Brooks Lockett sees CrowdHealth as a superior alternative to health insurance for freelancers & the independent workforce
“Never underestimate the power of online communities. And CrowdHealth has built this awesome solution that applies this power to a model of paying for healthcare. It’s actually brilliant.”
Brooks Lockett – a self-employed marketing consultant living in Charlotte, North Carolina – faced a common hurdle six years into running his business: the daunting mess of health insurance. This is a narrative shared by many freelancers and self-employed individuals.
Enter CrowdHealth, which emerged as a game-changer in Brooks' healthcare journey. Transitioning from exorbitant insurance costs to a community-driven, fair-market healthcare solution was a breath of fresh air for him.
The (Many) Challenges of Insurance for the Self-Employed:
“As a self-employed individual, the high premiums and inadequate coverage of traditional insurance felt like a burden. I was paying $450 a month to get questionable service and surprise bills in the mail. The system seemed tailored for large corporations with the capacity to negotiate better rates, leaving freelancers and self-employed people like me at a disadvantage.”
The ordeal of navigating through insurance paperwork seemed almost deliberate in its complexity. Brooks, busy running his business, had no time to deal with insurance companies for basic necessities like getting antibiotics on the rare occasions he fell ill.
“I was using UnitedHealthcare, and every time I’d need to call and ask for something, I’d be passed around to 10 different people who had no context for my call, sit on hold for half a day, and then eventually get no resolution. It’s laughable actually, how these companies blatantly sit back, enjoy their monopoly, and treat customers like that.”
Brooks first found CrowdHealth at a local Bitcoin conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. He saw a live presentation about CrowdHealth there. The CrowdHealth presentation really got him thinking. It was a new view on healthcare he hadn't thought of before. He knew he wasn't happy with his insurance, and the presentation showed him different solutions that might make healthcare easier.
He started following CrowdHealth on LinkedIn and found podcasts featuring Andy Schoonover, the CEO of CrowdHealth. Brooks recalls, “I listened to about five different podcast episodes. Andy was saying everything I felt for years but hadn't put into words. It was pretty eye-opening, actually.”
Signing up for CrowdHealth wasn't an instant choice. Brooks was hesitant to let go of his insurance completely. So, he decided to use them side by side. “I signed up for CrowdHealth while keeping my old insurance. I was paying for both, testing CrowdHealth out to see if it could work better.”
Putting CrowdHealth to the real-world test
The real test came when Brooks had to get a knee aspiration.
"The doctor examined me and said it was likely from overtraining and not enough rest, my knee was inflamed and filled with fluid."
He chose to use CrowdHealth for the whole process instead of going through insurance. "There was a bit of a learning curve, like uploading bills to the app, working with Jasmine (my care advocate) to find the right specialist and the ones who are cash pay friendly. But it’s honestly super easy once you get the hang of it."
Brooks saw that it's entirely possible to not rely on insurance and use CrowdHealth to navigate being a cash-pay patient.
"On my first visit to the doctor for a knee aspiration at Novant Health, I was worried about being treated differently as a self-pay patient. But when the first doctor couldn't provide the needed service due to lack of equipment, he waived the $457 fee for the visit, referred me to another specialist at OrthoCarolina, and made sure I got an early appointment.
Though initially quoted over $800, Brooks ended up paying just a bit over $300 out-of-pocket thanks to a self-pay discount. He got an appointment for the next day, was pre-quoted so he knew how much he was going to pay out of pocket for the appointment (which ended up getting significantly discounted), and he was able to get the knee aspiration done along with a cortisone shot, all without even touching insurance.
So when it was all said and done, for the entire thing, Brooks paid a little over $300 from start to finish for the minor procedure and it was a 2-day process with back-to-back visits. Who knows what that would've looked like had he gone through insurance.
He said, "Doctors gave me fair prices without the red tape. It was a pleasant surprise. Being cash-pay, doctors treated me differently in a good way. It felt like it brought back their humanity. They listened to me, they didn’t just stare at an iPad the whole time trying to rush me out.”
Like many CrowdHealth members, Brooks realized that the traditional insurance model also frustrates doctors who prefer avoiding the bureaucracy tied to insurance claims. With CrowdHealth, you unlock substantial discounts as many doctors prefer self-pay, a straightforward and efficient mode of transaction. "Like any other business, doctors don’t want the money they earned to be held hostage and bled dry by insurance companies who provide little to no value to the doctor-patient interaction."
"When it's all said and done, I pay $500 and the crowd covers the rest that’s already been negotiated down significantly by CrowdHealth’s team of specialists. That's pretty great. No surprise bills in the mail later on. It's like paying for anything else, you get the price, and you pay it."
A far better model of paying for healthcare
As Brooks kept digging deeper into how CrowdHealth operated, he realized the model was a modern take on ancient community practices. It brought back the essence of historical mutual aid, only now supercharged by the vast scale and connectivity the internet provides.
He explained, "And it's nothing like GoFundMe or Kickstarter where you're sort of casting a net out and hoping for the best. This is way more dependable and solidly community-driven."
Brooks appreciated the dependability that comes from a community of people who have already committed to chip in a certain amount every month. It wasn't about hoping for the best but about relying on a pre-agreed social contract.
Brooks continued, "You're not seen as a charity case, it's more like a social contract among a bunch of folks who've already committed to chip in a certain amount every month. It harnesses everything that's amazing about online communities and weaves it into this brilliant new model of paying for healthcare."
He mentioned how this model is like people saying 'count me in' to help cover healthcare costs each month, making it easy to count on this community. "It might take a minute to wrap your head around initially, but having been through the process, it's a breath of fresh air on how reliable and smooth it all runs."
