Recurring chest pain and surprising discounts from our Healthcare Sharing Co-op

Hi, Girlfriends.

Before I start, let me say one thing. 

Honesty

These real-life medical stories are certainly not what I wanted to share with you in my blog, and I hope this post is the last installment! I much prefer to share cool RV life adventures with you, but real-life crap seems to be taking the spotlight recently. 

When I started this blog, I promised transparency and honest stories of life on the road.  This is easier said than done. As I watch words spill from my fingertips, it causes me to relive the pain of John’s recent health issues.   

But hey, if our health crisis management helps one of you prepare for a severe health situation, then it is worth it!

Three hospital visits in three months

You’ll recall John’s health issues entered our RV life in January. I titled part 1; We interrupt this RV lifestyle with a medical crisis…and 18 coping strategies

Next, John managed to squeeze in a car crash and a trip to the Trauma Unit for his second episode; Two Girlfriends, one car crash, and seven life lessons. Yes, I have a photo of the totaled car in the post.

As you recall in episode two, John ended up in the Trauma Unit after being T-boned in our friend’s car.   John’s scheduled heart catheterization was delayed by a week because he needed time to heal from the car accident. 

While his sore body healed, it was impossible for him to work.  Coincidentally, we had friends Beth and Randy scheduled to visit us from Philadelphia which proved to be a healthy distraction while we waited for his heart cath.    

Why didn’t Plavix work? 

Dr. Shaheen performed the heart catheterization the next Friday.  We learned that plaque had already begun to build around the stent placed in January.  The reasoning for this?  Some people don’t respond well to Plavix.  John is one of them.  Dr. Shaheen used a balloon technique to push the mushy plaque against the walls of the artery releasing it to flow freely again. 

John’s post-op instructions included a follow-up appointment in six months and a switch to a more expensive anti-coagulant called Brilinta. 

Cautious waiting

So now we wait.  We’ll feel better if John can make it passed a three-month time frame without any chest pain.  Instead of heading to the east coast to visit our sons for the summer, we are intentionally staying close to Tucson…just in case, John needs another catheterization.  Our temporary address for the summer? Venture In RV Resort, located in Show Low, Arizona.

Stumbling into early retirement

The past couple years we’ve been tossing around the idea of having John retire from working part-time each winter at The Voyager RV Resort. It’s not just his heart issue that accelerated the retirement discussion. Recently John’s arthritis has been flaring in his hands causing swollen joints and pain on days especially when he needs to do deep tissue work with his patients. Couple arthritis with a cardiac condition and it was a no-brainer to discuss retirement. Our focus began to shift away from the meaningless distractions of life in order to adopt a healthier perspective on our circumstances. We are optimistically looking forward to this next chapter of our life.

Paying for health care as fulltime RVers

We have been fulltime RVers for four years now.  The first year we had an insurance plan (with a massive deductible) through the state of Texas that covered us nationwide.  Three months into our fulltime experience Texas decided to cancel this program – forcing us to scramble for new coverage. 

Health Sharing alternatives

Friends of ours told about their health sharing network as we discussed our health coverage dilemma.  We did our research and the organization that best suited our needs was Christian Healthcare Ministries or CHM. 

Here is some information about this health sharing ministry;

  • Our monthly policy cost for both John and I = $300. 
  • We also pay an additional $40/quarter for another program which increases our coverage to 1 million per episode of health costs. 
  • CHM is made up of more than 400,000 members across the country. It has been in operation since 1981, is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity, and is a suitable option for individuals under the national healthcare law. Since it’s inception, members have shared more than $3.5 billion in one another’s healthcare costs.

How it works

Health-sharing networks ask members to negotiate a cash pay cost for health services upon check-in.  There is no need to be pre-qualified. 

When John was going to be admitted for his first heart catheterization, I called CHM to make sure I didn’t need to do anything else and to inform them of John’s impending procedure. 

The gal on the phone from CHM assured me all was well.  Luckily, Tucson Medical Center was familiar with CHM and took a small deposit of $400.  At this point, we didn’t know how much of a discount “cash pay” would be from the medical center, but keep reading to learn the surprising amount.

About three weeks after John’s procedure, we began receiving bills for the medical services. I made copies of all the invoices and sent them to CHM.  Just yesterday I received a check from CHM for the full amount of all the bills I submitted.  The turnaround time was about three months. 

Crazy discounts

You may want to brace yourself as you read this next section. 

Our average discount negotiated off the standard hospital charges was…68%!  We could have received an additional 20% off had we qualified with a certain annual low income, but we did not meet the requirements.  John’s Cardiologist gave a 30% discount; the lab work company offered a discount of 50%, the other three vendors gave discounts between 20-50%. 

Also, we were NOT required to pay our $500 deductible because any amount negotiated off the standard charges gets applied toward your deduction. 

Get this. The balances that we owe for all of the invoices from these three hospitalizations? ZERO. You heard me right. ZERO. And the reimbursement check from CHM comes with a thank you letter for participating in the health sharing network.

Other Health sharing networks

Are you under 65 and not eligible for Medicare?  Does our health sharing network sound crazy to you?  Would you like to review some of the significant health sharing networks out there?  Here are some links to help you become informed.    

Thanks for ready my blog and helping me work through the health issues we’ve experienced.  I hope you have learned a few things.  Let me know what was helpful, and please share stories from your own lives that might resonate with mine. 

Love,

Gretty

Related posts:

We interrupt this RV lifestyle with a medical crisis…and 18 coping strategies

Two Girlfriends, One car crash, and Seven life lessons

Would you like to receive my latest posts in your email? Sign up here.