“It’s not technically insurance—even though it is. And I can’t speak for everyone, but from my experience, there are no downsides.”
That is the way Nat Comisar describes the HealthShare program he and his wife switched to after finding the traditional route—searching on the Healthcare Marketplace (Obamacare)—to be far too pricey.
Nat was no stranger to the world of insurance, either. In the past, he was the employer who provided healthcare to his employees. When he became self-employed, he figured he’d have no problem securing insurance. After all, he was a healthy 55-year old man with no preexisting conditions and on no medications.
To the best of his memory, the best deal he could find was going to cost him $680 a month with a $7200 deductible. Because he rarely had any reason to go to the doctor in the first place, that could have amounted to almost $16,000 annually for something he didn’t even use.
So, what was next for Nat? He made the same decision a lot of people in that situation do: he went without insurance for five years, finding it far cheaper to simply pay the fine when tax time came around.
When Nat’s wife went to search in the Healthcare Marketplace, her premium was more reasonable—at first. It started at around $270 per month. Then, it started steadily increasing, all for the exact same coverage. When it approached $500 per month, Nat’s wife made the same decision as her husband: she went without insurance for about a 18 months.
While out to lunch with a friend—a friend who had just happened to be writing a book at the time about how to take control of your healthcare and save money along the way—Nat learned of an option he had no idea was out there: HealthShare.
“The way I understand it, the HealthShare Market is the way insurance is supposed to be,” Nat says. “It’s a pool of individuals who are funding a contingency for one another for health concerns.”
HealthShare programs are religion-based. Many don’t require you to be a member of that particular religion, just that you are a person of faith. Remember—each program is different, so do your research wisely.
Nat did just that, focusing on three major HealthShare companies. He ultimately chose the one that seemed easiest to join and most organized—Solidarity HealthShare, a Catholic Organization.
Practically, Nat now pays $300 a month to cover both him and his wife. Collectively, they have a $1000 deductible.
“We still don’t use any of our insurance dollars,” Nat says. “In this last year that we’ve been a part of this, I bet we’ve only spent about $400 towards our deductible. Still, it’s so worth it. A plus is that with this company, if I do get to a place where I need assistance, I can see who it comes from. I can also see where my contribution is being sent and send a message to them, if I want.”
To be eligible for this program, Nat had to pledge a few things: that he was a nonsmoker, did not use illicit drugs, and was a moderate drinker, if he drank at all. If he had any preexisting conditions (he didn’t), he’d have to declare them up front—but that would not make him ineligible for coverage. Instead, it would mean he could not be reimbursed in the first year of being in the pool, and only up to $25,000 annually the second and third years. For everyone—preexisting condition or not—there is a $1 million lifetime cap.*
Nat’s plan sends him and his wife to annual checkups, both of which are covered. There is no pharmaceutical component to his plan, but that’s okay—there are discount cards to help with that.
Sometimes, when Nat does need to use his HealthShare—which, by the way, satisfies the legal requirement for having health coverage, saving him that annual tax penalty—receptionists give him a funny look. He says he’s used to explaining from there.
“I tell them, ‘It’s HealthShare, not insurance. You should be able to file it. If you can’t, just consider us a self-pay, and we’ll file it.’”
The Bigger Picture
Nat says in the beginning, he was curious about the extent of the religious component.
“In the end, I’ve found it to be a Christian organization that is a big group of people supporting one another,” he says. “There’s not a profit motive.”
In retrospect, Nat says he wishes he would have known about HealthShare sooner.
“Before, I had 350 employees in the restaurant business. Had something like this existed—or had I known it existed—I could’ve covered everyone at 100 percent, purchased supplemental insurance, and still not have to ask for their financial participation.”
If someone who was in the business of providing health insurance didn’t know about this option, odds are that this is your first time learning about HealthShare, too. We want to be clear: this option is not for everyone, but if it turns out to be for you, you could be on the receiving end of some big savings.
*Remember that not all HealthShare programs are the same. For more information the company Nat and his wife decided to use, visit Solidaryhealthshare.org. To find the right option for you, visit HealthSharingPlans.com.