make that call. I honestly did not want to. But I did it and instead of them laughing at me, they reduced the bill by another $100!

Hooray! They even seemed rather amazed when I handed over the money that day.

What I Learned

  • Even though I am a patient, I am still a consumer and should shop around.
  • Medical facilities spend a lot of time and money trying to get people to pay their bills. You will save them that hassle by paying up front.
  • It never hurts to ask!

What I Gained

I waited for the results and was very relieved to find that the pain was not caused by a tumor, but an ovarian cyst, which eventually went away.

I am so thankful for the wisdom and guidance that the Lord has given me as He has led me through this illness. It has been quite a journey, and I have definitely received more than a bit of scorn for my choice not to carry insurance — especially considering my condition. For now, I do not believe that that is a burden that He has called me to bear, so I am trusting Him and rejoicing in His faithfulness as He continues to heal me.*

Every year I have been getting better from this so-called “incurable disease”, and I rejoice at the words of the song by Joseph H. Gilmore:

“He leadeth me, Oh blessed thought! Oh words with heavenly comfort fraught!
Whatever I do, wherever I be, Still ’tis God’s hand that leadeth me!
He leadeth me, he leadeth me, By his own hand he leadeth me:
His faithful follower I would be, For by His hand he leadeth me.”

I Paid Cash for Medical ExpensesPsalm 68:6 says, “God setteth the solitary in families”. He has truly done this with Jody by transplanting this Midwesterner to Texas to live with a family of nine and help with their home business.

________________
*Note from Crystal: While I completely respect Jody’s decision to not carry health insurance, my husband and I would strongly encourage you to prayerfully consider health insurance as a big priority in your budget. We’ve seen families whose finances have been destroyed by being hit with unexpected medical bills. We believe strongly in trusting in the Lord, but we also see carrying health insurance as being wise stewards of the resources God has given us.

Please note that comments which are discussing political views on healthcare, bashing other reader’s decisions or which are deemed to be inappropriate will be deleted. Let’s keep the discussion cordial and focused on the topic at hand.

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Comments

  1. says

    Hey – That’s “MY” Jody! So fun to see her article here…she has come so far health-wise, and gives God the glory. Yay!

    Hey, Jody – if you read this – I know I’m “it” in phone tag. =)

  2. says

    Thankful to have insurance through our employers – the kids and I are covered by a high deductible plan with my company and my husband gets free coverage as a state employee. And I was very thankful last year when DH lost his job and I was able to move the family to my company’s group coverage without any issues. Which was a good thing because a few months later, DH was having surgery to have some questionable glands removed (cancer free thank God!).

    Mary Ellen

  3. Mary says

    My husband and I married young and before we found our financial footing we were blessed to learn we were expecting. We did have health insurance through my employer. Our baby boy was born 3 months early due to complications of Trisomy 21 (Down’s Syndrome). He lived in the NICU for 19 days before passing away from multiple system failure related to his heart defect and extreme prematurity. Total cost was over $250,000 for his 19 days of life. Health insurance paid for all of it except about $40,000 which was excluded for being “experimental” or was out of network. $40K in medical debt with emotional trauma on top of it is not the way to start a marriage, but it could have been so much worse without the health insurance. We thought we would have normal, healthy children just like everyone else… indeed we did have two more children (we’ve had three in three years!) :) but I am just so grateful that we are working to pay off $40K instead of $250,000!!! Insurance is just that —- protection for life’s little (or giant) curveballs!

  4. says

    Medi-Share is another Christian insurance alternative. You pay your bills upfront for the first $X amount (depending on your income and family size) and then the rest of your bills for your entire family are covered for the rest of the year, even if it’s a catastrophic amount.

    http://mychristiancare.org/medi-share/

  5. Christine says

    I appreciate this post. As a physician, I would personally never recommend going without health insurance if possible. But I also know that getting health insurance isn’t always possible and that there are a lot of programs out their to help people with their bills. Even with health insurance a serious illness can bankrupt nearly anyone. It’s an honest reality of our health care system.

