SCORE

By Brian Jones

With the cost of traditional health insurance plans keep rising rapidly out of the financial reach of many Americans, most people are diligently seeking alternatives that provide some sort of assistance with potential medical bills. While it may appear difficult to manage health care costs, there are indeed a number of viable alternatives to traditional health insurance. Each individual has to figure out the one that may be most well suited to his personal health care needs and budget. These are the alternative that can replace the traditional coverage:

1) Get a Primary Care "Membership" Like Concierge Medicine

One interesting alternative is medical practices or individual primary care physicians offering services based on a flat monthly fee, rather like a gym membership. For a monthly fee, individuals or families receive virtually unlimited routine medical care, including doctor visits, blood tests and pediatric care, essentially all the usual services provided by a primary care physician.

2) Join a Medical Cost-Sharing Program, Like Medi-share

Another increasingly popular option exists in the form of medical cost-sharing programs such as Medi-Share. Medical cost-sharing programs are set up so members, who pay monthly fees much like insurance premiums, pool their resources and share each others' medical costs as they arise.

3) Open a Health Savings Account

A health savings account (HSA) offers a tax-advantaged way of covering most ordinary medical expenses, such as doctor visits and medications, even including over-the-counter medications. Like the primary care monthly fee programs mentioned above, they are usually combined with high-deductible insurance coverage for catastrophic illness or injury. HSAs are available through many employers but may also be set up by individuals.

4) Get a Medical Services Discount Card

For those who prefer to operate on a "cash only" basis for medical costs and do not mind paying the tax penalty incurred under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) for not having insurance, there are a variety of medical discount cards available. Some discount cards can be used for physician or hospital services, others for prescriptions and some for both. Discounts offered with the use of the cards can be substantial, up to 80% or more.

5) Get a High-Deductible Policy

A good option for younger adults in generally good health, who do not expect to incur much in the way of medical costs during the year, is to simply obtain a low-premium, high-deductible policy that is only designed to provide coverage for unexpected, major injury or illness treatment. The catastrophic health insurance policy ensures coverage in the event of such unforeseen medical expenses, while keeping an individual's insurance costs to a minimum.

6) Get Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC)

A MEC is coverage that puts only those coverages mandated by the Healthcare Reform Act and strips away any other coverage. These plans will make you legal in the eyes of the law but cover very little when it is needed.

7) Build a Plan using the above Programs and a few others not mentioned.

None of these plans are perfect by themselves but by picking and choosing what you want and need for yourself, your family and your employees you can have a plan that is often better than a traditional health plan and often costs you and your business much less. Talk to a professional about what might make sense for you and your business.
 

Editor's Note: We'd like to welcome Brian Jones to the ranks of volunteer instructors at Greater Phoenix SCORE. Click here for the latest workshops. 

About the Author(s)

Brian H. Jones

Preparing for that next step in life isn't always easy. My combination of experience, professionalism and access to a wide variety of health insurance products, alternatives and services can help you meet your healthcare goals and medical and insurance needs.

Consultant, Black Mountain Business Consultants
What Employers Need to Know about Healthcare Coverage