Our Year With No Health Insurance (+Hysterectomy!)

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Why on earth would a perfectly sane woman choose to cancel her insurance for herself and her children?

A couple of years ago, we were calculating that our insurance premiums through my husband’s work cost $18,000 a year. With that plan, we had a $10,000 deductible before they paid a dime. So, in order to ever benefit from our insurance,we had to pay $28,000 a year. Most years, we never hit the deductible, although we bumped up close to it several times!

Fear kept us in this system. The idea that one broken leg could cost us tens of thousands of dollars was not a foreign one to us. We had a daughter who had knee surgery years ago. The bills were astronomical, and those insurance benefits were very handy.

Then, while discussing this terrible expense with one friends, one said: I do not have health insurance.

Me: How can you take that risk???

Her: It’s cheaper.

Me: What if there is an emergency or something?

Then, she told me how it worked. She was part of a sharing group, Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM). Any medical incident over $500 was covered by her sharing group. Any incident below $500 she paid for. This was a total of $500 for the entire incident, so if there are x-rays, follow-ups, etc, it all adds up. In fact, she had just had major surgery on her foot/ankle and it was covered!  100%.

I was floored. But I was seriously ready for a change. So I did it. I told my husband to not sign the kids and me up for insurance through his work this year. (With much fear and trepidation). Two months later I went for my usual GYN appt and was diagnosed with a large tumor that required a total hysterectomy. I was reeling with the news, and then reeling with the horrible realization I had JUST cancelled our health insurance.

I had to go through with the surgery. By the time they got it out, my tumor had grown to the size of a football. And when I told the hospital I was a cash patient, they shockingly reduced my bill for the one day from $40,000 to $9,000!  (This was with no overnight stay!) Then, several other bills started rolling in. The anesthesiologist, the lab people, the doc, etc. The bills were piling up and over $14,000. I called every one and asked for a cash paying discount. They all took 50% or more off the bill!

Then, when all my bills arrived, I filled out the paperwork to send the CHM. And then, I waited. Several weeks later, I opened my mailbox and found a check made out to me for the TOTAL AMOUNT I OWED! I wept as I wrote the checks to all the care providers.  One bill came much later, and no discount had applied, and CHM contacted the provider on my behalf and they agreed to a lower bill, which CHM sent the money to me for immediately.

Our contributions to CHM are as thus: $300 a month for me, $300 a month for all my kids in total.

I can assure you, as long as CHM is around, I will not be going back to the previous system. For every bill I now call around and find better prices. I ask for a cash discount (which is nearly always given without any hesitation). I do distance appointments, and I use GoodRX (a free app) to find the cheapest possible price for any prescriptions.

I have also discovered that as soon as I tell a provider I do not have insurance, they look at the plan they have for me and look for ways to keep my costs down (for example, for annual blood pressure checks, I can come in for blood work and blood pressure and not have an appointment with the doc). They will email me the results instead of having me talk face to face with the doc. I save time and money this way!

If you have pre-existing conditions, I would talk to CHM to see if exclusions would apply and how it works. Prescriptions are not covered. Dental and Vision are not covered (so I kept those plans at my husband’s work). Regular health check-up are not covered. That is ok. The money I save from the insane premiums still covers those.

I did not make the decision lightly, but I am so, so glad I did. I am now on year 2 with no insurance. My son just went to the ER for stitches. I do not have the bill yet, but I am not even worried. I know it will be affordable, and if not, it will be shared with other CHM members.

If you want more info, feel free to check their website: Christian Healthcare Ministries.

If you are not Christian, or otherwise do not meet their criteria, I know there are other groups out there similar to this, so check around!

This is not a sponsored post. I am not and will not be paid for this post. However, if you choose to sign up with them, and let the know I referred you, I will receive a free month, so I would appreciate it.

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