    That being said, for routine problems, surgeries etc, costs do climb quickly. Many people now have high deductable health plans, as do we. I’d encourage those who do to look into HSAs. The government allows people with high-deductible plans (yes, there’s a specific monetary definition. You’ll need to double check your insurance and the rules to see if you qualify) to set aside a limited amount of money annually from pre-tax dollars and this sum rolls over from year to year. If you get health insurance in the future with a lower deductible, you can no longer add money to your account, but you may continue to use the money already in your account until it is gone. The money can be used on any qualifying medical expenses. It’s a great way to save money while paying for medical expenses out of pocket. Additionally, your employer does not need to offer an HSA account or be involved in any way. There are a couple other accounts (FSA, MSA) that involve employers that people might consider and you can’t have more than one account, but others are offered by employers and HSAs are open to anyone with qualifying health insurance.

  6. Marion says

    We agree 100% with Crystal and have insurance. We also offer insurance to all our employees for free and a reduced rate for their families as well. It cost us a ton off the bottom line but for us it’s truly worth it!

    I’m sure someone might have said this already. Even if you do have insurance always asked for a discount for paying cash up front. With our first 2 children we had a very high deductible and had to pay 20% after that. I was able to save $100s of dollars just calling who we owed and asking for a discount. Many times it was only 20% but that adds up!

    • says

      @Marion, That is really awesome that you offer your employees health care. So many companies are struggling with that. Have you also looked into offering them (at no cost to your business) a supplemental insurance plan? So many employees really do find it valuable and consider it a benefit to their job. I know I did when I was an employee (yes, I’m now with Aflac, but I had a policy for 8 years at my former employer and was happy to pay for it out of my paycheck pretax).

      And you’re right – cash rates can sometimes even be cheaper than deductibles that have to be met! :)

  7. Jessica says

    I am a member of Christian Healthcare Ministries and recently gave birth to our third child. After all of the bills were taken care of, I was very interested to discover that we saved money by NOT having me covered under my husband’s insurance. Our OOP cost was about $1900.00 after the bills that could be shared by CHM. If I had my husband’s BCBS (which he gets as a part of his job package), my OOP cost would have been more like $2500.00!! And that’s not even counting the $547 a month it would cost to pay the premiums. I give only $85 a month to CHM. So, I would highly recommend considering a health cost sharing ministry to anyone who pays for their own insurance!

  8. Sara says

    It NEVER hurts to ask! My husband and I had a $1950 hospital bill (after insurance) from our son’s surgery. They set us up on a payment plan of $120 per month. However, when we had the cash (thank the Lord) to pay it off, I called I asked them if they would give me a discount if I could send them the money right away. She immediately got an approval to lower our bill to $1500! Bam! Saved $450 just by asking…and we are now $450 closer to filling our 6 month emergency fund!

  9. says

    I read a book by Dr. Jordan Rubin. He cured himself of ulcerative colitis. I can’t remember the name of the book, but I’m sure you could Google him.

  10. says

    I have no health insurance and get terrified sometimes about a major catastrophe befalling us and large hospital bills, but since the cost of basic health insurance would cast way more than I can afford, even the Christian ones….I pray and ask God for His protection and trust that He can care for me and that if that happens, He will either help me find health insurance I can afford or help me pay for it. I grew up among people who were Amish or raised Amish and did not have health insurance and large medical bills were paid by the church people from all over the USA helping raise money for the bills and paying them off. I think that is more the right way to go about it. My husband has a condition where he is not insurable as well, but does have coverage that covers medication, just no medical bills.
    I think about 50% of our state is uninsured though because of low wages, but we also have great community health care clinics and dentists as well as hospitals that charge less.
    It is not just major medical things, I know a family who is still paying for their 8th child’s birth. Paying off 10k when they have a child every year is a feat and when you know they do not believe in BC, you know they really don’t…..

  11. shelly says

    In our family we consider medical insurance to be one of our number one necessities. Even when my husband and I first got married, were completely broke and only making approx. $1,200 a month-we used a chunk of that to pay for medical coverage for ourselves. You just never know….

  12. says

    Our family does not have health insurance. We’ve been married for 30 years. My husband is self employed and a business owner working straight commission as a Real Estate Broker. We have found that most doctors will work with you if you will get in touch with them. Also, it has opened up an entire new world of natural home remedies and preventative medicine and nutrition education. My dd2 (now 25) and myself have our Level I Herbology certificate from Dr. Christopher’s School of Natural Healing. God will make a way, be encouraged, and don’t forget to pray! He is the ultimate Great Physician. Blessings!

