Picture this: Two self-employed moms both have to take their children to urgent care.
Both have stuff to do, both are worried about their kid, and both are stressed — but only one mom is stressed about the money.
That’s because she and her family are one of more than two million people who belong to a healthshare.
What is a healthshare, you ask?
Healthshares are an affordable way for families to manage their medical expenses. You become a member of the “community” that shares the cost of a medical need.
Healthshares also offer a lot of options including allowing members to set their responsibility amount which is the predetermined amount due when a medical need arises.
In many cases, traditional “copays” are included in the plan.
Sounds a lot like insurance, right?
Health insurance and healthshares share the same basic principle: To make the cost of healthcare predictable — mainly when unexpected problems arise.
But, there are two important differences between health insurance and healthshares.
1. Healthshares are smaller organizations that tailor their services to the needs of their members.
It’s a community or communal approach. In a healthshare, members support each other.
That means members are transparent about their health care needs so they can make smart use of their “out-of-pocket” expenses.
Instead of paying a premium and deductible with additional out-of-pocket costs throughout the year, a healthshare is made up of members who pay a monthly contribution to the community.
The community shares the costs of a medical need after the member pays their “responsibility” or set amount.
2. Healthshares offer concierge care.
Healthshares usually have a team of people who listen to your needs and help you make care decisions. They’ll point you to the right professionals and negotiate lower costs on everything from prescriptions to procedures.
While healthshares aren’t right for every family, they are probably right for more families than you realize.
As the cost of conventional health insurance and care goes up, so does healthshare enrollment. Those who are new healthshare members say they’ve never had more peace of mind when they think about their medical future.
How do you know if a healthshare is right for your family or not?
If you’re trying to decide if it’s time to start hunting for a healthshare, it’s helpful to understand how much healthshare plans can differ from one to the next.
For example, some programs allow members to “share” (what insurance companies call “cover”) preventative care or prescription coverage, and some do not.
Some plans work with Health Savings Accounts (HSA), and some make no use of them at all. The benefits change from plan to plan.
Healthshares tend to work well for families who mindfully care for their health.
If you don’t find yourself in the doctor’s office that often, a healthshare helps make sure that unexpected or emergency medical expenses don’t result in financial hardships.
A healthshare may not be for you if you or a family member have a pre-existing condition or visit a caregiver for frequent treatment.
While some healthshares allow members to share these kinds of costs, and most allow them when they are well-managed, others will exclude them from sharing.
Here are 3 tips on how to find the right healthshare for your family.
1. Review plans carefully.
When it comes to searching for the right healthshare, you will find as many options as the prom queen has dance partners.
It’s important to remember that healthshares, unlike health insurance, are unregulated by the Affordable Care Act.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t trustworthy, but it does mean that they all offer different features. Do your due diligence.
2. Ask the right questions.
When you search for your healthshare, make sure to address the most important things to you.
For example, do you have an HSA? A high-cost prescription? Or, do you plan on having a baby soon? Check to be sure your healthshare is going to meet all your needs.
3. Get help from an expert.
Finally, there’s no need to go it alone.
Indipop, a website dedicated to helping self-employed professionals find the right healthshare, curates a great list of plans.
They make it easy to see your options and compare healthshares they have vetted to be the best in the business.
The bottom line.
Suppose you’re worried about your family’s health in an emergency but have found traditional health insurance prohibitively expensive.
In that case, a healthshare could be your lifeline. It’s an affordable option for the “what if” major medical occurrence and a majority of plans offer additional services for your everyday health.