Self-Employment Series: Health Insurance
Health insurance is a sticking point for a lot of families. It can make us feel tethered to a job that we don't love. The fear of losing it can hold us back from new opportunities. In our family in particular, we felt like Matt needed to keep on keepin' on at his draining (no pun intended) plumbing job because we needed the health insurance provided by his employer.
After the Affordable Care Act came into play, our insurance coverage got worse and worse each year until finally Matt's employer announced that they would no longer be able to offer insurance to their employees. It was a scary blow to our family. We didn't know what to do. Insurance costs were astronomical, but we felt it would be irresponsible to go without insurance for ourselves and our four kids. One major health problem or accident could ruin us financially and we couldn't risk that.
I'd heard of healthcare co-ops in the past and we'd looked into them a bit, but hadn't found one that seemed like a good fit for us. There was just something about each of them that we weren't quite comfortable with. However, the idea stuck with me, and I just knew there had to be a better option. And then along came Christian Healthcare Ministries, which was the perfect answer for us.
The basic idea of healthcare co-ops is this: you pay out of pocket for your own minor medical bills (checkups, minor illnesses, etc.). You're considered a "cash customer" in the eyes of the provider, and you can qualify for cash discounts. For larger bills like accidents and major illnesses (think a broken arm or worse), the co-op reimburses you for those costs. It's based on the biblical principle that we should take care of ourselves and our families, but when a crisis occurs, our community is called to rally around and help us. So in this case, we take care of our own minor healthcare needs, but when a problem arises, the co-op covers it.
It's very affordable (a fraction of what we were paying for traditional insurance). It covers 100% of major problems. (I dealt with skin cancer surgery recently to the tune of $10,000+ and Christian Healthcare Ministries paid every last cent of it.) Yes, you pay out of pocket for checkups and minor bills, but the savings in deductibles and premiums is well worth it. Yes, you need to be a Christian (but I'd assume there are co-ops out there for other faiths as well.) No, you don't need to have your pastor sign off on your medical bills (some other co-ops require that). No, your pastor doesn't need to verify your church attendance (some others require that too).
We were so incredibly blessed to have discovered Christian Healthcare Ministries. It is what enabled us to find relief from the incredibly high costs of health insurance. It's what enabled Matt to leave the job that was burning him out. The cost savings and peace of mind have been huge benefits in this season of starting our new business and having a tight budget.
If you feel that there's room for improvement in your health insurance situation, I'd encourage you to check out chministries.org. I think you'll be as happy as we are!