Free Market Alternatives to Obamacare

By Jeff Paul

Why do car insurance companies charge more for teenage boy drivers? Because they pose a higher risk of filing an insurance claim from accidents, mud bogging, speeding tickets, etc. Insurance companies must manage a pool of risk against potential expenses. Riskier participants pay a higher premium. This is not rocket science.

Yet health insurance companies are now prevented by the Obamacare law from charging a higher premium to “riskier” clients. Thus the cost of insurance premiums and copays had to be raised on healthy people to absorb this perversion.

Peter Schiff stated it perfectly in a recent tweet:

Today, health insurance costs about the same for a family of four as a mortgage payment for the typical single family home. If, God forbid, you actually need care, the yearly deductible is usually equal to yet another annual mortgage payment. And if you fail to purchase this overpriced garbage, you get fined by the government. Can you say mafia racket?

Shortly into his Administration, Donald Trump signed an Executive Order (Minimizing the Economic Burden of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act Pending Repeal) instructing the IRS and other agencies to ignore penalties under Obamacare.

The Executive Order directs agency heads to “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay the implementation of any provision or requirement of the Act that would impose a fiscal burden on any State or a cost, fee, tax, penalty, or regulatory burden on individuals, families, healthcare providers, health insurers, patients, recipients of healthcare services, purchasers of health insurance, or makers of medical devices, products, or medications.”

This set the tone for what many hoped would be a complete repeal of Obamacare. However, it looks like politics as usual is taking over and Trumpcare looks a lot like Obamacare Light with very few changes. Luckily there are a few options for you to save money on health care no matter what bill gets passed.

For now it appears the IRS has backed off from pursuing fines if you fail to carry health insurance. This frees you up to seek more affordable options. However, no matter what route you decide to take, there’s only one way to make sure your medical costs are as low as possible: GET HEALTHIER!

You cannot control the laws. You cannot control the costs. You cannot control the system. What you can control is how you take care of yourself. The less medical attention you need, the less you’ll pay.

You don’t need an elaborate plan to be healthy. Being healthy is super simple. It’s discipline that’s difficult.

Here’s a simple daily health checklist:

  1. Eat real food
  2. Drink clean water
  3. Move your body
  4. Get enough sleep
  5. Meditate, pray, or journal

Touch those bases each day. Make a list of real foods and stick to them. Get a water filter that removed chlorine, lead, and fluoride. Start exercising, and make sure you get a good nights sleep every night. Learn about what goes into a high quality mattress at the sleep judge. Build habits around these points and you will drastically reduce your chances of needing medical attention.

Four Free Market Alternatives to Obamacare

Tax-Free Health Savings Accounts

Whether you have a normal job or you’re self-employed, opening a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Flexible Spending Account (FSA) is a must. The accounts allow you to save and grow pre-tax income to pay out-of-pocket medical expenses. These are the most tax-friendly accounts you can open.

HSA

To qualify for a Health Savings Account, you must be enrolled in a high-deductible health plan that doesn’t cover all your medical expenses. Most plans qualify these days.

HSAs have triple tax advantages: 1) You fund them with pre-tax income, 2) account value grows tax-free, and 3) you can spend funds tax-free if used for qualified medical expenses.

Funds in an HSA can be invested similar to an individual retirement account (IRA). Just as with a self-directed IRAs, health savings accounts can also be self-directed into CDs, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, real estate, precious metals, public and private stock, notes, and more. Plus, once you reach age 65, all non-medical withdrawals are taxed at your current tax rate, just like a traditional IRA.

Also like some retirement accounts, there are contribution limits. For 2017, the deposit limit is $3,400 for singles and $6,750 for families. In 2018, those amounts increase slightly to $3,450 and $6,900, respectively.

Check with your local bank to see if they offer HSAs. Or go to Vanguard which has a great HSA portal with options for Individual or Business health savings accounts. They allow you to invest into their funds and other financial products through your HSA.

FSA

Flexible Spending Accounts are very similar to HSAs in that you save pre-tax dollars, except FSA funds must be spent in the same year.  And FSA funds can be spent on a broader spectrum of out-of-pocket medical expenses.

According to Healthcare.gov, you can spend FSA funds to pay deductibles and copayments, but not for insurance premiums. You can spend FSA funds on prescription medications, as well as over-the-counter medicines with a doctor’s prescription.  FSAs may also be used to cover costs of medical equipment like crutches, supplies like bandages, and diagnostic devices like blood sugar test kits.

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FSAs are limited to $2,600 per year, per employer. If you’re married, your spouse can also put up to $2,600 in an FSA with their employer.

Health Sharing Ministries (Cooperatives)

A health care sharing ministry is an organization that facilitates sharing of medical costs among individual members who have common ethical or religious beliefs. These cooperatives were grandfathered into the ACA (Obamacare) law. They can be much less expensive than insurance, but they typically have stricter health standards for participants.

