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ADVANCE Perspective: Nurses

Sharing Medical Costs With Strangers, Sort Of

Published June 1, 2011 3:19 PM by Barbara Mercer

In case you haven’t heard, unless you don’t have insurance through an employer that offsets the cost, it can be very expensive (and even then, it can be pricey). For people requiring treatments or medications for chronic conditions, expenses can quickly become unmanageable. And what about unexpected injuries or ailments? It can add up to a financial nightmare.

 

I talk to providers all the time who are faced with an ever-increasing number of uninsured patients trying to access healthcare wherever they can, which usually means the ED. So this headline caught my eye: Faith-based sharing plans help many Kansans cover medical costs. Huh – how does this work?

 

Simply explained, each member pays an annual fee and a monthly payment that is pooled and directed toward members in need.

 

While this faith-based group has lifestyle requirements that many individuals may find prohibitive and/or discriminatory - in this case, individuals must attend church regularly, cannot be gay, cannot have extramarital sex, cannot smoke, or abuse drugs or alcohol -  let’s keep in mind members join by choice and share common views.

 

This model seems to work due to a level of trust within the faith-based communities that participate, a belief that members are mitigating costs my avoiding behaviors that could lead to illness or high healthcare costs.

 

But couldn’t other like-minded groups share healthcare costs? What if a group of individuals who smoke chose to support each other’s healthcare expenses? Or uninsured people with, say, diabetes contributed to a healthcare cost-sharing account to assist each other?

 

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