March notes from The Self Pay Patient

Once again I find myself with a stack of items that aren’t necessarily worth a full blog post on their own (or at least, I don’t have the time at the moment to give them the attention they deserve in a full blog post) but that I thought should be passed along. So here’s a few items that are currently cluttering my inbox/to-write-about list:

I’m ‘uninsured’ and quite happy about it

I’ve mentioned it a few places, in interviews or online, including The Self-Pay Patient Facebook page I think, but as of January 1 I have left bureaucratic medicine behind and joined a health care sharing ministry. I’d previously been on the high-deductible plan offered through my wife’s employer, but no more. I’ve generally elected not to share which ministry I’ve gone with because I don’t want anyone to think I favor one over the others – they’re all outstanding options in my opinion. I chose the one that I thought fit my own needs, budget, and preferences, as I encourage everyone to do. And that includes getting conventional or high-deductible insurance through your employer or an Obamacare exchange, if that’s what makes the most sense for you. 

I will tell you that my membership in the ministry costs about one-quarter of what I was previously paying on my wife’s plan, and the coverage is roughly comparable (although the differences between insurance and membership in a ministry make comparisons tricky).

Anyways, since I’ve been talking about and touting ministries (among other options) from the start of this blog, I thought it was worth sharing that it’s not just something I promote, it’s something I’m doing.

Federal government may take away indemnity insurance policy option

In an unfortunate turn of events, the Obama administration seems to be planning to eliminate stand-alone indemnity coverage, which I’ve advocated before as a possible substitute for conventional health insurance. Here’s an excerpt from a story in the online trade publication

HHS May Kill Stand-Alone Indemnity

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is trying to eliminate any possibility that consumers will use limited-benefit health insurance as a substitute for traditional coverage.

HHS wants carriers to sell individual limited-benefit health insurance products – “fixed indemnity insurance” – only to consumers who have “minimum essential coverage…”

HHS proposed the rule on page 44 of a draft regulation that could apply to individual hospital indemnity insurance, individual critical illness insurance and other individual supplemental health insurance products…

 State insurance regulators told HHS that they’ve been treating policies that pay per-service benefits as excepted benefits for years…

Needless to say, this would be a huge loss for self-pay patients, many of whom simply cannot afford the conventional health insurance policies that are on the market. The types of policies that would apparently be banned for sale to individuals without conventional health insurance appears to include critical illness and fixed-benefit policies. I’ll

I try to keep my politics and ideology off of this blog, but I’ll go so far as to say this appears to be a politically-driven decision by people who apparently believe Americans should get their health care paid for through their preferred mechanism (Obamacare and employer-provided insurance), face crushing debt, or not get treatment at all. I simply cannot fathom this mindset, but obviously it exists. Something I suppose I’ll bring up the next time someone suggests that I’m the one trying to deny people care by offering alternatives to bureaucratic medicine.

I’ll be looking more closely at what is happening here, and keep you updated.

DocDial is closed to new business

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail that said DocDial, the telemedicine service that I’ve mentioned in previous blog posts on the subject, was closed to new customers. Apparently the software that they had been using was, and I’m quoting from the e-mail, “not adequate to meet our high level standards for user experience, both for our Members and Producers. The software provider attempted to meet our needs, but we have continued to experience technical issues.”

The e-mail went on to note that people who had previously signed up for DocDial would continue to receive their services through the AmeriDoc service that DocDial was built on (DocDial actually resold AmeriDoc services under a different brand after adding their own features). So there shouldn’t be any noticeable difference for current DocDial customers.

It’s always sad to see a provider of services to self-pay patients leave the market, but one of the advantages of being a self-pay patient is that providers must either offer a service that meets patients’ needs and gives good value for their money, or they go out of business. Apparently the technical issues for DocDial were simply too severe to allow them to offer what customers deserved, so they’ve left the market. The e-mail does mention that they are simply suspending new enrollments and may re-open at a later date if and when they get their issues resolved, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens.

