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Alternatives to Standard Health Insurance Options (part two)

Health Savings Accounts. HSAs or "Health Savings Accounts" are not insurance, but unlike the other options, you must have insurance in order to set one up. They provide a way of lowering your premium by accepting a high deductible, in some cases as high as $5000 or more. The federal government allows you to put a certain amount of your income—pre-tax—into the savings account. You then draw out of that account to pay the deductible, co-pays, and other expenses not covered by your insurance, including the co-pay on prescriptions and the cost of things like vitamins, bandages, and even alternative medical treatments. You must keep your receipts as any money you withdraw that is not used for health care is subject to tax. If you do not use the money in one year, it simply continues to grow from one year to the next. Currently there is no ceiling on the accumulation although there is a limit to the amount that can be put in each year. If you lose your health insurance, you can still keep your HSA once you have it started. People in relatively good health often like the HSAs and high deductible insurance policies because they have insurance in the event of a catastrophic illness, but enjoy a lower premium in exchange for virtually self-insuring the day to day health care.

Fraternities or brotherhood organizations: Groups of people with something in common, such as a religious organization or a fraternity sometimes have a health coverage program. An example could be a utility co-op. These are not considered insurance, but if you have one in your area, the local hospital is more likely to react favorably to them than to a discount plan. You pay a monthly premium. That premium is then routed to pay for a particular need in a given month. With some such organizations, you are told each month where to send your premium. If you should be hospitalized yourself, you submit a claim to the organization. In the following month or two, some of the premiums paid by the members will come to you. If you receive more than the amount needed to pay your bill, you will be expected to return the difference so it can be routed to another person's bill. Generally, in order to be successful, these groups depend on the integrity and sense of responsibility of the individual members. Also, you may or may not have to be a member of the specific fraternity in order to join for purposes of health coverage. Utility or farm co-ops often require membership or referral by someone who is. Religious fraternities will not require you to be a member of a given church, but may ask you to sign a statement of faith.