    P.S. I have also heard very good things about the Christian groups such as Good Samaritan etc.

  13. Shannon says

    I have always placed a high priority on health care. When I left an abusive marriage with my daughter four years ago, I purchased individual health care for us even though it takes up more than 1/3 of the income I received from two jobs I do from home. But I was just laid off from one of the jobs and am no longer able to afford my insurance (I signed my daughter up for an Oregon Healthy Kids plan). It is a naked feeling and I don’t like being without health care, but it is not an option any longer. I could try to get a full time job that provides insurance, but it is not only unlikely in this job market but would sacrifice being home with my daughter, which is more important to me. By the way… in the last four years I paid nearly $18,000 in premiums for my own insurance and never used it once. Who gets that money?? Not doctors! I also do not have cable, live on next to nothing, and am NOT in debt.

    • says

      @Shannon, $18,000!?!?!?!?! Wow. That is incredible and so sad. I find health insurance very convenient for my fa mily but of course it is very expensive. There is a Christian group out there (and I can’t remember the name) that is set up for catastrophic or major health events that helps families. And there is also supplemental insurance like Aflac, which will pay you cash if something catastrophic happens (like Cancer, Heart Attack/Stroke, or a major accident) that would not cost anywhere NEAR $18k in 4 years. Since it pays you cash you can negotiate cash prices with your doctors a little easier. (and yes, I am an Aflac agent, but I probably couldn’t enroll you) So there are options out there, as well as charitable organizations who can help as well.

      Better that you left an abusive marriage as well! That takes more strength than so many people realize.

  14. Tracey H. says

    Thanks Jody! You’ve inspired me to not give-up on getting medical care. My husband injured his foot months ago and we didn’t think we could afford the x-ray. I’m going to encourage him to call around and find a reasonable rate. I’m a SAHM and my dh has been unemployed for 1 1/2 years. His unemployment compensation has expired and we don’t even have state insurance. Thanks for the suggestions!

    • Jody says

      @Tracey H., You may want to read a book called “Fasting and Eating for Health” by Joel Furhman. He was an Olympian who had an injury that would not heal until he fasted. I don’t agree with everything he writes, but the book was helpful and much cheaper than surgery! :)

  15. Vanessa says

    That is amazing that you were able to negotiate and pay completely with cash. Sadly, that isn’t an option for our family.

    When my husband and I married, he was military so we had excellent health insurance. And it was too simple. Sign the dotted line, here’s your military wife (dependent) ID card, and viola, covered. I never paid a single dime out of pocket unless I decided to use a pharmacy outside of the one the military provided at the hospital.

    However, we haven’t been in the military for two years now. And I found health insurance to be extremely daunting and one of my top priorities. If it was just my husband and I, it likely would not have been on my top 3 of things to take care of now that we are ‘civilians’. But given that we had two children when we left the military, it was extremely important to find health coverage and we had 90 days to do so after being medically discharged.

    We went from paying for health coverage for just our two children, to state covered insurance when we found out that we qualified. Paying for insurance just for our children was costing a pretty penny and putting anything toward saving or debt pretty much went out the window for awhile there. Now he has a fantastic job through Social Security. We do pay $180 a month for our health coverage but the fact that my children are 100% covered through this program plus my maternity is 100% covered is a huge blessing. $180 may not seem like a lot but my husband’s paycheck isn’t ‘a lot’ either.

    Right now we don’t have dental insurance, which seems to be our biggest battle. We plan on adding that coverage in August, costing us an additional $160.00 a month, as my teeth have suffered poorly for not having it and not seeing a dentist regularly. The dental coverage we chose is the best plan SSA offers right now and we still will have quite hefty out of pocket expenses considering the condition for my teeth.

  16. jan says

    I wish we could buy health insurance. My husband is only able to get a plan that pays $600 a year of coverage- do you know how fast you go through $600 a year? He has type 1 diabetes and his meds are $400 a month. He gets very discouraged that people assume his diabetes is diet related but he has the kind you get as a child- it is an auto-immune disease. My daughter has Cerebral Palsy. We cannot get life insurance or regular health insurance. Fortunately we get some state funded assistance for our daughter- not sChip but similiar.

