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Can’t afford health insurance?

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I’m sure that we’ve all seen news reports of natural or manmade disasters in which people  have lost virtually everything they own, but who declare that the most important thing is that they still have their health.

Oh, really? If that were true, wouldn’t those same people take better care of their health and also be willing to give up some of life’s amenities in order to buy health insurance? America has how many self-induced epidemics? Obesity epidemic, opioid epidemic, alcohol, suicide, depression, loneliness, HIV, lung cancer.

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The administrator of a nursing home told me that half of the people in his facility were there because they smoked. Just weeks ago I saw a wheelchair bound man roll himself out of a local nursing home to a designated smoking area where a woman, apparently an employee there, stood taking her cigarette break as well.

And now we add to the list legalized cannibas. “In 2014, people who had diagnosable cannibas disorder, the medical term for marijuana abuse or addiction, made up  about 1.5 percent of Americans.  But they accounted for 11 percent of all psychosis cases in emergency rooms — 90,000 cases, 250 a day, triple the number in 2016. (Hillsdale College Newsletter Vol. 48 No. 1).”

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If you were a health insurance executive would you insure such an individual or insure him through his work?  Is it any wonder that medical treatment costs what it does?  On the other hand, people think that the medical field should be able to fix anything that assails them.  Obviously, doctors make mistakes — humans are prone to do that.  Result: some doctors pay as much as $300,000 per year  for malpractice insurance.

So, what can be done to alleviate the financial burden on those who do try to maintain good health but struggle to either afford insurance or pay out of pocket? My family thanks God that there is an answer. About 20 years ago we heard of Samaritan Ministries. Samaritan is a Christian organization that replaces “commercial” insurance with a cost sharing plan which eliminates that “middle man”, but is acceptable under Obamacare.

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Frighteningly, under the Green New Deal being put forth by potential presidential contenders, all private insurance would be eliminated and replaced by government administered plans.

Contrary to claims for this program, no administrative savings will materialize. Government bureaucrats don’t process claims any more efficiently than private sector workers. For example, Medicare spends more dollars per enrollee on administrative costs than private insurers. What if you or a loved one are waiting for a miracle drug to cure a terrible disease? Government price controls would ruin the incentive to develop such drugs. A University of Mass. study shows that is costs $2.9 billion to bring a new drug to market.  Pharmaceutical companies won’t put that kind of money into Research and Development if they can’t make a profit. Need surgery? In the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, one in seven surgeries is canceled right before it is scheduled to happen, often due to staffing or bed shortages (Samaritan Newsletter). 

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Having pointed this out, let me briefly describe Samaritan Ministries. It is a medical cost sharing organization (not “insurance”). in which at present time over 81,000 families are members and pledge to share assigned monthly amounts to others members who are experiencing medical needs.  When someone has expenses they simply compile the statements and send them to Samaritan headquarters which acts as a clearing house. 

If their bills range from $1,500 to $250,000, Samaritan will notify enough participating families to send their share directly to the family in need along with a note of support and prayer on their behalf.

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Monthly shares range from $100 for a single under 29 years to $400 per month for three or more persons with the oldest one being over 60. The receiving family can pay cash to the hospital and in so doing get quite a reduction in cost because the hospital doesn’t need to hassle with insurance companies and wait forever to get their money.  The cost is a fraction of insurance and Samaritan members have peace of mind knowing their dollars are not being used for procedures which they deem illicit.

To join Samaritan, you must pledge to abstain from all tobacco products, illegal drugs, use no or minimal amounts of alcohol and abstain from extra marital sex, etc. And guess what!  It works!

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In summary, why should those who try to live healthy lives subsidize those who wreck their health? The worst solution: Let big government do it all. A middling solution:  Buy insurance.

Best solution:  Create a like- minded committed group who look after each other — similar to Samaritan Ministries.    

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Paige Meredith alternates this monthly column with fellow conservative Stan Badgett.