Health insurance covers medical bills incurred by the insured. The coverage consists of surgery, dental, injuries, prescription drugs, and other medical expenses. The insurer can either pay for the expenses directly or reimburse the policyholder for any costs incurred.
While health insurance has always been the go-to for many people seeking to have their medical expenses covered, the rising cost of medical insurance has led to the rise of alternatives. These options allow people to get the same benefits of health insurance without paying much for them.
Alternatives to Health Insurance
Expensive health care plans could immensely dig into your financial accounts for you to afford good health care. However, it’s possible to get affordable covers that are pocket-friendly.
Here are some of the alternatives you may opt for to cover your medical expenses:
1. Health Share Programs
One of the best ways to get covered without a health insurance policy is to look into health share programs. Also known as a medical cost-sharing program, it helps utilize members’ funds to cover your medical expenses. Members usually pay monthly fees similar to but lower than insurance premiums. When one member has a medical need, the shared pool covers part of the expenses.
Some of the shared programs are usually faith-based and non-profit organizations that help reduce the cost of the premiums while still enjoying the benefits of medical insurance. However, the faith-based systems will require members to lead a healthy lifestyle and exclude cases such as drug and substance abuse.
2. Direct Care Plan
In a direct care plan, also known as primary care memberships, the medical practitioner acts as the insurance provider. A family or an individual pays a fixed monthly fee to their primary physician or medical facility. They are then entitled to regular visits and other primary covers without making any copayment.
This option is beneficial to both the physician and the patient. The physician doesn’t have to share the income with insurance providers as the payment is direct. The patient enjoys unlimited visits and care without the fear of increased charges and deductibles.
3. Health Saving Account
If you’re under a high deductible health plan, then getting a health saving account (HSA) will benefit you. This account serves as a personal savings account but only for medical expenses. You can pay medical expenses using a debit card linked to the health saving account or directly then get reimbursed from the saving account.
One advantage of this alternative is that it’s a rollover, and its benefits can be used in the future. Unlike primary care, this coverage applies to significant illnesses. Anyone is also allowed to contribute to your HSA account. However, the amount of contribution to these accounts is limited.
4. Heath Card Discounts
For people who pay their medical expenses using cash, health cards are an excellent way to get discounts on prescription drugs. You could either pay monthly or annual fees to get a discount when using them, while some cards don’t require any payments.
The cards, however, are only accepted by listed medical providers. It also doesn’t discount insurance plans but rather the expense incurred on the service provided. The card can also be used with high deductible plans to discount the costs of significant illnesses.
5. Short-Term Insurance
Short-term medical coverage usually works for between a month and a year. It usually has low deductibles and will help prevent the accumulation of high medical bills. This plan is usually good in covering unexpected illnesses and injuries. For people in between major medical insurance plans, a short-term plan will help cushion them in case of emergencies.
The limitation of a short-term cover is that providers will only accept healthy policyholders with no pre-existing conditions. It also rarely covers maternity and prescription drugs.
6. High Deductible Health Plan
A High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) pays a higher deductible amount than traditional health insurance. It, however, has low monthly premiums. This plan could be an advantage for young and healthy people as they have a low risk of falling ill. When working with an HDHP, it’s advisable to open a health savings account to take advantage of the pre-tax money set aside for medical expenses.
With HDHP, you’ll have to pay a high amount (your deductible) in case of a major illness before the insurer covers the rest of the bill. Even though the out-of-pocket amount is usually high, it’s often reimbursed from the health savings account.
Covering medical expenses could be expensive and hard to fit into your budget. While primary health insurance offers benefits and significant coverage, you should also shop around for alternatives. These options could be beneficial to anyone. However, there are limitations in each one of them, and you must read the policies well. You may also seek the advice of a financial expert to get the best coverage. Bottom line, there are health insurance alternatives that can work for you.