Solidarity Health Share: Discussion Starter

Yesterday The Motley Monk wrote and excellent article informing us about the National Catholic Bioethics Center’s (NCBC) advice, “Dropping All Insurance Coverage…” Speaking as a concerned Catholic, mother and citizen, I would love to see a lot more discussions like this about our options. Catholics have an opportunity, possibly, to lead the way in our nation.

Some commenters suggested an “offer and ignore” approach, and I’ve noticed some other Catholics talking about that approach as well, though only in early stages. More on that toward the end. It’s something dear hubby and I have discussed extensively in the kitchen. Our motivation? We have a large, young family, and since he’s made his career in the insurance business, he’s aware of better possible options. Admittedly, it’s the auto insurance business, but the fundamental purpose of insurance is still the same. A conscientious insurance businessman seeks to:

1) Offer a product that truly adds value to the customer’s life.

2) Build a business that employs people oriented around that principle too.

As a quick aside, the people who see insurance as some big, greedy, capitalist monster have to base that premise (in this country anyway) on the assumption that customers are unable to chose wisely when it comes to the planning of their family’s future. The Trasancos family, obviously, rejects that premise. We don’t need the government to tell us what is good for us. Thank you, but no thanks, Obama et al.

As another quicker aside, it is common knowledge in the insurance industry that the more government regulation there is in any state, the more costs increase in a general linear fashion. Some regulation is necessary. Too much regulation only employs government workers and adds cost to customers. If oppressive regulation is enforced at the federal level, the government is basically ruling us and treating us like idiots.

Consider this question. Feedback or input, including correction, is welcome. It’s a good conversation to have.

How much do you already pay for health insurance? If you get health insurance through your employer (the situation for many Americans), you most likely pay more than you realize for it. Why? Most employee benefit plans pay 75-80% of the cost of coverage, and the employee pays the rest.

For instance, if your employer pays 80% of your insurance cost, so that your portion of the cost is $3,000 a year for health insurance, that may not seem so bad. But, that 80% the employer pays is actually your compensation, something the employer pays to employ your services. It is money that could otherwise be saved by the company, or more appropriately, put into your bank account. Do the math. If $3,000 is 20% of the total, then the true cost of insurance to the family is really $15,000 a year.

That’s $1,250 a month!

We have seven children (but only six still left on our policy), and with sick visits, well visits, dental visits, figuring about 4 visits per year per person in the family, we’d have to pay as much as $468 per visit (every single visit) to meet that $15,000 we are currently paying. Can you imagine visiting the pediatrician for an annual well-visit and writing a check for nearly $500? For a family of four paying for this kind of, affordable-seeming coverage, the truth is even starker. Barring any catastrophes, it means each individual is spending nearly $1,000 per doctor visit if he goes to the doctor four times in a year.


When we lived in Massachusetts, we pursued the option of 1) paying out-of-pocket (even if it were $200, we’d still save thousands), 2) asking the employer to drop our coverage and give us that compensation as income, and 3) purchasing our own catastrophic coverage. The problem? The employer was unwilling, it’s just too novel an idea. The doctors and medical offices were completely unable to quote us an out-of-pocket price. Any guesses why? Finally, no such insurance plans for catastrophic coverage for a family was offered in that state.

No such pathway is defined for families or individuals. But it could be. I think this is where Catholics can organize. We need to demand:

1) Opt-out options from our employers. The case should be easy to make because it puts control of the money back into the employer’s hands, and saves him from the unpredictability of Obamacare, even if fines have to be paid.

2) Cost-sharing co-ops at a local level. Dioceses would be an effective medium to get this started. It’s basically a small insurance company, best run locally, whereby the members pay for catastrophic coverage by contributing to the co-op, and only taking money out when there is a catastrophe. Instead of saying good-bye to $15,000 a year for insurance that is unneeded and unused, a family could put $10,000 or more into the co-op that gives back unspent money at the end of a specified amount of time, or allow the family to pay it forward and save up.

3) Get out-of-pocket price lists. One thing the health share co-ops would have to do first is to work with doctors to give out-of-pocket cost menus, something I think most doctors would want to do because they would get paid immediately. Obamacare is not going to offer them that. It’s conceivable that there could be a flood of doctors opting out of the system too.

What might grow up organically in place of our health care system now, ironically motivated under the threat of oppressive Obamacare, is an underground, but legal, healthcare system available to anyone interested in joining. Very Christian.