  17. Jennifer says

    Even when you do have health insurance, it never hurts to go through your bills and check what you have been charged for. We have to pay a percent of every charge, and that can add up after a while. If you do not understand a charge, be sure to ask what it was for. During my first pregnancy, I had to have weekly tests at the hospital. They would charge me different rates sometimes for no reason–charging me for a room when I spent half an hour in a triage bed! My husband sat down with someone to pay our bill after my son was born, and he got them to take off plenty of charges–like charging for a hospital room twice (once for me, once for my son–even though we were in the same room). So that is another way to reduce costs, to be sure you know what you are paying for at all times.

  18. Nancy says

    I am very grateful for health insurance. After completing 6 months of normal pregnancy, the doctors had to perform an emergency c-section because of my preeclampsia. She was 13 1/2 weeks early and was in the NICU for 122 days. Her hospital bill alone was 1.3 million. The insurance I had, through my employer, covered all of the costs outside of the $1000 deductible and increased the lifetime max so we would not have any problems. We did not have any knowledge that this “normal” pregnancy would end in complications for the baby and I. We are grateful for the hospital and the insurance that paid the bills of the many specialists. We are both doing ok now but one never knows when the years of paying insurance premiums pay off.

  19. Kathryn says

    We have conventional health insurance through DH’s job (I’m a SAHM), but it’s maddeningly expensive. We shop around for better options on a regular basis but have had no success thus far. Meanwhile, we’ve found a tool that helps somewhat with costs: DH’s employer-sponsored FSA (Flexible Spending Account). For those not familiar with these accounts, they allow the employee to set aside pre-tax dollars for medical expenses not covered by insurance. Some FSAs require you to pay your uncovered expenses yourself, then submit a request for reimbursement; others provide a debit card so you’re never out-of-pocket. Since FSA contributions reduce your taxable income, it’s like getting a tax deduction for your healthcare expenses. If you’re eligible for one but haven’t signed up, I highly recommend it. They are a “use it or lose it”-type account, so you might want to start small if you’ve never done it before. But, since they can be used to pay for things like eyeglasses or OTC meds or first-aid supplies as well as deductibles and copays, it’s pretty easy to find ways to spend the money.

  20. Lauren says

    I had a premature baby unexpectedly after months of complication free pregnancy (seriously, no warning. I went to bed one night proud of myself for being a healthy pregnant person, then I woke up at 5 am knowing something wasn’t right and at 11 am had an emergency c-section) and basically moved into the NICU for a couple of weeks. One day I was sitting there holding my 3 lb baby and worrying about 50 million things and it hit me that there was one thing I wasn’t worried about – money. Just for her to have a bed in the hospital was $1500/day plus care/tests/procedures etc. I shrugged and went back to snuggling my little bitty baby.

    No, that’s not exactly true. There was an Amish family with a baby there too and because I have to worry about SOMETHING at all times I began to wonder how they were affording it since they probably wouldn’t have the same cushy job provided health insurance I have. So I asked a nurse and she told me they have had several Amish families and that they have a coop through their church similar to what others are discussing. I felt relieved and went back to toe/finger counting and watching my little one’s heart monitor.

    I guess the point is to have a back up plan. If my husband & I had to pay for my daughter’s birth/care we would have lost everything we own and still been in debt. If the Amish families did not have each other they may have lost what they have.

    I understand what a previous commenter said about healthcare being a commodity, but I have to say that I don’t want to live in a country where babies die due to fixable things if it is in my power to chip in.

  21. Louise says

    Medical bills for an accident we were in – something we could have never planned for – topped $400,000. I am grateful everyday that we had insurance.

  22. Kim says

    Reading all of these stories has actually made me really glad to live in Massachusetts. We have a healthy children program for uninsured children, we have Mass Health ( I think the income limit for free care is $45,000), and we have State sponsored insurance you can buy into on a sliding scale above $45,000. Even making $120,000 a year you can purchase a reasonable plan. Health insurance is a requirement in MA and I think everyone should be entitled to health insurance. I may pay more in taxes to pay for this in taxes but it seems with it to me bacsuse I make really good money and I help others and if the time ever arises that I need help it feels good that it will be there for my family.