Health  share  ministries  exclude  some  pre-existing  conditions which affect around 5% of applicants. Most conditions can be corrected or managed by lifestyle choices. That’s why these cooperatives offer affordable options for wellness coaches to reduce the medical costs of participants.  The “ounce of prevention” approach helps allow them to keep prices so low.

The  three  most  popular  health-share  cooperatives  are  Liberty Health Share, Altrua HealthShare, and The Health Co-Op.

The flowchart below by Altrua gives you a general sense of how it works.

Forbes claimed last year that health sharing ministries could save a family of four around $20,000 per year.

Even with the richest offering from Liberty, a family of four saves over $20,000 per year while providing far superior primary care. Traditional health insurance has turned primary care into a milk-in-the-back-of-the-store referral machine.

Here’s the cost breakdown of Liberty’s premium plan.

See the rest of Liberty’s prices here.

Concierge Medicine

With concierge medicine you pay a monthly or annual retainer directly to your doctor, practice, or a facility. They become your personal health team. Concierge services limit the number of patients they see. This gives them the time to develop a comprehensive prevention and personal treatment plans.

There are also various app services vying to become the “Uber for doctors” where they deliver a reviewed primary care physician, on demand, right to your door. Check out Heal for doctors and Honor for nurses and home health aides.

You may have heard of some doctors ditching insurance altogether. But surgeons? The Surgery Center of Oklahoma describes itself as a “free-market   loving,   price-displaying, state-of-the-art, AAAHC accredited, doctor owned, multispecialty surgical facility.”

By publicly displaying their prices, the Surgery Center shamed local area hospitals into having to show prices, too. This showed potential patients the vast price difference between “free-market” care versus bureaucratic medicine.

Watch the video report below by Reason TV for more background:

Medical Tourism

For certain procedures you can save a lot of money by traveling to a foreign country for medical treatment. This is commonly called medical tourism. Often procedures can be thousands of dollars cheaper overseas. Popular regions for high-quality medical care for Americans are Mexico, Costa Rica, India, and Thailand.

You can find nearly any type of procedure in these countries. You’ll even encounter some that you can’t get in the United States. However, due to cost spreads and other factors, the most popular treatments are cosmetic surgery, dentistry, cardiovascular, orthopedics, and fertility.

Make sure your savings are more than travel costs. For instance, if you can get $15,000 worth of dental work done in Costa Rica for $5,000, that’s a no-brainer. Your travel and lodging will cost much less than the $10,000 saved.

Two good resources to learn more are Patients Beyond Borders and Treatment Abroad.

Jeff Paul writes for Activist Post and Counter Markets newsletter. Like us on Facebook, subscribe on YouTube, follow on Twitter and at Steemit.

This article is Creative Commons. You may republish in full with attribution and link to this post.


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8 Comments on "Free Market Alternatives to Obamacare"

  1. ACA is anything less than another tax.
    Repeal this baloney President Donald Trump.
    It does not need to be replaced.
    Privatization was fine until the first hmo started raising the price of ‘health’.
    Government driven crap is just that.
    Kudos and thumbs up for these docs.

  2. Single payer is still the only thing that makes any sense!

    • when the single payer is the individual, you are correct.
      When the single payer is the “State”, well, you are not so right.
      Remember that the payer makes the care decisions.

      What we have today is NOT “insurance”. Insurance is something you purchase to hedge against the risk of getting sick or injured. If your policy covers say colonoscopy every 5 years, that is not a risk.

      We all have to stop using the term insurance. We have pre-paid healthcare plans.

  3. hvaiallverden | August 11, 2017 at 3:09 pm | Reply

    I like some of it, but consider this, common sense in real time.
    Why dont we get the bottom line numbers, where goes to what, until that materializes we just thread water, and assume much witch have to say at least an shaky foundation.

    Pension.
    Most people, ordinary ones, dont live long anuf to actually realize the full pension, thats an fact.
    Health care, I like the fee one, because again, the bottom line, health people, with an base where health is free, or symbolic levels, the more tax you get in, capice this is social policy at its best.

    What it eventually costs, must be seen in the overall, skim of things, activa/pasiva.
    Not rocket science either.
    Incl medication witch have morphed into something I define as an good old fashion mafia.
    in Norway we had an jaw dropping revelation, in 4 years, our health expenses have gone up 25 %, and that on medication alone, witch I presume incl vaccines and all sorts of quackery, to an price even Don Corleone would think was robbing an person.
    And on top of it, and this is where I get pissed, is the censure, the robber stamping of everything, as classified, taken away from the peoples possibility and god dammed right so see what our f…. Gov, spends money on.
    I am getting more and more an fan of death penalty as I get older, or at least use an good old fashion, whipping in public of CDO and Politicians.

    MAVdonals or die, take an pick.

