As healthcare insurance prices in the US have skyrocketed, despite passage of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act in 2010, many Americans are turning to a new/old solution: mutualized self-help. As reported in the New York Times, many Christian groups in the US are forming their own unregulated insurance pools to pay the medical bills of their members. Nearly 200,000 people in 58,000 households are now paying their medical expenses in this fashion, to the tune of over $20 million a month. They constitute self-organized financial commons for healthcare.
This trend raises some fascinating questions about state/corporate bureaucracies vs. social commons: Which offers the better value? Which is more reliable and satisfying? Could social commons help bring down the cost of conventional insurance while introducing a more human, caring dimension to healthcare?
Reporter Abby Goodnough tells the story of a family that was priced out of the insurance market, and so decided to cover their potential medical bills through a “sharing ministry.” Instead of paying $600 per month for insurance with a $10,000 family deductible, the Doyle family in San Antonio, Texas, now pays $405 per month. They also pay the first $300 for any medical bill they receive, and there is a spending cap of $250,000 for any illness or injury.