As the healthcare debate rages on, I’ve received some requests from readers for an update on what we decided to for our family in regard to our healthcare coverage. You may remember I wrote a column about this time last year about my family’s struggles.

I think what the political parties have done to healthcare in the U.S. is outrageous. This very personal conversation should be open and collaborative; instead for almost 10 years now Americans have been tormented with spin, dishonesty, and very little transparency from both parties. We all endure a lot of hardship generated by Washington, but when government shenanigans start impacting the potential physical well-being of my family it gets personal, and that’s exactly what’s happened.

To recap, one year after the ACA went into effect the health insurance plan my family had maintained for eight years informed us our coverage was being discontinued. The plan’s cost was reasonable and it had functioned well for the delivery of three of our kids. We were disappointed.

So we went to the ACA marketplace and selected a new “silver” plan. The monthly costs were $250 higher as were the annual deductible and co-pays, but we knew it was coming so we accepted our lot. After the first year the new plan raised our premium another $200 a month. After the second year we got another letter informing us the coverage was being discontinued.   We’d had enough.

We went back to the marketplace, but also began looking at Christian healthcare sharing plans, the most high profile of which is called Medi-Share.   The groups offering share plans make it clear these plans are not health insurance, but rather a pool of money members contribute to every month which is used to pay the medical expenses of other members. Despite the “not insurance” status, the handful of sharing plans we looked at could be used as substitute or exemption for ACA health insurance mandates to avoid a tax penalty.

I have to admit, I was seriously skeptical. My wife and I must have conducted two to three hours of phone calls with sharing plans, we talked to other people using the plans and we read everything we could find online. In all our research we couldn’t find any first hand negative information, so we got a quote for our family, it was over $900 a month less expensive than the remaining silver plan available in Northwest Indiana.  

Savings totaling $900 a month is the kind of money that changes a family’s overall budget. With this kind of savings, we had to give it a try and we did.

The startup process was a little strange.  We had to set up a new credit union account and give Medi-Share Power of Attorney to remove or add money to our account and we had to attest to living by Christian principles (no smoking, no excessive drinking, sex only within marriage).   

Once we navigated the sign-up process, however, the experience has been exceptional. My wife uses her Medi-share card at preferred providers, benefits seem to be paid efficiently and the customer service is absolutely wonderful.   My comfort level has increased considerably and I will continue to keep readers updated as we become more experienced with this plan.

Opinions are solely the writer's. Marc Ruiz is a wealth adviser with Oak Partners and a registered representative of Sll investments, member FINRA/SIPC. Oak Partners and Sll are separate companies. Contact Marc at marc.ruiz@oakpartners.com.

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