A Simple Money Saving Tip On Health and Auto Insurance

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.

Health insurance

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

 

UPDATE 6-28-12

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.

Please leave any helpful comments below. Please also share this info with your friends if you find it helpful.  Facebook likes and Google +1 appreciated and buttons located at the top of this post.

Blessings to you

Austin Davis

Posted in: Auto Insurance

14 Comments on "A Simple Money Saving Tip On Health and Auto Insurance"

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This post will help the internet people for creating new blog or
    even a blog from start to end.

  2. Darcie says:

    I posted this to my Facebook followers. Excellent research. Grateful that you are alive and healing in spite of our health care system. Much applause for Dr. Dibble in Magnolia TX for finally providing real genuine health care for you.

  3. Gloria says:

    Sorry, I forgot to mention this Naural Healing Paradigm is by Dr. Ken Sutter. So, when you’re googling it, make sure you pick the right website.

  4. Gloria says:

    Hey, Austin, looks like you’ve done your homework–almost. better still on the health insurance just get catastrophic coverage. The Natural Healing Paradigm is helping people get rid of ALL diseases. Google it. I can vouch for it. Don’t become a helpless victim any time in your life. This stuff is legit and it’s what’s going to take the place of the medical paradigm. Don’t suffer with any disease, EVER. I know. Most people haven’t heard of it.

    • By Austin Davis says:

      Thank you for the information, will check into it. BTW my insurance coverage I mentioned with Aetna WAS basically a catastrophic policy with a $10,000 deductible….and they raised my premiums to $1000 a month.

  5. kay says:

    After review of the CHM insurance, I found that they list preexisting conditions as a stipulation. On the Gold Plan they will only pay up to 15,000.00 and then your medical bills would be assigned to a ministry prayer list. Good luck holding onto your house while the hospitals try to collect. CHM offers help to those who have incurred bills with preexisting conditions after joining. Does help sound vague to you? It is obvious that people with health care problems will spend more than 15,000.00 a year to address their medical problems. A diagnosis of cancer, organ failure, immunity and endocrine disorders etc., would still place individuals/families at a loss as those costs would exceed 15,000.00 dollars. It is disappointing to admit, but Obama care will offer people better coverage. Added to my concern, is that there is no guarantee that your medical bills will be reduced, there is only the offer that they will try to negotiate the prices. This is a good plan for the healthy and wealthy, not so much for the poor and lower middle class who could not afford these risks. Let’s see, I think Jesus had quite a passion for the poor and sick. I fail to see how CHM states that they are their brothers keepers as a large majority of the population have seen a doctor for a health condition, and are not rich enough to pay their bill at the time of service. One might fare better to get snake oil slapped on their forehead in hopes of being healed. This insurance is not for the intelligent thinker who does not gamble his health or his future on vague terms of a trumped up Christian Insurance Policy.

    • By Austin Davis says:

      You are correct, pre-existing conditions are not fully covered…or at all. I have also heard horror stories from traditional health insurance providers about pre-existing conditions not being covered as well. You are also correct in your statement that reducing the medical bill is not guaranteed, but from what I have read, and talked to CHM about on the phone many if not all bills do get reduced to a great degree.

      I received our monthly newsletter from CHM and in it there is a list of needs that are NOT met by the plan due to pre-existing condition restrictions. You are given a brief description of the medical issue, the persons name and their contact information and the reason for the non payment. There were $275K in medical bills last month that were due to pre-existing conditions and if everyone in the membership paid $13.89 extra all of those pre-existing non payments would be met. They pass on 100% of your additional payment to the individual in need, or so they claim.

      We gave the additional funds last month and when I get next months newsletter I will let you know how many others gave additionally as well and how many pre-existing needs were met. From what I have read, many people DO contribute the additional funds each month to help out those members with existing condition issues.

      This is not a plan for everyone, but fills in the gaps from traditional insurance plans and from what I can see works on a more personal basis.

      Even if I paid $200 a month more additionally to help others with pre-existing conditions I am still saving $600 a month from what I was currently paying with Aetna…supporting their share holders and CEO salary and advertising budgets.

