Hi there! (update to this story towards bottom of the article)
Before I start I want to say this post is NOT about auto repair, thought I would give you guys a little “brake” from that today. What I want to share with you is something that you should consider if you are paying too much on your auto, home and health insurance …which I was. Take the time to read this.
Ok, if you are an average American I would assume you probably have some kind of health insurance coverage, either your employer pays it for you or a part of it or you pay for health insurance yourself which I do being self employed.
A little background on me. My family (wife and two small daughters) are very healthy people. We do not take any prescription medications, we eat very healthy and stay active and we stay out of the doctors office because of our healthy lifestyle. I have had health insurance with Aetna for about 10 years now, and have been paying $780 a month for a $10,000 deductible health insurance policy. Meaning, I would need to pay $10,000 before any insurance coverage would kick in.
Two months ago Aetna raised our premiums to $1081 a month for the same policy. Why on Earth did they need to do that to us I don’t know. What I do know is I am NOT going to pay that much for health insurance when we are a healthy family. So I set out to find an alternative option.
I called at least 5 other health insurance providers and got quotes from them. Each of their quotes were pretty similar, $800-$1000 a month give or take. I then started to talk to friends and family about other options that are available. No one knew of any other options except the big health insurance carriers you are probably familiar with.
Determined that there had to be more options available out there somewhere I spent a month online asking people in online forum boards. Well, that did the trick. I was introduced to a very unique health plan (it’s not “insurance” as you know it…it’s much better in my opinion).
We are a Christian family and try to live our lives accordingly. What I found out is there are health care plans that cater to Christian people and how it works is just what I was looking for. BTW I am not out to promote Christianity, and I respect your right to any viewpoint you or don’t have on religion….please don’t take it that way. I would assume other religions to have something similar to this?
I called and emailed the people at Christian Health Care Ministries, http://www.chministries.org and loved what I learned about them.
In a nutshell this is how their system works.
You pay a monthly fee for being a member in the network (about 20,000 members). They have 3 options to choose from, Gold, Silver and Bronze. We chose the Silver option. You buy a “unit” of coverage for each family member with a maximum of 3 units per family. So my family of 4 will only need to purchase 3 units of coverage.
With the Silver option we are covered for up to $125,000 per occurrence with a deductible of $1,000. Each unit of Silver level coverage costs $85 a month, times 3 units = $255 a month.
You can go see any doctor or hospital you wish, (there is no “in or out of network” nonsense). You get the care you need, then you submit your claim to CHM and they will work to reduce your invoice amount by getting the health care provider to apply the insurance rates they normally give to insurance companies. You then pay your deductible amount and CHM pays the balance.
What I REALLY like best about this approach is the money you send every month actually goes to pay medical claims that the membership has, not to shareholders in a corporation, not to million dollar CEO salaries, not to huge overhead costs etc. etc. but to medical claims that are legit and needed. Wow, what a concept.
Your coverage starts immediately and there are no tests or exams to go through. I was able to start coverage for my family with a 10 minute very friendly and polite phone call. Not only am I saving a ton of money AND getting a much lower deductible but I feel good about helping others with my monthly contribution.
They also have what they call Brothers Keeper, which for a measly $25 extra every 3 months per unit you can get an additional $125,000 in coverage. So your total coverage is $250,000.
Now you might be saying, even $250K is not enough coverage (I said that too and asked CHM about it as well) you have to take into account the insurance rate that is applied.
Example. I was deathly ill last month with a very serious infection in my right arm. I broke down and went into a local emergency room with a major hospital, although it was a strip center building not a large hospital. My 1 hour visit with 1 shot and 2 prescriptions (no exams, no blood work…nothing really) landed me a $1,900 bill in the mail a few days later from Memorial Hermann hospital system, and a few more days later a bill from the doctor for $752.00!
I was shocked, infuriated actually that they can bill that much money ($2,600) for basically a regular doctor visit. That is the real problem with our healthcare today!! I think that invoice is criminal.
I called CHM and they said that the hospital I went to offers a 61% discount to insurance companies and to call and ask for the discount to be applied to me. I am in the process of this right now, and will keep you posted if this actually does happen. But the point I want to make is, even if they charged $100K for a major operation they would discount (at this particular hospital) the bill 61% to an insurance company. So you can see how outrageously overpriced their initial invoices really are.
So, to rap up. If you are a Christian and would like to be a part of this network, I encourage you to look into it yourself and do your own due diligence before you switch. I have NO affiliation with them in anyway, I am just letting you know what I found and what I have personally done.
Total annual savings to my family for switching = $9,912
Now, on to auto and home insurance. I have been with Travelers insurance for more than 10 years and have never had a claim. I had my auto, home and personal liability insurance bundled with them. If you are one of my regular readers you know that I am a stickler for checking your insurance rates every 3 years. I do that as well, but this time around I was super shocked!
I called State Farm and Liberty Mutual Insurance companies and scheduled a visit in person with a local agent. I took copies of my current insurance declarations so we could compare apples to apples.
State Farm beat my current coverage by $600 and gave me better coverage and a lower deductible than what I was currently paying. Awesome savings for a 10 minute sit down meeting I think.
Liberty Mutual did even better. They reduced my current premiums by $800 a year and gave me more coverage and lower deductibles that what I am currently paying for.
If you watch any TV here in the states you are going to see at least 1 auto insurance commercial in a 20 minute time frame. These companies are trying to steal market share from each other and drastically reducing prices and offering more incentives to get your business than ever before.
So total annual savings to my family for switching all insurance plans $10,712
After contacting Hermann Memorial Hospital system 4 separate times with NO response from them, I submitted a complaint to the BBB which got a response within 48 hours. I then followed up with a phone call to the head of the billing department and pleaded my case….severe overcharging without my consent and basically no real “emergency services” provided to warrant the charges.
He stood his ground and said “I stand by the doctor’s billing” but I stood my ground and remained calm but was very firm about my assumption this was fraudulent and not justified.
He told me the hospital is transparent and open about their charges, and I told him I was going to go to the hospital right then and there with my Iphone and take a video of the front desk and post that video on youtube…and call him a liar.
They DO NOT post any charges or even a reference to any charges that WILL occur once you walk in the exam room. I got him red handed.
I told him I would pay the pharmacy portion of the invoice ($245) and that was all, take it or leave it and I will post that video and name names!
He offered me 50% bill reduction, which I refused and told him he had 1 minute to accept my offer or I was hanging up. I told him I knew they offered 61% to insurance companies and his deal was no deal. He said “you are not an insurance company”. I stood firm on my offer….and he finally accepted. 🙂
I contacted the doctor directly and he applied the 61% discount to his $752 invoice without much argument.
So, I can only thank CHM for giving me the inside info about the insurance discount and the BBB for helping me get my point across. Stand your ground people against the doctors and healthcare companies and do not be intimated by their ruthless practices.
Original invoices amount $2600, settled amount $688
Disclaimer – I did my homework and my due diligence and did what I thought was right for my family. I encourage you to do the same. I am not an insurance agent, and not offering advice or professional help. I am merely showing you what I have done personally and the savings that have occurred.
I DO receive a small (very small) commission if you chose to get an insurance quote via the yellow banner with the lady at the start of this post. It helps keep my site free for you to use. The quotes are free and there are no obligations.
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Blessings to you