June 10, 2014

IMAGINE THERE’S NO INSURANCE: It’s easy if you try:

The ACA is not the only game health care game in town. Either because they are opposed to the values embodied in the ACA or because they are unable to afford the costs it imposes, some people are dropping out of mainstream insurance altogether. WaPo looks at some of the health care programs they are opting into instead. Of particular note are groups like Christian Healthcare Ministries. Members of CHM pool money to pay for each other’s health care bills, out of pocket and unmediated by insurance.

We don’t know how many people are using this kind of system; the piece does tell us that CHM has 80,000 members, and the overall number is probably vanishingly small. But CHM and similar groups represent a kind of approach that deserves more attention than it is getting, for two reasons. First, it encourages responsible health care use. . . .

Cost-sharing groups therefore provide exactly the kind of cost-controlling incentives that an impersonal, national insurance system can’t. Perhaps more importantly, programs like this introduce some sense of social solidarity into the health care market.

George Korda, a Knoxville columnist and radio host, has used CHM for years and tell me it’s been a really good deal for him. I do wonder if it’s scalable.