      Thank you for your time and comment

  6. Chuck says:

    Austin,

    Great work on the comparison shopping!
    I am always up for saving money, and I would love to share how I have done it, but unfortunately, not everyone can do it.
    My health insurance is with Tricare because I am in the Military, so I highly recommend any military members who may not be on Tricare to join because I can cover my family of 7 for just $191 per month.
    Also, if anyone is a member, former member, or family of a member of the military, I also highly recommend USAA for your auto and home insurance.
    I just switched to them a couple of months ago and saved over $1300 per year for 3 cars! I now pay around $1200 per year for the 3 cars.
    Thank you again for this info, and I hope that many people will be able benefit from it.

  7. Keith says:

    Austin,

    Thanks for posting! I’m going to pass the info on to my son-in-law who just turned 26 and lost is health coverage on his parents’insurance.

    About seven years ago I was in great health, but had a deep vein thrombosis (mesenteric vein with ischemia in the small intestines) and had a hospital stay for almost a month. The tab was almost $600,000. I had pretty good coverage so I only had to make a $2,500 maximum out of pocket payment. It scares me to think of what would have happened if I hadn’t had good insurance…without a doubt I would have gone bankrupt.

    • By Austin Davis says:

      Keith, I am thankful that you are alive and well! I must say, either I am very naive or $600K sounds like a total outrage. It would take a group of 50 skilled craftsman with truck loads of materials and 6 months of work to build a $600K home. That home would last for years and would hopefully appreciate in value…and be very useful to the inhabitants during that time.

      I am not seeing how a hospital can charge that rate for doing a procedure that might have only taken a few hours then the rest of the time you were basically being monitored and cared for. Again, I am glad you are here today, but how can we as a society allow an industry to charge at will? Why is there no upfront transparent pricing in the hospital industry?

      Take an auto mechanic for instance. You bring your car to my shop because your check engine light is on. I tell you the diagnostic fee and run some tests to determine what is wrong. I then present you with an estimate as to what it will cost to repair the problem. Once the repairs are made I present you with a bill and you pay me before you get your car back. I post my hourly rate on a wall for everyone to see, and I use a standardized labor rate guide to determine how long a repair should take and what the charge to my customer should be. Being a free market you can call around to any repair shop and compare my prices.

      Why can’t a hospital be upfront and transparent about their fees as well? I can’t think of another industry that is so secretive/illusive about their fees than a hospital.

      My mechanics tell me all the time, “We are smarter than a doctor, because every year we have to go back to school and learn the latest repairs on every new make and model, the human body really does not change much” I think there is some truth to that.

      Thanks for your comment, it has opened my eyes a little wider.
      Austin

  8. Bill says:

    This is an excellent example of doing your homework and comparison-shopping for anything, not just cars. (Or mechanics…)

    My wife loves to work on our home and auto insurance every couple years. She is the frugal one. We did the same comparison on that coverage and reduced by a similar amount about two years ago. I suspect she may be getting the itch again.

    I have a couple thoughts on the healthcare side. I used to work in customer support for a major healthcare provider. A couple years ago they adjusted what they call the “uninsured discount,” and it comes close, but not quite to the percentage they offer the networked insurance companies.

    FYI, the networked insurance companies get those higher discounts because it is believed they provide “customer” volume. It’s sort of like a bulk rate discount. If an insurance company is not contracted with the provider, it won’t get the same discount. So Austin, the tricky part of your payor is where they claim they will “negotiate.” That can take time, and your account balance could be passed onto secondary and tertiary collections. Yes, even if it’s being “negotiated.” Most hospitals will not want to offer the same discount to non-contracted payors that they offer to their contracted ones… Why have the contract?

    Different hospitals and hospital chains have different processes, so I’ll hope for two things:
    1. You never need to use one.
    2. If you need to use one, you get one that will work with your payor.

    Thanks for the tips. We intend to review both.

  9. Rob says:

    Hey Austin,

    This was a great article. I have often wondered about how the Christian insurance networks compare to the big boys. I have the highest deductible plan offered at work ($13,000) and I wonder if it would makes since to supplement this emergency coverage with something like the bronze plan?

    I shop my car insurance every few years and haven’t found anyone that can beat 21st Century Insurance, we are paying $1200/year at the moment for two vehicles. You may try shopping them on your next round. Our insurance dropped almost $1000/year just by moving from Harris county

  10. Jon Sorenson says:

    Comparison shopped in January and saved almost $ 600.00 for year with a little better coverage. Should do every year

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