Health insurance can become unaffordable due to a variety of reasons. Rising premiums, high deductibles, and limited coverage are some of the main factors that make health insurance unaffordable for many individuals and families. Despite the American Rescue Plan that helps subsidize monthly premiums, many people who don’t qualify for these subsidies find these plans too expensive.
Exploring Alternative Options
When traditional health insurance plans become unaffordable, it’s essential to explore alternative options. Here are some alternatives that can provide affordable coverage without sacrificing quality care.
Healthcare Sharing Ministries
Healthcare sharing ministries (HCSMs) provide a faith-based approach to healthcare coverage. Members pay monthly fees instead of premiums, which go towards covering medical expenses for members who need assistance with their bills. Samaritan Ministries and Medi-share are two major HCSMs that have been providing affordable healthcare solutions for over 20 years.
Benefits of HCSMs:
- Affordable monthly payments compared to traditional health plan premiums
- No network restrictions, allowing you to choose any doctor or hospital nationwide
- A close-knit community focused on Christian values
Short-Term Medical Plans
Short-term medical plans provide temporary medical insurance for those between jobs or waiting for employer-sponsored benefits. These plans tend to have lower premium rates than comprehensive long-term policies but still provide coverage for unexpected illnesses or accidents.
Benefits of Short-Term Medical Plans:
- Lower monthly payments compared to traditional health insurance plans
- Flexibility in enrollment periods and plan duration
- Coverage for emergency medical care
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)
An HSA is a tax-free savings account intended to pay for out-of-pocket healthcare expenses. HSAs are available to individuals enrolled in high deductible health insurance plans, allowing them to contribute pre-tax income towards their medical expenses.
Benefits of HSAs:
- Tax-deductible contributions that can lower your taxable income
- Money rolls over from year-to-year, allowing for long-term savings
- Withdrawals are tax-free when used on qualified medical expenses
Direct Primary Care Plans
Direct primary care (DPC) plans provide an alternative payment model between patients and physicians. Patients pay a monthly membership fee directly to their primary care physician and receive unlimited access to basic preventive services such as checkups, lab tests, x-rays without co-pays or deductibles.
Benefits of DPC Plans:
- Affordability: DCP members typically pay less than what they would through traditional health insurance premiums.
- Convenience: 24/7 access to your doctor via phone or email
- Personalized service: Longer appointments allow physicians the time needed diagnose conditions and develop tailored treatment options
Private Health Insurance
If you don’t qualify for a subsidy but want ACA-compliant coverage, then a private health insurance plan could be the right alternative for you. Private plans are available directly from a carrier that sells major medical insurance or a web entity such as Healthcare.com.
Benefits of Private Health Insurance:
- Guaranteed to receive coverage.
- Includes all of the ACA’s essential health benefits and preventive services.
- Available in every state.
Fixed Benefit Medical / Indemnity Plans
Indemnity plans, also known as fixed benefit medical plans or ‘no deductible’ plans, provide set benefit amounts for covered medical services at specific durations. The benefit is typically paid directly to you after you receive covered care, and you can use it to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses.
Benefits of Indemnity Plans:
- Available year-round.
- Can be paired with any other health insurance for added protection.
- You can use benefits paid to you to pay your major medical deductible (if applicable) and other out-of-pocket costs.
Membership in a healthcare sharing ministry, also known as a health cost sharing ministry or faith-based healthcare organization, is another coverage option if you don’t qualify for ACA subsidies and are considering alternatives.
Benefits of Faith-Based Plans:
- Can be an economical option for individuals or families who think they can’t afford health insurance with premiums that cost less than traditional plans.
- Supporting and receiving support from others who share your values.
- Available year-round.
Healthcare costs continue rising every year, making it increasingly difficult for many people to afford quality healthcare coverage. Fortunately, there are alternatives like Healthcare Sharing Ministries, Short-Term Medical Plans, Health Savings Accounts (HSA), Direct Primary Care Plans, Private Health Insurance, Fixed Benefit Medical / Indemnity Plans, and Faith-Based Plans that offer budget-friendly options without sacrificing quality of care. We hope that this article has provided you with some helpful guidance as you navigate the complex world of healthcare coverage alternatives.
What are some alternative options to traditional health insurance? Alternative options include short-term health insurance plans, healthcare sharing ministries, and association health plans. These can provide lower cost coverage compared to traditional health insurance but may also have more limited benefits or eligibility requirements.
How do short-term health insurance plans work? Short-term health insurance plans typically provide coverage for temporary gaps in healthcare coverage – such as between jobs or during a waiting period between enrollment periods for major medical coverage. These policies usually have lower premiums than traditional policies but may not cover pre-existing conditions or other essential benefits required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
Are healthcare sharing ministries a viable alternative to traditional health insurance? Healthcare sharing ministries involve individuals pooling together their resources to share medical expenses across the group without the need for a commercial insurer. While these programs can offer lower costs compared to commercial insurers, they often come with restrictions on certain types of care or treatments considered morally objectionable by members of the group and typically lack the protections offered under ACA-compliant plans. It is important to research each program carefully before joining one as well as understanding that it is not actual “insurance”.