  23. says

    When my husband and I were dating we moved to Georgia (from Massachusetts) and I had no health insurance because I was no longer eligible to be on my parent’s insurance. I found a part time job in retail and worked my butt off to get promoted to full time so that I could have health insurance. Now we are married and have two children (so far!) and are on my husband’s employers’ insurance. Whenever he complains about what is taken out of his check each week I remind him that we are lucky to have it.
    I know that some people can’t afford insurance or don’t have access to jobs that offer it but I really do think that if you have the option to get it you should have it. I know that the people who visit this site are responsible and when they say they don’t have the money they really don’t have it. Us MSM readers are different thatn most people in the country (in a good way!) When people are commenting about their frustrations I think they are talking about those who are not financially responsible, those who don’t take responsibility for their actions and those who do not mind being under the burden of debt.
    I like helping those in need but those who do not want to help themselves really bother me when they expect a hand out. Those truely in need get “help” because they use it as a step to get back on their feet, those who do not want to help themselves get “hand outs” because they are fine with where they are.

  24. Mey says

    Jody,
    Thank you for making your purpose clear. I admire your willingness to be obedient and trust God.

  25. says

    Before making the big leap to no insurance, please be sure that it is legal in your state to reduce bills for cash paying customers! I know for a fact that in the state of WI it is against the law for a doctor to have one price for cash customers and another for insurance. There was a big crack-down here a few years ago on all the chiropractors, and many got fined for this practice (although, basically insurance companies and medicare are allowed this practice by stating what they will pay for each service and the hospitals have to accomomdate.) You would not want to be stuck in the middle of this battle as an individual.

    Also, we have a Health Savings Plan, in which we are allowed to “shop” around so to speak, but getting prices out of the two major hospitals in the area has been an mountain of a problem. It took both facilities in our area over 5 days (one took 2 weeks) to give me the price of an ultrasound. This would not be something that I would want to be doing even in a non-emergancy situation, if I wanted to know what the next step would be. Even in the clinic, they won’t disclose the cost of anything before we get treatment or are seen. I tried to pay for my costs one day at the clinic, and found that they would accept my check until it went through the billing in the mail!

    There are many loopholes to consider, before going without insurance. I do think it is commendable of the author to pay for these things up front and would love to be in a situation to be able to pay for all of our medical expenses each year under our $6000 deductable, but we can’t save that much on one income, try as we might. (and other than our mortgage and medical bills, we are debt-free.) This is one area, I give up on, although I do check to see if things are necessary and if I am getting charged extra for things, if they will tell me.

  26. says

    While I completely respect Jodie’s decision, I will agree that health insurance is very important.
    My husband and I had a six month transition period between undergrad and graduate school. We decided to move-in with my parents and save for our graduate school expenses. At that time we had achieved our goal of no debt for undergrad and wanted to continue working toward our no debt graduate school goal. My dad, a very wise money steward, only placed one condition on our arrangement. We must have health insurance.
    Two months into our arrangement, I was diagnosed with an ovarian cyst. The cyst, the size of a football, would have to be removed ASAP. While we chose to have a moderately high deductible, the $750 we paid out-of-pocket was small in comparison to the $12,673 the surgery would have cost without health insurance. That decision alone allowed us to stay out of date during graduate school. I am thankful for my dad and his wise counsel as well as the Lord’s encouraging guidance.

  27. says

    We too do not have health insurance. I have been out of work for over 2 years. My husband has been laid off twice. We have three children and we thought me needed health insurance and for a while we panicked about not having it. God has taken taken care of us these past two years. We do not have any health problems and we remain healthy, Praise God. God will supply all of His peoples needs if we trust Him and obey Him.

  28. Michelle says

    I think it’s true across the board that hospitals will allow you to set up a monthly interest-free payment plan on outstanding balances.

    Paying same day or before hand almost always gets you a discount. We pre-paid for our 3 deliveries with a local hospital and saved thousands. Shopping around for labwork also saved a bunch.

    We were frustrated by how many times we were told in the hospital that we could have our delivery paid for by public funds. Why should we expect our tax-paying neighbors, like those of you who read this post, to foot the bill for our decision to have children? Some people just don’t understand that ‘free’ healthcare isn’t free at all.

