Jose Suarez and his wife, Amparo (“Ampy”) in 2004 founded HOPE Youth Ranch, (hopeyouthranch.org), a non-profit corporation serving Florida kids through equestrian programs, counseling and special schooling. Their ministry has grown from three to 45 employees and adds more campuses nearly every year. Jose explained why they joined CHM and how the ministry has served their employees.*
How the search for affordable healthcare began
“Ampy and I wanted to provide healthcare as a benefit to employees, but increasing costs for very limited coverage was something we could no longer afford.
“I asked the Lord how we should move forward. I remember sitting in a Lowe’s parking lot when He answered my prayer. As I listened to Christian music on the radio and asked Him what to do, I heard a CHM commercial. I jotted down the number and called right away.”
A shift in thinking
“A hard question for me was Is this real? I had worked in the business world for more than 20 years but had never heard of health cost sharing.
“The CHM staff did a great job of walking me through real-life scenarios and the self-funded plan redirected my focus toward how we could be better stewards of our funds. In time I realized the ministry was simply a different way of meeting healthcare costs. It works and is an eligible option under the Affordable Care Act. We found we could hire more staff and increase our program services to more kids. That’s when we decided to join.”
Alleviating common health cost sharing concerns
1. Administering our staff’s CHM membership will be challenging.
It wasn’t. Our advisors wisely told us to keep it simple: for expenses under $500, give employees a yearly amount and reimburse out-of-pocket costs once per month. So we did, and it has been easy to manage ever since.
2. Health cost sharing is too good to be true.
After just one year with CHM, our employees share their own stories with newer employees about how CHM came through for them by sharing costs for surgeries and emergency room visits. Employees also tell their friends, so it has generated widespread interest.
3. Prescription costs will increase HOPE employees’ out-of-pocket costs.
Diabetic and heart medications tend to be fairly expensive. When we first joined CHM, our staff was concerned that the funds we’d set aside for these expenses wouldn’t be enough, but we had good results after talking with pharmacists and informing them that we were self-pay patients. For example, one staff member’s medication was reduced from $500 to $25.”**
A CEO’s personal experience
“My October 2016 trip to the emergency room incurred more than $38,000 in bills. After I was released, Ampy and I explained to the hospital staff that we were CHM members and self-pay patients. We set up a payment plan and went home. It was so easy. When we received the hospital bill in the mail, we noticed a significant discount that reduced our bill to about $5,000.
We submitted the bill to CHM and after a few months received a check in the mail, which we then used to pay the hospital. Our experience with CHM’s sharing process was wonderful.”
Additional praises from HOPE staff
“Their out-of-pocket cost was the first thing HOPE employees asked about when we presented the concept of health cost sharing. In our first year with CHM, employees’ monthly cost went from $125 to $110 and HOPE paid the $40 balance for Gold membership. This year, our company pays $70, so our employees only pay $80 per month.
In the first year, I put together a table comparing our previous costs to the CHM Gold program. When I showed that CHM had overall equal or lower costs, I could tell they saw the two programs as comparable and didn’t quite understand why we were switching.
However, when I explained what HOPE would save by switching to CHM and told them we could reimburse their out-of-pocket costs for doctor office visits, specialists and medications, the lights came on. They understood—it was like they were getting a raise!”
*Editor’s note: CHM has hundreds of participating groups—all of which are Christian organizations with an all-Christian staff. CHM can help groups create a plan that affordably satisfies healthcare law requirements; however, group plans must be set up properly to avoid heavy fines. For more information, see chministries.org/groups.
**CHM provides each member family with a CHMRx prescription savings card. In 2016, the overall savings rate was 62 percent. For more information, visit chmrx.com.