[Guest blogger, Jessica Socheski, discusses a few interesting alternatives to the Affordable Healthcare Act]
When The Affordable Healthcare Act (also referred to as Obamacare) went into effect on the first of January this year, many people felt unsure about what their options are when it comes to finding health insurance. Are there any other options besides government healthcare programs? What about the penalties?
Many of the responses to these important questions seem complicated and downright confusing. But there actually are alternatives to signing up for government sponsored health insurance.
While having healthcare is obviously beneficial, the Affordable Healthcare Act might not be as affordable to everyone, nor do its stipulations benefit everyone. With an influx of patients, some predict that there will be a shortage of doctors and longer waiting periods for appointments.
Instead of opting out of healthcare entirely or choosing it because there don’t seem to be any great choices, consider these five healthcare alternatives.
1. Direct Primary Healthcare
Many doctors are either considering this route or have already chosen this route because it may provide better care for their patients. Direct primary healthcare is a doctor-patient relationship where the patient pays an annual or monthly fee straight to the doctor without any insurance requirement because these doctors choose not to work with an insurance company or a government plan.
Not only is direct primary care, or DPC, more affordable, but it also provides better care to the patient because the doctor knows his or her patients well, has more time to be with them instead of having to cut visits short because of an influx of appointments, and is available to the patients at any time.
2. Concierge Medicine
Direct primary care is closely related to the idea of concierge medicine. Sometimes the two terms are used interchangeably because concierge medicine provides the same doctor-patient relationship in which the patient pays an annual fee or retainer. However, there might be other fees attached to concierge medicine (though not always), and certain concierge practices require a wellness plan. Concierge can also take the form of personal doctors. Each option is still providing direct care from a primary care physician, but they both offer different elements depending on the patient’s preferences.
3. Healthcare Sharing Ministries
This option is a voluntary, charitable membership program run by private organizations that share medical expenses among membership. Members of these groups are exempt from paying the tax for being uninsured, and the cost tends to be about half that of The Affordable Healthcare Act. These organizations are not regulated by The Affordable Healthcare Act and include Samaritan Ministries, Christian Healthcare Ministries, Christian Care Ministry, and Liberty Health Share.
4. Short-term Health Insurance Policy
Generally, these policies last between one and eleven months. Operating entirely outside of The Affordable Healthcare Act, these do not offer the same high level of benefits. They are typically used for international travel and accident insurance. But will not fulfill requirements of long term healthcare insurance.
5. Alternative Insurance Plans
Fixed-benefit, critical illness, or accident insurance policies provide coverage in the event of a medical emergency. They cost far less while providing the patient with medical care in the event of an emergency which many people find useful if they do not regularly see a doctor.
While there is still much debate about the effectiveness of the Affordable Healthcare Act, these few alternatives seem to be catching a lot of buzz lately. No matter what, always consult with a qualified physician or check with healthcare.gov to weigh out your options.
About Jessica Socheski