Price reduced on The Self-Pay Patient book!

Finally, one note on The Self-Pay Patient book – the price for the paperback has been reduced, from $9.95 to $8.95. I won’t go into the details of why the price has been lowered, let’s just say that I’m learning a lot of new things about the world of online book sales and how competitive the ‘print-on-demand’ market is! As a result of the drop in price for the paperback, the e-book versions for Kindle, Nook, and iBooks has been lowered as well. So if you’ve been waiting for the price to come down a bit before buying the book, now’s your chance!

Business has me travelling a lot this week again, so I’m hoping to get at least one more blog post up this week, but no promises!

This entry was posted in Critical Illness, Accident, & Fixed Benefit Insurance, Health Sharing Ministries, Telemedicine and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to March notes from The Self Pay Patient

  1. Jerome Bigge says:

    “WebMD” is a good site to learn more about what various medications do. There are also “user reviews” that can be helpful, especially as some medications can have serious side effects that aren’t usually that well known. People should not rely upon their doctor knowing all these things because the number of medications and possible side effects and/or “conflicts” with other medications is so complex that we can’t expect a doctor to spend the time necessary to learn all this stuff and still be able to see a couple dozen patients every day. All of whom are likely to present different conditions needing treatment. Along with the fact that medications do not effect everyone the same.

  2. Doctorsh says:

    It’s tough not to be political when everything the present administration does in regards to health insurance IS political.

    Then again, if health insurance was cheap, you might not have a blog or a book ; )

  3. Frugal Nurse says:

    I really hope fixed-benefit policies aren’t eliminated. Until there is true health cost reform, health care and insurance will only get more expensive. We need more options to protect ourselves, not fewer!

    I wonder if health sharing ministries might be the next target of HHS. They have received so much more media attention this last year, and are an increasingly popular choice. Will their popularity undermine the health exchanges? Will the religious exemption be seen as a loophole and closed? Especially vulnerable might be the health sharing plans that are not based on religious affiliation and membership.

  4. Janet Wineglass says:

    I agree, be religious. Unfortunate for atheists, atheists. Religiious health sharing ministries religious beliefs would be more difficult to eliminate, although they do look for loopholes to allow discrimination (favoring waivers to Muslims), example: not exempting a christian ministry if Jews work there or vis versa (co-op medicine). But sure this isn’t a health related government effort, but a assault on freedom which also can kill you. For a while, making this work at all should keep them busy. At some point, assurances that it is working won’t be enough and independent studies will show that people stop paying when they realize they’ll never meet those high deductables or because they don’t like other features.
    There is always, of course, the possibility that with a republican congress and senate these attacks would either fade or lose their force.

  5. Bret M says:

    Hi, Sean,
    AMAZING site!

    Quick question for you. I’ve been doing weeks of research and am leaning heavily towards one of the Christian Health Sharing ministries (Liberty looked promising, but I’m intrigued by The Health Co-Op).

    Do you mind sharing which of the ministries you went with and why?
    I’ve been scouring the site for a few hours trying to see if you might have posted it in an article, but I can’t seem to find it.

    I’m up against a deadline in the next few days to get my wife signed up either through health sharing or with traditional insurance, so I hope to hear from you soon!

    This site is a real God-send! Thanks in advance for your help.

    • says:

      Sorry to be responding late, holidays and my normal inability to spend the sort of time on this site I need to…

      Anyways, I generally don’t divulge which ministry I joined, I don’t want to be seen favoring one over the other, and just because I selected one that’s right for me doesn’t mean it’s right for someone else. My advice is simply to do your research and figure out which one is best suited to your specific needs. BTW, The Health Co-Op isn’t actually a ministry, it’s more like a “gap policy” (not technically, but that’s the best I can come up with) that provides ancillary services that are hugely valuable to members of Samaritan Ministries.

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