    • brookeb says

      @Michelle, Just know that all your neighbors don’t see it as a burden. Personally I think that’s part of what it means to be a society — to accept a share of costs for all those within the society, not just those who are similar to you or have the same beliefs.

  29. JRA in CO says

    Jody, I’m glad that the Lord has clearly lead you is this way and that He seems to be healing you. I personally HATE dealing with insurance companies – all the unknowns and unanswered questions — not to mention the premiums that seem really high each month.
    However, my experence happened 6 years ago this month. I was pregnant. My 3rd pregnancy in less than a year and a half. The first 2 pregnancies ended in miscarriage. I trusted the Lord completely with the outcome of this pregnancy too. Then tragedy hit! I had a very rare complication that nearly killed me, and landed me in ICU for several days! I had no strength to do anything BUT trust God! When I started recieving bills, the hospital bill alone was around $75,000! Add to that the ambulance bill, and bills to several different Dr’s. Without insurance, we would have been totally wiped out! With insurance we paid a couple thousand dollars and live life – glad to be alive, by the way! Yes, insurance can be a hastle, but I’m glad we have it.

  30. Nichole says

    I know I am late commenting on this but another way to get the dental cheap is though the group sites popping up. I have insurance but have been able to get GREAT cleaning, x-ray, and whitening deals for $49 once and $68 another time. I am signed up with groupon.com and seizethedeal.com and this is where I was able to purchase these great dental deals.

  31. Andrea says

    I think the health care share options – like Samaritan’s are the most Biblical way to go. We’re planning on switching over in the next couple months. Right now we use an HSA and, while I like it better than health insurance, it makes less sense to me than the health care share programs.

    • Rebecca says

      @Andrea,
      The HSA is probably a wiser financial choice than a share plan. I am very sensitive to the reasons people choose share plans. Share plans do market themselves as “Biblical” choices, but I encourage you to consider giving “with simplicity” (Romans 12:8) as a better alternative use for your money than giving to a share plan. Share plans which do not open themselves up to oversight conceal where all the money really goes. In the past certain share plans have failed due to mismanagement and greed at the top levels.

      • Andrea says

        @Rebecca, Actually, the share plan is a much wiser financial decision when it comes to looking at the numbers. We will end up paying less a month for our family than we would with an HSA and it would go to people who would use it directly toward their medical bills, or that is what I trust will happen for the people receiving it. If they are abusing it than they have a big God to answer to but the one we’re looking in to has come recommended by sources we trust. My husband and I have spent a lot of time researching this option and feel it makes the most sense. Right now we pay monthly toward the HSA organization as well as paying all our medical appointments and prescriptions out-of-pocket. We never reach the deductible because we’re healthy people and, when God worked outside the contraceptive method last year and surprised us with our son, the HSA covered none of it and we now have thousands of dollars in medical bills. Had we been in the health care share program already, it would have been covered.
        Also, and please don’t take this in a mean tone because I know how things can come across wrong in writing, but I have a different version of the Bible than what you use. I use the ESV and Romans 12:8 in mine says “the one who contributes, in generosity.”

        • Rebecca says

          @Andrea,
          I really like the ESV also, so no I don’t take that as a mean tone. =) I also don’t want to imply that there is anything necessarily un-biblical about joining a share plan. My comments are born out of my negative experience with a share plan my in-laws were part of when my MIL was diagnosed with a catastrophic illness. Their share plan came recommended by trusted Christian friends, also. It was a blessing for my in-laws to receive the letters telling them of others who were helped by their “shares.” However, today I have an increased skepticism over how these plans operate and are marketed. For a healthy family they might be a good option, but for a catastrophic illness it might be better to have a separate catastrophic plan or cancer insurance. It is certainly possible to give to share plans “in generosity” and I don’t want to diminish the blessing received by those who do. However, if someone is giving to a share plan with an expectation of receiving something in return in the event of a catastrophic illness, there is perhaps cause for further investigation.

