Sunday, April 18, 2010

Uninsured and Proud of it!

With all of the hub-bub about our President's health care plan,
I have found it necessary to explain why we are uninsured to those who desire to start a conversation on the subject.
About four years ago we were faced with a decision. Our insurance company was upping our rates once again placing a $1,200 a month financial burden on our family. We had three choices:
  • Volunteer to pay the increased cost to an insurance company even though we rarely went to the doctor.
  • Go solo and have no substantial way of providing in the case of a major medical situation.
  • Join a health share program that would allow us to have some help in those major medical situations and help those who are truly in need.
We just could not afford the higher fees but there were other reasons why we thought it was a good idea to step away from health insurance industry.
For one, we never benefitted from all the money that we put into the system. I had already started to look into natural remedies for much of what ailed us. I was tired of going to the doctor just to go away with another dose of antibiotics and very few answers to my questions.
Also, we asked ourselves, if the money we were sending to the health insurance company was not benefitting us than who was it benefitting? It was helping the insurance company and those who have invested in said insurance companies. It also helped fund abortions and the antics of drug companies. We were helping fund an all inclusive industry. While our rates were going up so were the rates of medical procedures and doctor visits and drugs.

Going it alone didn't seem like a very wise option. You know, God does ask us to take care of what He has given us. And, while we were no longer wanting to hand over our money to large health corporations we were also not willing to lose everything in the possibility of a major medical crisis. So, the third option, although scary, seemed the most viable.

Share plans have been around for a very long time. The Amish use the same share one another's burdens. How does this differ from health insurance companies?
For one, the organization that we work through gets a one time annual fee which means that the monthly check that I write out is sent directly to a family in need. Very little overhead is needed to keep this organization running. It comes down to people helping people.
The families that we help monthly might come to our aid someday...maybe not. But, the fact that 100% of our money goes to the family in need is worth an awful lot to us.
You must be a Christian to be a part of this particular program and adhere to some rules which is a safeguard against those who might want to abuse a system such as this.

Now, I will tell you that when we started to walk away from the idea of health insurance I felt like we were cutting away the "safety net" from our family. But, after much prayer and discussion we felt like we needed to take the proverbial leap of faith. And, so we did.
We joined Samaritan Ministries share plan close to four years ago and have not had one single moment of regret.
I have not needed to use it once but have contributed monthly about one quarter of what we would have paid out for health insurance on a monthly basis.
When we pray for those that we are sending a check to we are always humbled by the fact that we have the opportunity to help in such a small way.
It has also helped us move more towards a more healthy, careful lifestyle. Since we know that we are the ones that have to pay for the doctor visit (the share programs are usually only for major medical problems) you tend to be more deliberate about your health decisions.
I don't just run to the doctor's office anymore. Instead, I read and learn how to better help our immune systems. I do this by using essential oils, homeopathy, and naturopathic remedies.
I assess particular situations by asking people that I trust who have more knowledge than me in this area.
I don't want to give the impression that we won't go to the doctor ever again. I actually believe that there is a definite place for medical attention but I am prayerful before taking any of us to see a doctor.
Here is an example:
While we were on our first trip across the United States we found ourselves in a precarious situation while in Kentucky. We had just left our friends home in Illinois that morning and had traveled all day long. We parked the trailer in a beautiful little campground and while unpacking noticed that Brown Sugar was having a hard time breathing. In fact, she had stopped breathing for a moment. I thought she might have swallowed something but couldn't imagine what that would be and after much pounding on the back we realized that it was an altogether different problem. I piled the kids into the van and off we went to find the nearest hospital. The whole time I am praying, asking the Lord to give me wisdom. I didn't want to sit in an ER room, pay $1000 plus dollars to find out that there was a simple explanation.
As we pulled up to the ER we sat there trying to decide what to do when my friend back in Illinois called and told me that her son had just had an episode of croup. I had not experienced croup before so I didn't know what it looked like. My friend gave me some helpful hints which led us to the local Walmart. We spent a couple of hours outside of Walmart making sure that the remedies were going to work before heading back to the campground (about 45minutes south.
Most people would just go straight to the hospital because their insurance would cover such things. Samaritans would have helped if I had gone to the hospital but I found a better solution...prayer and common sense. I like the fact that being uninsured helps me break out of that mold and think before acting.

