If you’re a self-employed long-haul trucker or rig owner-operator you know that life on the road comes with some unique challenges.
One of them is finding an affordable health plan that works with your lifestyle.
When it comes to OTR/long-haul truckers, traditional health insurance is often a poor fit.
First, if you don’t qualify for an Obamacare health insurance subsidy, premiums these days are prohibitively expensive – running nearly $2,000 per month, on average, to cover a family of four, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Second, the plans with the more affordable premiums available on the Marketplace tend to be HMOs. These plans offer lower premiums compared to other types of traditional health insurance products.
But HMOs also have narrow networks of authorized providers. Often, these networks are regional, and sometimes focused on a particular city.
That doesn’t make sense when you spend most of every week on the road.
That’s where health sharing plans can be a game-changer for truckers.
Let’s explore why these plans can be a great alternative to traditional health insurance, especially for those of you paying for your own health insurance and looking to keep more money in your pocket.
No Network Limitations
Imagine being on a long-haul trip across the country… and needing medical attention.
With most traditional health insurance plans, you’re restricted to a specific network of doctors. These networks are often regional.
This can be a major inconvenience, or worse, a barrier to getting timely care.
Even if there’s a doctor in your plan nearby, you may not be able to get a fast appointment.
Health sharing plans, however, offer a significant advantage here. They typically allow you to see any doctor of your choice, anywhere in the country.
This flexibility is invaluable for truckers who are constantly on the move. It ensures that no matter where you are, you can access healthcare without worrying about network limitations or incurring extra out-of-network costs.
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Health Sharing: A Trucker-Friendly, Affordable Alternative to Traditional Insurance
For many self-employed truckers, especially those who don’t qualify for Obamacare subsidies, the cost of health insurance can be prohibitively expensive.
Health sharing is not insurance, but is an alternative that has rapidly grown in popularity. Health share plans present a more budget-friendly option. Typically, these plans are 35% to 50% less expensive than traditional health insurance, making them a financially savvy choice.
How Do Health Sharing Plans Save Money?
How exactly do health sharing plans achieve their remarkable affordability compared to traditional health insurance?
It’s all in the unique way they are structured and managed. Let’s unpack the key factors contributing to these cost savings.
1. Health-Conscious Community
Health sharing plans typically attract members who are more health-conscious.
This generally leads to lower healthcare usage across the group, as healthier individuals tend to require less medical care. Consequently, this collective wellness translates into reduced costs for everyone involved.
2. Managing Pre-Existing Conditions
Unlike traditional health insurance, health sharing plans typically have waiting periods for pre-existing conditions.
This means that individuals cannot join a plan immediately before a major medical procedure, such as surgery for a pre-existing condition like cancer.
It also means that if your medical records show that you have a preexisting condition, your health sharing plan will not share costs related to treating that specific pre-existing condition or complications of it for a certain number of months or years.
This policy helps keep overall costs lower for the group, as it discourages late enrollment solely for impending expensive treatments.
It also means that if you do have pre-existing conditions, you may be better off choosing a traditional health insurance plan with a wide network, as opposed to a health sharing plan.
3. Direct Negotiation with Healthcare Providers
Health sharing plans typically do not rely on PPO/HMO networks with pre-negotiated rates.
Instead, they often negotiate directly with healthcare providers to secure the best possible value for medical services. This direct negotiation process can lead to more favorable rates and, in turn, lower overall costs for members.
4. Tailored Coverage
Health sharing plans are not bound by the same coverage requirements as traditional health insurance.
This flexibility allows them to exclude coverage for certain procedures or situations, such as gender reassignment surgery, injuries incurred during the commission of a crime, or drug rehabilitation treatment.
This provides health sharing plans with a powerful structural cost advantage compared to traditional health insurance plans. Traditional plans need to pay to cover all these types of claims. Health sharing plans are free to exclude them – thus keeping plan costs down for all members.
5. Choose a Focus on Preventative Care vs. Catastrophic Coverage
Some health sharing plans include preventive care, catering to those who want a comprehensive approach to their health.
Others are designed primarily for protection against large, catastrophic expenses, appealing to individuals primarily looking for a safety net for major health events in order to keep monthly costs low.
This diversity in coverage options allows you to choose a plan that best suits your own personal needs and budget.
In essence, the affordability of health sharing plans is not just a result of one single factor. It’s a combination of a health-focused community, strategic management of pre-existing conditions, direct provider negotiations, selective coverage, and flexible plan options.
For self-employed truckers, traveling salespeople and trainers and other traveling professionals paying for their own health care, these plans represent a financially savvy choice, aligning cost savings with meaningful health coverage.
Are Health Sharing Plans Right for You?
While the benefits are clear, it’s crucial to consider if a health sharing plan aligns with your individual needs.
Here are some factors to ponder:
- Your health status. If you’re generally healthy and need coverage for unexpected medical issues, a health sharing plan could be a great fit.
- Your financial situation. Assess your budget and compare the costs of a health sharing plan with traditional insurance. Factor in not just monthly costs but also out-of-pocket expenses for medical services. If you qualify for a significant subsidy under the Affordable Care Act, it may be worthwhile to buy a traditional health insurance policy rather than a health sharing plan. Just be sure to check any networks to ensure you have coverage wherever you may be driving to.
- Your lifestyle. As a trucker, your job takes you across states, possibly even the country. A plan that doesn’t restrict you geographically can be a huge advantage.
- Personal values. Many health sharing plans are rooted in shared values or faith-based principles. Ensure these align with your beliefs and lifestyle.
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The Road Ahead
Choosing the right health coverage is one of those critical decisions. Health sharing plans offer a route that could lead to significant savings and greater flexibility, aligning perfectly with the unique demands of your profession.
Remember, the goal is not just to find affordable health coverage but to find a solution that fits your lifestyle, keeps you healthy on the road, and supports your financial goals.
Ready to Explore Your Options?
If you’re considering a health sharing plan, don’t navigate this journey alone. Schedule an appointment with a Personal Benefits Manager at HSA for America for a free consultation and plan recommendation.
We’re here to help you understand your options, compare plans, and find the best fit for your life on the road. Together, we can ensure you keep more of your hard-earned money in your pocket while maintaining the health coverage you need.
For Further Reading: Medical Cost-Sharing: A Viable and Attractive Alternative to Traditional Health Insurance | Why You Should Use Independent Doctors? | The Health Care Affordability Crisis is Getting Worse. Here’s What You Can Do About It.
Wiley is President of HSA for America. He believes that consumers should have choice and price transparency, so they can make the best healthcare decisions for their needs. Read more about Wiley on his Bio page.