Looking for Alternative Health Insurance? Here Are Some Alternative Health Plans to Consider:
While many Americans assume that health insurance is the only option for reliable coverage, there are many notable alternatives that can be more affordable and effective. Once you learn more about these alternatives, you might be tempted to leave the traditional insurance industry behind and use these new plans to boost your overall healthcare experience. But what are your options if you’re looking for alternatives to mainstream insurance plans? Why might you want to choose an alternative to insurance in the first place? And what exactly makes these insurance alternatives so popular for modern Americans?
What do typical health plans look like?
Before we get into insurance alternatives, you first need to understand how typical insurance plans work. This will help highlight the differences between alternative plans and the traditional insurance industry.
Typical health insurance plans in the United States are regulated by the Affordable Care Act, a set of laws that is also sometimes referred to as “Obamacare.” When you shop for normal health insurance plans, you typically do so on a federally regulated ACA insurance marketplace. Each state may handle its insurance marketplace slightly differently, but the same general rules apply. Insurance policies must follow a number of guidelines when creating and selling plans within this federal-regulated insurance marketplace, including:
- Coverage of the 10 essential benefits
- Employers must cover their workers
- Expanded Medicaid for low-income individuals
- Lifetime monetary caps on insurance coverage
- Annual caps are limited
- Premium increases must be reviewed by a state regulatory body
- Insurers cannot deny you coverage due to pre-existing conditions
- Insurers cannot charge you more due to pre-existing conditions
- Young adults can remain on their parents’ policies until the age of 26
- Insurance plans must include coverage for preventative care
Typical health insurance plans under the ACA involve many fees for policyholders. First of all, you must pay monthly fees to remain covered. These fees are known as “premiums,” and they can increase from one year to the next. In addition, policyholders must pay additional fees whenever they need medical treatment. These fees are known as “deductibles,” and their amounts can vary depending on what kinds of plans you choose and the cost of the specific service you’re receiving. Often, policyholders are asked to pay thousands of dollars per year in deductibles. Finally, patients with traditional health insurance plans must also hand over “copayments” every time they visit a doctor or receive medical services. These are essentially just additional deductibles that usually cost about $20 to $30 per visit. These fees can quickly add up, especially for low-income families.
Why might you want an alternative to health insurance?
Americans search for health insurance alternatives for a number of reasons. Many become dissatisfied with the lack of choice in the federally-regulated ACA insurance marketplace. In many states, there are only one or two viable plans available to choose from. Many employees don’t get to choose their plans, as their employers organize and choose group health plans on behalf of all their workers. The employer also doesn’t have a choice in the matter, as they are forced to cover their employees even if they are running a very small business.
This lack of insurance choice not only leads to dissatisfaction but also higher overall costs for policyholders. With less competition comes higher prices due to the age-old laws of supply and demand. Affordability is one of the main reasons policyholders search for alternatives to ACA plans. Almost every aspect of the healthcare system in the United States is getting more expensive. Inflation rates are causing the cost of medical labor, prescription pills, hospital equipment, and many other things to become much more expensive. These costs are obviously passed on to the average American patient. After all, the big pharmaceutical corporations and many other medical companies are reporting record profits during these difficult times.
Experts predict premiums to rise significantly from 2022 to 2023 to reflect the impact of inflation. The cost of living in the United States has already risen to the point where many families are being forced to choose between medical coverage and basic necessities like heating or groceries. Some of the hardest-hit families are those who earn just enough money to become ineligible for a government program like Medicaid – but not enough to pay for the ever-rising cost of health insurance.
Americans may also search for alternatives to mainstream health insurance to cover temporary gaps in their coverage. For example, someone might retire with just a few months or years to wait until they’re eligible for Medicare. In this situation, they might choose a short-term alternative to ACA plans to cover their bases while they wait. Others might need temporary coverage while they attend college after aging out of their parents’ plans. Still others may choose an alternative insurance solution while waiting for an open enrollment period.
What kind of benefits does traditional health insurance offer?