Well, that is what we do for our family but I will fully admit that this might not be for all families. You see, I know two families in particular that would have a hard time making ends meet if they didn't have health insurance. They have children who are diabetic and the cost of medication and doctor visits is so high that it would break them without the help of insurance.
Our family was in a similar situation. If it had not been for the medical care that Eric received from the military we would be broke. His care costs for both times in the hospital was well over $100,000.
But, for the average healthy family this is a viable option and maybe even for those who are not altogether healthy (I just know that that would be a bigger leap of faith!).

So, when people start talking about ObamaCare I cringe. I shudder when the media starts throwing out statistics about "the uninsured" as if we had no other choices.
Socialized medicine will not change the problems in the health insurance debacle. Getting the government out of health care in the first place will be a start to a more "healthy" industry. Close down Medicare and Medicade.
Close down the FDA and allow a free market to dictate drug companies profits.
But, now I am probably showing too much of my political slip...

It is all about Semper Reformanda...always reforming.
For more information on Samritan Ministries please click here.
And, if you decide to join please mention Phil Olsson in the referral area.


Cinnamon said...

Hi Heather - I have read your blog for a few years now. I only de-lurk every so often :-) I have enjoyed reading about your family and your honesty is refreshing~

I agree with your post. We have learned to take care of ourselves because we think it's better to be able to than totally depend on a dr for something as common as an infection or even the croup. I also agree there is a time and a place for dr's. WE love them to fix broken bones and treat major problems. Pregnancy not being one of them :-) as we've enjoyed many home births~

Anyway, just wanted to say we agree!


not2brightGRAM said...

I recommended a Share Plan for my youngest daughter and her new husband. Glad to hear you have gone on board with that. Maybe she could call you if she has an interest.

Anonymous said...

This story was so informative and encouraging. Thank you for posting it.

Aaron and Amber said...

Thanks Heather! We too are uninsured and happy to stay that way. I always have been drawn to adoption, but one of the hold back was, I was sure that we would need to have healthy insurance. We are also looking into joining the Samaritan Ministries. Thanks for saying what you believe! :)

Sandy Kientzler said...

Thanks Heather! Mark & I have been trying to figure out what our next move is... Our medical through his employer is more than we can handle, but he and Ciera were rejected by Blue Cross... (Because of sleep apnea, anti-depressants and acid-reflux hospitalization for Ciera... :^/) I haven't had the mental energy to investigate anything further yet, but need to soon...
Thanks for your insight.

Jodi said...

Would you share your croup solution that worked for you? I have made many trips to the Dr. and ER as well because of this.

Thanks for your transparency in your blog. I started reading it right after Eric's death. Your openness keeps bringing me back. :)


moosetracks said...

Hi, I am Micah Repke from Samaritan Ministries. I also go to Providence Church which, like your church, is CPC. Will you be here in May for the wedding? If so, I can't wait to meet you and Phil.

Ok, I didn't mean this to be a personal letter to Heather... I wanted to explain some of the SMI guidelines on adoption! Adoption is really close to my heart as I have 4 adopted siblings and I volunteer for local pro-life organizations. I am very excited about the possibilities of the SMI guidelines in regards to adoption and it's potential impact on abortion.

SMI guidelines on adoption: It starts in section II.E. and states that "Adopted, unmarried children are considered members of the household the same as biological children... and goes on to exclude pre-existing conditions (I have to be honest here). Next is the exciting part, though! The SMI guidelines say "However, routine maternity needs may be published as provided in section IX.A.3, and needs related to genetic defects and hereditary diseases may be published as provided in Section VIII.A." Section IX.A.3 states that "Maternity medical expenses of the birth mother and an adopted child, for which the adopting parents are *legally* responsible, are publishable the same as other maternity needs, less any amount to which the member is entitled under the federal adoption income tax credit due solely to those medical expenses..."

So this gets me to wondering, if there is a way for adopting parents to be made legally responsible for the birthing expenses, and SMI would share the burden of that expense, could we find mothers who would agree to give up their child to adoption rather than abort their child? I think the possibilities are great! One interesting thing about being in the para-medical field is that we have a better perspective on and carry a greater voice in opposition to abortion. We should all take a hard, honest look at our healthcare choices and see if it supports abortion.

