When I graduated from my Family Medicine residency, I made the decision to be an independent contractor and not to take a full time job with an HMO, so I can set my own schedule and practice Integrative Medicine. As an independent contractor, I was responsible for my own health insurance, which I did not have for 6 months after my graduation.
When I calculated the Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalty for what I owe in 2016, if I made $50,000 per year, the penalty would be 2.5% of my income or $1250 per year or $625 for the 6 months I did not have health insurance. If I had paid for insurance from Kaiser, my monthly premium would be $300 to $350 per month. Fortunately, I have no medical problems and I did not have to go to the hospital, but I would have been screwed if something catastrophic happened.
Let’s say my income increases in 2017 to $100,000, my ACA penalty would be $2500 per year if I choose not to buy insurance. That’s why I researched an alternative to health insurance called healthcare sharing ministries, which is exempt from the Affordable Care Act.
I read about Liberty Direct Health Share from a Functional Medicine Forum and I was attracted to the coverage of Integrative Practitioners such as myself. It was the only plan that I found that would cover Integrative medical doctors, chiropractors, naturopathic doctors, acupuncturists, and supplements. In addition, it covers specialists, hospitalizations, surgeries, ER visits, and prescriptions up to 45 days. Best of all you can go to any doctor, there is no network and no red tape. For individual coverage, the premium was only $199 per month, with a $500 deductible per year.
You are probably wondering what’s the catch. It’s not for patients with chronic medical problems that require lifetime medications; it only pays for 45 days of prescription pharmaceuticals. An ideal patient would be health conscious, under 65 years old (otherwise you would be covered by Medicare), and self-funded. They do accept certain pre-existing conditions such as diabetes, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, obesity and smoking, but you have to show progress in meeting health goals with the assistance of a health coach to become a full member.
For this new year, I decided to invest in my own healthcare, in a plan that let’s me choose my own doctor and treatment without the red tape of conventional insurance plans. I would love to hear your experience with the Affordable Care Act. What was your experience like buying insurance and then using your insurance to cover Integrative Medicine?