Despite the fact that there are notable issues with traditional health insurance, the ACA insurance marketplace does offer a number of important benefits for policyholders. The most obvious of these are the 10 essential benefits that all insurance plans must cover under the ACA. These include:
- Ambulatory patient services
- Emergency services
- Pregnancy, maternity, and newborn care
- Prescription drugs
- Mental health and substance abuse disorder treatment
- Rehabilitative/habilitative services
- Laboratory services
- Preventative care
- Pediatric services
On a more general note, it can be argued that ACA plans are beneficial because they are accessible to a wider range of people. Many policyholders also appreciate the fact that the insurance premiums on their plans cannot be increased to an unreasonable level under the ACA. Some might also argue that by making coverage for preventative care coverage mandatory for plans in the insurance marketplace, the ACA can reduce things like chronic disease – thereby making insurance cheaper for everyone.
What’s wrong with the ACA marketplace?
Despite its benefits, the ACA insurance marketplace and its plans have notable issues. Perhaps the most glaring problem is mandatory coverage for everyone with pre-existing conditions. Obviously, this law was put in place to make sure everyone gets medical coverage – and at face value, this is a noble and ethical goal. However, this law also degrades the efficacy of insurance by making healthy people pay higher premiums for those with serious, permanent medical issues. Under a normal, free-market medical insurance system, these people would be viewed as “uninsurable.” The risk of covering them would simply be too great, as there is no viable way to profit from offering them insurance.
Of course, the ACA doesn’t magically create money out of thin air in order to pay for guaranteed pre-existing condition coverage. The American government may have framed this as a major ethical victory – but they didn’t actually pay for it. Instead, this financial burden was shifted onto healthy individuals who already had relatively affordable health insurance. Premiums went up, and the entire medical insurance system in the United States became less affordable.
But even that wasn’t enough to pay for guaranteed pre-existing condition coverage insurance. In addition, the U.S. government had to raise taxes for everyone to pay for this ethical endeavor – leaving Americans with less money in their bank accounts at the end of each year. Additional taxes were levied on medical equipment and pharmaceuticals.
Combined with the rising cost of living and skyrocketing inflation, plans on the ACA marketplace are quickly proving to be completely unaffordable for many Americans – especially those who don’t enjoy coverage under their employers’ group health plans. Many of those who were previously covered through work lost their plans because their employers cut their hours. If employers cut hours to a certain extent, they no longer have to pay for employer health insurance. This means that the ACA insurance not only caused people to lose coverage but also caused them to lose income. These individuals were then tasked with finding their own insurance plans on the ACA marketplace on a much lower income.
Why the ACA isn't working
You should know that the people who designed the Affordable Care Act were wealthy politicians and medical professionals. Major medical corporations are well-known for donating to political campaigns with various lobbying groups. Initially, the ACA made it mandatory for U.S. citizens to get health insurance. This obviously represented a massive source of guaranteed profits for the same medical and insurance corporations that were donating money to the political campaigns of U.S. politicians. You can draw your own conclusions from these connections. In addition, these wealthy individuals did not have to worry about the affordability of health insurance or how the ACA might affect their ability to pay their bills.
It’s worth pointing out that the United States already adhered to a strict sense of medical ethics before the ACA was enacted. While it’s true that some expensive treatments were unaffordable for low-income individuals, no one was ever refused emergency treatment. In fact, doctors take oaths that prevent them from refusing treatment if that refusal will cause serious harm to the patient. Even without the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid have existed since 1965. These programs provide affordable coverage to low-income and elderly individuals, and they ensured that the most vulnerable Americans were getting the care they needed.
On a deeper level, the ACA feeds into the notion that cures are more profitable than preventable care. After all, exercise and healthy diets cost patients virtually nothing. But these preventative measures also mean that major medical corporations don’t make any money. It is more profitable to gear the medical industry towards expensive drugs and surgeries rather than dealing with issues early for a tiny fraction of the price.
The ACA incentivizes this approach because those with pre-existing conditions are not denied coverage. If they were denied coverage, Americans might feel encouraged to deal with issues like obesity, chronic disease, and unhealthy diets before they spiraled out of control. As it stands, there is no “reward” for pursuing a healthy lifestyle. In fact, you will be penalized with higher premiums and less affordable insurance in order to pay for those with unhealthy lifestyles.
While it’s true that the ACA covers preventative medicine, the statistics clearly show that Americans are becoming increasingly obese and laden with chronic diseases. If the ACA was intended to encourage preventative care, it has clearly failed to do so.