Lazy D Ranch said...

Thanks for visiting the blog and posting the info. That was interesting stuff and I am sure that it will help answer questions my readers might have.
One of the leading questions for those who want to adopt from overseas is that within the paperwork you have to submit proof of insurance for child in order to adopt. We have found no problems with using Samaritan's Share plan as a viable way of providing health care for the children. It was not rejected on our paperwork for Brown Sugar and Foley.
By the way, we will not be able to make it for the wedding. Very sad! We so wish we could be there not only because the McDonalds are good friends of ours but because the Hectors are as well.
I am sure that we will be out that way again in the next couple of years since our Presbytery meets out there every now and then.
Make sure you introduce yourself if you make it out here or if you know we are going to be out there.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Lazy D Ranch said...

Yes, seriously, the FDA is an unconstitutional institution along with the EPA, NEA, IRS and other government run organization/businesses.
At this point we do not have free enterprise when we are heavily restricted by the government.
You say that eliminating the FDA will lead to quacks out there marketing their so-called cure. Um, they are already out there promoting their so-called cures...some are on the black market and some buy off the FDA to get their so called product on the market.

In an economic free market you will see a company lose everything if the news media finds out that there was a death or serious illness caused by a certain drug. The population's opinion is what keeps that manufacture accountable...not some man sitting a desk in DC. Yes, people will have to learn how to use good judgment rather than have someone think for them but the benefits will be a healthier, cleaner drug and food market.
But, the greatest effect on the economy is the pricing. A free market will correct the overly high cost of medicine. A company makes money would have to price the product to what the public is willing to pay for it. And, a true supply and demand will take place.
I know that for many people this is thinking too much outside the box. But, one of our problems here in the US is that we are so willing to have someone else do the thinking for us and take care of all our problems. The problem is that the original intent of our government was not to take care of all our needs. Our constitution does not allow for such restrictions and regulations. We have grown accustomed to our elected officials coming up with bigger and better government interventions "for our good". Until we are willing to get out of the box and looked back at the system we have allowed to be created we will never see changes in this country.
An added note, life would be a bit harder I think if we went back to the government not doing so much governing but the rewards are much more freedom. I am sure that you have heard the saying that freedom is not free. Well, the price we must pay to enjoy freedom is something we all will bear if the we are only allowed to govern ourselves.

Genealogy Joanie said...

To "Anonymous" - First of all, I can certainly understand why you choose to remain anonymous. Although you may be trying to make a valid point, you lose credibility when you don't have the courage to identify yourself.
Secondly, the fact that your vocabulary is so limited that you find it necessary to use a vulgar term to describe someone you don't even know says a lot more about you than it does about Heather.
Third, why do you read and comment on a blog which you obviously have little or nothing in common with? What a waste of your time and ours. Get a life.

Lazy D Ranch said...

Oh wow! I missed that one....sorry everyone and thanks Mom for catching the signature on that anonymous comment.
For those of you who are really confused is the question that the commenter left without the vulgarness:
Really? You want the FDA to be eliminated? So any quack out there can market a so-called "cure" and instead poison the population?
Again, thanks to my Mother-in-law for catching this one. I was so wrapped up in the issue that I guess I didn't see the rest of the comment. Ugh!

Genealogy Joanie said...

I'm pretty illiterate when it comes to street language. I had to look it up because I didn't know whether it was a misspelling or a vulgar term. Guess we're never too old to learn - although I'm not sure I needed to know that one!

dkt said...

Free market? Preach it, sista!! :-)

We LOVE smi!! I too went thru all the 'fear' of leaving a saftey net, but have not regretted it one single time! My sister in law is also a part of smi and when she miscarried, she called to find out how much would be covered. The first thing the smi representative did was pray with her on the phone! How many insurance companies would do that?!? Then she found out her miscarriage would not be covered because they had just joined smi, but smi put her on their special needs list. She started recieving $10 and $15 checks from all over the country, along with cards and prayers and every.single.penny. of her medical bill was covered!!! God is so awesome!! And it is so great to be a part of this work!

Thanks for sharing!