    But, the present world isnt build for humans, much work is damaging, health risky, and so on, all this must be an part of society’s progress and should fall into the free health care system.

    I know there is a lot of misery and pain, but as personal my own experience as an back damaged person, I have to say one thing, why the heaven sake have backs been politicized.
    if you have an damage, as I have, you may not see it, as long I am still, or walks slowly, and I can still do minor task, but not work, And what is the common peoples perceptions on people whom have issues, this days where people are building muscles where their body’s decays, poisoned from within, am I then seen as an f…. criminal, yeah, PlayStation playing dope head, (well hehe) but I have an issue with the so called Training Programs, aka Physiotherapy, witch is to me, the single most damaging event I encountered while I got worse and worse, from before, and what I was confronted with was this, if you dont train, you are an criminal or at least, somehow, don’t want to train, even thoe I tried to explain it to them, I was cutting down on everything, went from been 45 to 90 overnight, I simply had to stop physical activity and cut it down to bare minimum, and even shitting because an risk sport, but I was in top shape, and training was my least concern, and I knew more activity will damage me, and it took 2 weeks, and I barely managed to walk to the car, and from then on an 6 month journey into something I couldn’t imagine, and that into pain,I know what an white out is in pure pain, do you.
    An needle into mine spine was just fun, hehe, a but like been teased.
    But I dont eat Opiates, I smoked as an train, not for pain, but to just survive mentally as an person this days.
    Without cannabis, I simply dont know, it was just dammed close.

    Look to other country’s and learn, eventually you all will benefit.

    peace

  4. One of my pet peeves is not being able to get a price out of any of the dentists in USA without an expensive appointment, workup & “treatment plan”. Makes it very difficult to shop for best price especially when you have no insurance. In Costa Rica the prices are listed for all procedures ahead of time. Quality was good & price was very good.

  5. A really tired old argument made with no deep understanding of markets.

    Modern medicine is not, and can never be, a free market.

    Just the fact that only doctors with certain accepted credentials can prescribe life-saving drugs should tell someone who understands economics that there can be no free market here.

    American medicine is a complex patchwork of market restrictions, limits, and hidden subsidies, such as government funding of medical education, medical research, and even hospitals.

    This article shows a childish understanding of economics.

    What you have in American medicine, at best, is a complex set of things much resembling an international free trade agreement.

    As any economist can tell you, free trade agreements are not truly free trade.

    They are “managed trade” with all kinds of complexities and artificialities built in through difficult negotiations and made law by treaties.

    Their rules and agreements can run thousands of pages.

    Yes, you can just erase free trade agreements such as NAFTA, but even goofy Trump isn’t doing that. He’s renegotiating details, looking to “improve” the treaty.

    Just the same for America’s bizarre medical system – bizarre not just because of Obamacare but for dozens of reasons including various parallel systems such as the VA.

    You could not, if you tried, come up with a more complex and heavy-handed system than America’s.

    Obamacare’s flaws, which are plentiful, just reflect the same mentality as the rest of the system. Private insurance should not even had a role.But try telling that to an american Congressman or Senator.

    The VA and Medicare and other elaborate creations should have been folded into into the same single national market with a common set of rules and a common administration.

    But most of America’s politicians cannot think that way. Lobbying and campaign contributions lock you into a ridiculously complicated and costly system, even without Obamacare.

    Again, the insistence on ending a faulty system which nevertheless helps a good many people is not a sign of intelligence or sound policy.

    Design an alternative, explain how it affects everyone, and then maybe replace Obamacare.

    But there is not a hint of that happening, so you do look a little ridiculous just cutting out theone portion of the total mess which bears the name of a disliked politician.

    The best, most logical approach would prove to be a national single-payer, but I know that will not come in America anytime soon.

    That kind of clear thinking totally eludes many Americans because they have lived with horrible messes all their lives and believe that to just be the way things are.

    They believe in what they have in the same way they believe that the Pentagon is about “defense” or that the CIA is about information.

    America’s system, with or without Obamacare, remains the worst,the most costly, and the least effective in terms of total outcomes of all the systems in all advanced societies.

    The kind of thinking that gives you these ghastly results is literally buried in this piece.

    The writer apparently believes that the famous kitsch painting “The Doctor,” 1891, actually reflects American medicine.

    Good God, what nonsense.

  6. I’ve been saying this for years! Why should I, who is someone who takes care of themselves, does not smoke, is not overweight, who exercises and only socially drinks and who is not of child bearing age, have to pay the same for health insurance as the obese, alcoholic, smoking, couch potato, baby making machines?? It is absolutely not fair-period! I do not need to subsidize health insurance premiums for those who eat junk and abuse their bodies!

  7. You will never fix rising medical costs with more insurance, so why do we keep tying? We could stop rising medical cost by enforcing current laws. Truth in pricing, end blanket consent and stop different pricing for different people.

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