Basically — we go back to basics.

So is this a viable way to first ignore, then offer? There will be legal loopholes under Obamacare, but people are already starting to talk about this approach, which brings me to another big point…

One man is already talking doing something, and he knows exactly why we need to do it. His name is Chris Faddis. His wife died last week from colon cancer, a very touching story of faith. I wrote about her briefly here.

Chris’s idea is here: Solidarity Health Share. It’s in the early stages, but it’s worth browsing. Be sure to read the question and answer page.

Thoughts? What am I missing? Any ideas for helping Chris get this off the ground? I’d like to get an interview with him, later when he is able.

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Stacy Trasancos

Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D. is a scientist turned homemaker raising seven children with her husband in New York. She is pursuing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, and she is a Chief Editor at Ignitum Today and a Senior Editor at Catholic Lane. She writes about all that she is learning at her blog, Accepting Abundance.


  1. 2) Cost-sharing co-ops at a local level. The Knights of Columbus were started by Father McGivney to assist in just such a situation: to help the strugling families with healthcare. The Knights of Columbus predate Obamacare by a century and thus are grandfathered into the culture and administration. If Obamacare tries to force citizens out of their innate civil liberties, especially the Knights of Columbus, Obama will fall.

  2. I have something of a one-note response to this. I’ve said the same thing on multiple threads. There shouldn’t be insurance for anything other than catastrophic events. Risk pooling only makes sense if the chances of something are low and the costs of it would be high. I’m sure your husband doesn’t offer oil change insurance. It’d cost $80 per year, and everyone who bought it would spend $80 dollars on it instead of $80 on oil changes. That’s not insurance. There’s no benefit to it. Likewise, we shouldn’t have insurance pay for annual checkups or even the occasional broken arm.

  3. Thanks Mary. I didn’t think about the Knights of Columbus!

    Pinky, Great point. Adding a layer of complexity to getting oil changes would even make the price go up, because not only would you have to pay $80 per year for the same service, you’d also have to pay for the insurance company that takes, manages and redistributes the $80 back to you.

    Auto insurance companies can’t get away with that because people know that they can get the oil changed themselves.

    Think how much a Motrin tablet costs on the itemized bill for a hospital stay. When one of our babies were born, I tried to use my own vitamins from home. Nope! Had to have the pills from the hospital for some crazy price to our insurance company.

  4. Stacy: Great post. Perhaps Chris Faddis cold run the Major Medical as Pinky suggests. It is more than necessary, it is an absolute.

    Should Sebelius decide to write into Obamacare that the bishops will go to Federal prison for two or three years for violating the HHS Mandate, there is nothing to stop it. The Supreme Court has already told us that we are on our own. Biden has already expressed people in chains. Obamacare is not a healthcare policy, Obamacare is a dictatorship.

  5. “The Knights of Columbus were started by Father McGivney to assist in just such a situation: to help the struggling families with healthcare.”

    Prior to about 1920, health insurance as we know it today didn’t really exist. What people bought in the 19th century when the K of C was founded was not designed to pay doctor or hospital bills — those were not terribly expensive since medical care was pretty crude compared to today — but to replace income lost to the family from the breadwinner not being able to work. It was more properly called disability insurance.

  6. I work for a health insurance company. I have worked for my present employer for over 17 years. I worked for my previous employer, another health insurance company, for over five years.

    I could go on and on and on about the problems with health care in general and the health insurance industry in detail, but I am not going to bore everyone with that now.

    Obamacare is designed to run us out of business. Their allies in the media are gleeful accomplices. Remember the anti-HMO media spin in the mid 1990s? There were weekly “horror stories” on 60 Minutes and other TV newsmagazines. My dad was covered by an HMO. He had congestive heart failure and a terrible case of emphysema. By the time he went to a doctor his lungs were nearly gone. His HMO covered just about everything, including a transplant (he was too far gone to get one).

    My own insurance used to be great, when I was single and did not need it. After my wife’s two pregnancies and two miscarriages my own health insurance seemed to shove off on me as much as it covered.

    I turn 49 today. I am not happy. I am scared. I have had a job through this recession, but like most people, my money pays for less and less. Deductibles and copayments have increased as well as what gets deducted from my paycheck, and my employer could be out of business in a decade or less if this obamacare garbage stands.

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