Acappella Princess said...

I have been a long time reader, first time commenter. But I had to say something this time

I think your not-insured and proud of it post is hypocritical, self contradicting, and illogical.

First of all, because your husband had coverage from the military you weren't left broke. Isn't that, by it's very definition, government supplied health care? At the very least it's employer supplied health care. Why should it be mandatory for the military to do that, but not other employers? Did your husband pay health care premiums while he was in the military? No. The government, his employer, was mandated to provide that for their employees. Either way, it's government or employer funded.

And secondly, if everybody pays into the same system, then everybody's health care premiums go down, dramatically. Probably down to about what you're paying for your share program. Think about it, with 1000's of insurance companies, there are 1000's of redundancies in administrative processes. One insurer, one administration. And if one insurer is responsible for paying out when people are sick, you can bet darn sure they're going to be working harder at preventive medicine education. That's the way it is here in Alberta, they spent a lot of money, and effort, educating people about taking care of their diabetes, or high blood pressure. Because they know that educating people to look after themselves costs them less money, and makes people healthier. What private insurer in the US does that?

And numerous studies prove that people that have a family doctor that they work with and receive continuity of care, are healthier and live longer. Therefore, it is completely logical that if people a: can't afford to visit a doctor because b: their employer won't provide coverage and they can't afford the higher premiums in a multi-insurer system then c: they will be less healthy.

People criticize the Canadian system, but we're living longer, living healthier, and are spending far less individually than any american paying out of pocket for a private company insurer. And we never EVER have to stand outside a hospital, hesitating, wondering if we should take our child who can't breath properly into the emergency room. We just take them, and know our child and our finances, are safe.

Lazy D Ranch said...

Thank you for reading and keeping up with my blog. Such harsh criticism but understandable when I read that you are from Canada.

I have a fondness for our northern neighbor but when it comes to politics I have to loudly proclaim that it is a corrupt form of government that you all are under.
Socialism always sounds good but the price is high. Many of us are fighting to keep our Country from heading any further down that path. I don't believe that we are too far down the path to turn around and run as fast as we can. We have such great examples of how Socialism doesn't work...hopefully we will wake up soon!

The military are given certain benefits for serving their care is just one of them (another is life we think that all companies should provide this as well?). I have been a part of that system for many, many years and I will tell you that it is a fine example of what government run health care would be like in this country. It is failing in the same way as Medicare and Candadian health care. If you are going to get sick make sure it is a life threatening illness or it might take you six months to get an appt.
Yes, we benefitted from the program but that does not mean that it is above criticism...and it does not mean that it is the best way to provide health care.

The idea that everyone's health care premiums will go down if we all pay into the same system is absurd when talking about government run anything. The government also tried to convince us that everyone paying into a particular retirement fund would give everyone more for retirement. The government promised that they would take care of our money and the money that our employers put in every month. They would invest it and keep it safe. Whatever! We now have a social security program that is bankrupt! When government unrightfully puts their hands into the pockets of its citizens corruption quickly follows.
It is downright stealing for the government to ask us to pay for someone else's health care, or retirement, or art class, or schoolbooks, or....
Some of your arguments seem rather presumptuous. Did I ever state that we don't visit a doctor? We have a family doctor but we pay cash when visiting know, the old fashion way.
And, what information do you have that shows that you all live longer, healthier lives? And, what percentage of your income is taken out of your pocket before you even see it?
By the way, you misunderstood my example of Brown Sugar and the hospital. I would have gladly taken her in if I thought it was life threatening...but, living deliberately means praying and thinking rather than reacting to situations.

Sophie said...

While I am sure you will not watch it, Sicko even though it has some flaws on the over-emotional side, does have a lot of information in it. I really wish you'd watch it.

As for your daughter, I'd hoped you'd brought her to a doctor. She comes from another country where she's been exposed to multiple things that can be really harmful and have long term effects. Tropical conditions, with very low income countries create dangerous conditions. She needs to be followed closely by a doctor. I am not on the "go to the doctor all the time, nor am I for taking medications all the time, but sometimes it IS necessary (that's why they were "invented" in the first place). I do believe your daughter enters this category of "yes, maybe medicine is not always the solution but in this case it is".

Hope everything will be well.