Brooks is of the belief that peer-to-peer systems are what the world needs, especially healthcare which desperately needs solutions like CrowdHealth. It doesn't try to fix the system from within but offers an alternative people can willingly participate in. It's an approach that gets rid of bureaucratic middlemen and allows individuals to support each other directly.
Brooks finds it fascinating how the common belief is skewed towards thinking that only governments and corporations can handle healthcare financing. "In reality, for the majority of human history, it's been about communities rallying together to support those in need. Now, with the advent of incredible technology, we have the chance to take that communal essence and project it on a national scale with platforms like CrowdHealth."
He acknowledged there's a steep hill of education and unlearning ahead to fully grasp and trust this kind of model. "It's going to take a good amount of time and education to shift the mindset, but having taken that time to learn and understand it myself, I'm happy I did."
The sense of community and collective support that CrowdHealth fosters is something Brooks finds truly remarkable in today's day and age.
The transparency that CrowdHealth provides allowed Brooks to see the direct impact of his contributions, a feature conspicuously missing in traditional insurance setups.
“This is real. It’s real people, and you see the impact of the funds you’ve agreed to contribute. I love seeing where my money is going, how it’s helping people with pregnancies, injuries, and so much more. It’s humans helping humans, without corporations and governments muddying the waters,” he added.
The independent workforce needs solutions like CrowdHealth
Brooks emphasizes that while there's a learning curve with CrowdHealth, the effort is well worth it when the alternative is entrusting your healthcare to faceless corporations and government bureaucracies. He remarks, "It’s not the magic pill that’s going to fix everything with zero work on your part. But it’s a model that gives you fair prices for quality healthcare.”
He firmly believes that the burgeoning independent workforce desperately needs solutions like CrowdHealth. Unlike traditional insurance, CrowdHealth shows genuine care for its members. Having used it for over a year and covering major health events at a fraction of the cost, Brooks can personally attest to its superior experience and the support driven by a community:
“The Great Resignation has empowered many to venture into entrepreneurship, equipped with tools to build an online presence. Yet, when it comes to healthcare, the supportive tools lag behind."
Brooks sees CrowdHealth as a bridge over this gap, providing a consumer-driven, free-market approach to healthcare, especially tailored for self-starters.
Brooks shares, "Every entrepreneur should have an equal shot at accessing quality healthcare without burning a hole in their pocket. CrowdHealth is more than a service; it’s a movement towards reshaping healthcare to favor the individual, not the bureaucracy.”
He envisions a healthcare model that aligns with the spirit of entrepreneurship and individual empowerment, something he has found in CrowdHealth. Through his journey, Brooks has come to appreciate the community-driven approach of CrowdHealth, seeing it as a pioneering solution amidst a time of significant shift towards independent work and entrepreneurship.
Brooks' experience transcends just the financial aspect of healthcare. For him, it was about discovering a supportive community & a fresh avenue for self-employed people to navigate healthcare.
He encourages, “If you’re considering CrowdHealth, talk to some members. You can reach out to me. Members love discussing this because it matters. Dive into the quotes on the website. Watch the videos. Don’t just sit back and wait. Take action. I’m tired of hearing people complain yet do nothing to improve their situation. Don’t be that person. Be the action taker.”
He continues with a call for proactive measures, “Sure, we can all wait for more legislation, more programs, more top-down implementations, and we can sit around and complain about the system until we’re blue in the face, but is that really going to do anything beneficial? Until people take their health into their own hands, and form strong peer-to-peer communities like CrowdHealth, I don’t see the system improving really. I want to spend as little time in doctor’s offices as possible, and live my life. And if I get sick or injured, I want to pay a fair price and depend on the community. That’s exactly what CrowdHealth has been.”
He further elucidates, “There's no 'catch' to CrowdHealth because it's simply a tool and a community. It empowers you to be self-pay, providing the toolkit to secure fair prices and dependable care. That’s exactly how it should be. Sure, it entails a bit of work and learning, but isn’t that what we should be doing anyway? Taking our health into our own hands? As long as people hand over their health to corporations and the government, you're setting yourself up to be unhealthy and dependent. This is for individuals who crave independence."
Brooks sees entrepreneurs as an excellent fit for this model due to their inherent drive for independence and self-sufficiency. Through CrowdHealth, he found a blend of community support and individual empowerment that resonates with the ethos of entrepreneurship, marking a step towards reforming healthcare on a personal and community level.
CrowdHealth is more conducive to a healthy, independent lifestyle:
Brooks is an avid traveler and explorer of the outdoors. The hassles of visiting doctor’s offices or engaging with insurance companies not only dig into his finances but also his precious time. For Brooks, time is the most cherished currency. He sees CrowdHealth as a haven where a community consciously incentivizes a healthy, independent lifestyle, veering away from the cumbersome large systems that are a common source of complaints.
Brooks draws a personal comparison to elucidate his experience with CrowdHealth, “It reminds me a lot of the Bitcoin community, which is how I found out about CrowdHealth in the first place. It’s a growing community of people who are taking their lives into their own hands and moving away from large corporate and government systems that want to rule over more of our lives and take away the autonomy we have. That’s one of the main reasons I started my business, so things like Bitcoin and CrowdHealth kind of just seem like logical next steps.”
He continues, “It’s conducive to the type of lifestyle I live. Low-time preference all the way.”
This narrative not only reflects Brooks' journey but also sheds light on how CrowdHealth aligns with the values of individuals seeking to lead healthy, independent lives.