What are some alternatives to medical insurance?
There are a number of alternatives to traditional health insurance plans. Perhaps the most obvious route is to simply abandon health insurance plans altogether – and many Americans have already done this. According to the latest statistics, there were about 31 million uninsured Americans in 2020. This means that more citizens are abandoning their health plans than ever before, as that number was just 27.5 million in 2018. According to another estimate, 44 million adults do not have health insurance in the United States, while 38 million do not have adequate coverage. But going through life with absolutely no health insurance is obviously incredibly risky, as you will likely incur insane amounts of medical cost debt in the case of an emergency. For non-emergency situations, you may not have access to crucial treatments.
If you can’t afford traditional health insurance plans, you don’t need to simply abandon the entire concept of medical coverage. There may be other options that can help you pay your medical bills. It’s always a good idea to determine whether you are eligible for Medicare or Medicaid. If you’re struggling to make ends meet, you may qualify for Medicaid. If you’re approaching retirement, Medicare might provide you with more affordable coverage. If you’re still a few months or years away from Medicare, you can opt for short-term insurance plans that allow you to deal with gaps in your health coverage until you’re eligible.
Another option might be to browse private health insurance plans. While these plans are not regulated by the ACA, they may offer more affordable or effective health outcomes in some situations. One popular option is a limited indemnity plan. These plans involve extremely low premiums but low amounts of coverage. However, for low-income, healthy families, this can fit with budgets while providing almost complete coverage for visits to primary care providers.
How much is the monthly subscription cost for medical sharing plans?
One of the most popular alternatives to health insurance plans today is a health sharing plan. Health sharing plans are not the same as health insurance – and not just because they exist outside of the ACA marketplace. Sharing plans operate with a completely different system that involves members pooling their resources together and funding each other’s medical bills in times of need.
This health coverage system dates back to America’s early history with Christian health sharing ministries established by Mormons and Mennonites. Today, these health sharing plans have evolved to include those from any religious group or walk of life. In addition, new technology has made it even easier to facilitate cost sharing processes. For example, some of the newest health sharing plans use crowdfunding technology and mobile apps.
While health sharing plans do not have monthly premiums, there are monthly subscription fees to consider. These fees can vary based on a number of factors, but they are typically more affordable than your premiums on typical health insurance plans. For example, CrowdHealth offers monthly fees as low as $175 per month. This is a fraction of the average premium for someone with the same level of health.
There are no deductibles to speak of, but you may need to pay a certain amount of money before requesting that your medical bills be crowdfunded. For example, CrowdHealth plans require you to cover the first $500 of your health bill. There are also no copayments to worry about, and CrowdHealth will even negotiate with providers on your behalf to push your medical bills down even further.
Will I receive the same level of care with a health sharing plan?
Yes, you will receive the exact same quality of care whether you choose health sharing plans or ACA marketplace insurance plans. In fact, you will have a greater degree of freedom to choose providers that meet your unique needs and priorities if you choose health sharing plans. This is because many health sharing plans have no doctor networks. Under normal ACA health insurance plans, doctor networks often limit you to just a few options. If you venture outside of your insurer’s network, you will have to pay additional fees or lose coverage altogether. At the end of the day, health care providers don’t care how you’re paying your bills and will treat you exactly the same regardless of what kind of coverage you have.
Is a health sharing plan the same as insurance coverage?
It’s important to note that health sharing plans are not the same as health insurance plans. The major difference is that these plans are not regulated under the ACA or any other insurance regulatory body for that matter. That being said, many health sharing plans are offered by reputable companies with solid track records. While these two systems are different, health sharing plans offer many of the same general benefits as typical health insurance plans.
Can CrowdHealth help me pay my medical bills?
CrowdHealth can help you pay your medical bills if you’ve been searching for a reliable, affordable alternative to traditional health insurance plans. To learn more about CrowdHealth and its various benefits, reach out to one of our team members today. CrowdHealth offers unlimited talk therapy, unlimited virtual health, discounted prescriptions, personal care advocacy, and much more. We can explain more about the crowdfunding process and guide you toward a more affordable healthcare coverage solution. You might just find that joining CrowdHealth lifts a significant financial burden from your shoulders.
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