  32. Jenny says

    I know Samaritan’s health share plan has been mentioned several times in the course of this discussion and I understand why people like it.
    I feel compelled to make some observations about it, for people who might be thinking about signing up for it. Just keep these things in mind as you make your decision. It is not insurance. It is under absolutely no regulation or oversight whatsoever, although I suppose the personnel would be subject to state and federal laws regarding fraud after the fact. Regular insurance companies have to comply with state and federal regulations which are designed to protect consumers. Further, it seems to me that for catastropic illnesses, it could not began to cover the expenses associated with such an event.

    • Rebecca says

      @Jenny,
      I agree with Jenny’s observations regarding share plans. It is worth considering why these plans are not permitted in some states, keeping in mind that those states have good reasons for protecting consumers. It is also worth considering the reasons behind why certain share plans have gone under in the past. In the end, if you have a catastrophic illness you may be no better off than if you had no insurance. The emotional pain at such a point in your life (learning you have no insurance to protect your family members when you are near the point of death) may not be worth the benefit of slightly lower premiums. A catastrophic insurance plan might be a better option. I, too, understand why people like these plans and are well-meaning when they recommend share plans to others. However, I have had a very difficult experience when one of my family members had a catastrophic illness and was part of a share plan. For this reason I would encourage others to take a closer, harder look at share plans in general before signing up for one.

    • Rebecca says

      @Jenny,
      One more comment. Jenny is right to suspect that personnel from share plans would be subject to state and federal laws concerning fraud. Although share plans tell their members the plan is not “insurance,” they DO operate as insurance–you give them money with an expectation of something in return. [BTW if you want to share with others, the best way might be to do so with simplicity–giving to those around and those you know who have a need.]

      When my MIL had a catastrophic illness her claim was grossly mishandled for months by the share plan she was part of. I got the impression the plan administrators wanted us to give up and go away. I wish to encourage anyone in such a situation to not give up. Share plan administrators should recognize they have a obligation to pay or face legal repercussions. Perhaps a close friend or family member (one living outside your home–the grief inside your home might be too bewildering at this point) could be a persistent advocate for you. Don’t give up!

  33. Inkling says

    I am an American living in Canada. After a traumatic birth injury, three emergency surgeries, and almost 18 months of waiting later, I decided to go back to my hometown in St. Louis to see a colorectal surgeon to finally get the surgery I needed. Obviously, our Canadian government health insurance didn’t travel with us, and our travel insurance doesn’t cover things like this. So we knew we’d be paying cash.

    I too discovered that it is amazing what you can do when you just ask. My surgeon gave us a pitifully small bill, and though he never admitted it when I thanked him, I am certain he wrote off more than 90% of the bill. The anesthesiologist bills separately, and I’m told many insurance companies don’t cover their bills entirely. Anyway, I asked if they gave discounts for paying cash, and they dropped the price by 50%, which I then paid over the phone with my visa checking card. With the hospital bill, we submitted tax forms, paycheck stubs, bank account statements, and a written form explaining why we were requesting financial aid. The hospital determined that our income level qualified for an 80% reduction in expenses, and then they further blessed us by capping the amount we could pay at an amount that was less than the 20%. Originally, we were afraid coming to the States would ruin us financially. But now, we know that all you have to do is ask.

    And now, I’m just trying to figure out a way to obtain a medical insurance policy for the State nearest me so that I can cross the border when it’s necessary. We’ve just been told we have a two month wait for a pediatrician for our son, and the issue he is facing will most likely end up with us just going to the Emergency Room when it’s severe enough while we wait. While I’m grateful for Canada’s policy that everyone can access medical care, I am most decidedly grateful that health care in the States is actually accessible when it’s needed. Canada just doesn’t have the money to support the number of specialists needed, and I find that it functions like the absolute worse of HMO’s. Americans living in the States really are blessed. All one has to do is ask. (However, I do know that hospitals aren’t always as good about reducing the bill if one does have insurance. So I know that my situation is unique.)

  34. Marion says

    WOW Crystal you opened a very controversial topic!! I loved reading all the comments!

    We own a small business with less than 15 employees. We pay for 100% of our employees insurance and a portion of their dependents as well. We see our employees as family and treat them how we would want to be treated. Our employees are very loyal and I believe work harder b/c they know we care.

    One thing I read on several peoples comments is they couldn’t get get insurance b/c they were self employed. Another option and how our company buys better insurance for a cheaper rate is a staffing company. We use Administaff but I know there are others good ones out there.