Retired But Too Young for Medicare? What Now?

Retired But Too Young for Medicare? What Now?

There are plenty of people who retire before the age of 65, whether this was their choice or had retirement thrust upon them. Regardless of the circumstance, these people need health coverage. And since they are ‘retired’ they likely need low or lower cost coverage without sacrificing their quality of care. There are several options for those people according to Houston based neurologist and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative CO-OP, Dr. Steven Goldstein. 

Retired But Too Young for Medicare? What Now?

Fear of Loss

Employees fear losing their company subsidized health insurance and when accepting or choosing retirement, that benefit ceases along with the paycheck. According to Dr. Goldstein, it is a situation worth examining and planning for. “There are several alternatives for people who are not old enough for Medicare,” Dr. Goldstein said. “For one, they can choose an extension of their former employers’ insurance through what is known as COBRA.”

COBRA

COBRA stands for “Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. “It’s a law that since 1985, provides for continuing group health insurance coverage for employees and family members after what they call ‘job loss’,” Dr. Goldstein said. “But, it only applies at companies with more than 20 employees and to state and local government workers. It does not apply to federal workers, churches, or some church related organizations. What’s more this is a short-term fix because there is an 18-month limit on this option. So for someone who is 60 this will get them to 61.5. But there are those other 3.5 years remaining.” COBRA is also a costly choice. Those choosing it can expect to pay up to 102% of the premiums including the part your employer used to pay. 

Affordable Care Act

Options for the Affordable Care Act or Obama-Care are available on line. While the politics of healthcare mean that future choices may be different or even non-existent, but at the moment the law remains in place. “Here in Texas, everyone is required to have health insurance, but they are not required to purchase it through the government,” Dr. Goldstein said. “There is no longer the threat of a fine from the federal government for not having health insurance but going without is never a good idea.”

Healthcare Co-Ops

People can and probably should consider one of the health sharing cooperatives. There are several from which to choose, not the least of them the Houston Healthcare Initiative CO-OP. But according to Dr. Goldstein, there is more to the Houston Healthcare Initiative CO-OPthan inexpensive health coverage. “Our first priority is to improve our members health first and help pay for ‘sick care’ second,” Dr Goldstein stated. “As people work with us to manage their own health, the cost goes down. When they do get sick, we can provide lists of places to get the best prices on prescription medicine, tests, imaging and hospitalization. But, and I want to really stress this, our approach to managing the cost of healthcare is to find ways to be sick less often. We help people manage their weight, level of fitness and other choices they can consciously make to be healthier. So, if you want to save money on healthcare, find ways to be sick less often.”

To find ways to be sick less often and save on health coverage, then look to the  Houston Healthcare Initiative CO-OP and visit the web site at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

 

 

 

Special Offer From The Houston Healthcare Initiative

The Houston Healthcare Initiative began for one reason and that was to improve health, lower healthcare costs and provide access to doctors, medicine and treatment. There is a myth promulgated by the insurance companies that you can’t get access to healthcare if you do not have insurance. This is just not true. Starting Monday June 1, 2020, The Houston Healthcare Initiative is offering a FREE Seizure Clinic.

Special Offer From The Houston Healthcare Initiative

For seizure patients out of work because of the pandemic, we will see in office for no fee as well as provide 30 days of seizure medication for free as long as supplies last. Patients may pay office visit fees after they get back on their feet. During the COVID-19 pandemic, new patients can be seen using telemedicine for $75 & followups for $35. Insured patients will have copays waived.

 

Houston Healthcare Initiative Offers Affordable Health Care Via “Cooperative” Payments

A new way to fund healthcare is now available. The Houston Healthcare Initiative (HHI) is a member owned, non-profit medical co-op that is now open for business. Led by Houston based neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein, the HHI (https://houstonhealthcareinitiative.org) will replace traditional health insurance for qualified individuals and families and provide incentives for members to adopt healthier lifestyle habits. HHI will provide affordable medical coverage through a combination of negotiated rates, low monthly payments, personal accountability and lifestyle incentives. The medical co-op promises to save qualifying individuals and families money on health insurance. At the same time, HHI will help uphold quality care by asking members to bear some responsibility and individual accountability for maintaining their personal health.

Complexities of Health Coverage

Healthcare and what causes rates for services and insurance to go up at a startling rate are complicated. What is not that complex is the need for an affordable way to pay for most medical and doctor related expenses. That is what the Houston Healthcare Initiative (HHI) is offering in the form of a member owned co-op. The HHI initiative can replace traditional health insurance for qualified individuals and families. HHI will provide affordable medical coverage through a combination of negotiated rates, low monthly payments, personal accountability and lifestyle incentives. The medical co-op promises to save qualifying individuals and families money on health insurance. At the same time, HHI will help uphold quality care by asking members to bear some responsibility and individual accountability for maintaining their personal health.

What HHI Offers

The HHI is similar to traditional insurance but with some unique distinctions. One is the health of the person(s) applying impacts the price charged by the co-op. The amount of the monthly payment is based on personal lifestyle outcomes. For example, a non-smoker who has a body mass index of less than 25 and can walk a mile in less than 30 minutes gets the best rate because he/she is the healthiest.

People who do not match these criteria pay more but have the opportunity to get the lowest rates if their weight and fitness levels improve. “We wanted to have a system that rewarded people who are healthier with lower rates while at the same time, provide incentives for them to improve,” said Dr. Steven Goldstein, founder of HHI. “With the exception of charging more for smokers, traditional insurance generally does not distinguish between healthier people nor does it give them a financial incentive to lose weight or become more physically fit. HHI does both.”

HHI Issued Debit Card

Members of the co-op receive a personal/family healthcare account that allows payment for routine medical procedures with a member debit card, issued by the HHI bank. The other is a trust that is maintained to allow members to pay for non-routine charges like hospital stays, specialists, surgery, and extensive tests to name a few. In addition to the cost savings, members receive a free screening (check-up) and access to the 24-hour free doctors’ hotline for routine questions. “Not every question for a doctor requires an office visit, which is why the hotline is so handy,” Dr. Goldstein said. “We believe that this approach to paying for health care will be a big help to people who are unable to afford it or do not receive employer subsidized health insurance.”

Summary of Benefits Defining Types of Health Care/Health Challenges

  1. Preventative – covered by the free yearly HHI check-up and doctor hot line.
  2. Behavior modification – leads to lower priced coverage under HHI.
  3. Injury treatment – covered by HHI.
  4. Acute illnesses – covered by HHI.
  5. Degenerative and/or genetic illness – covered by HHI.
  6. End stage care – covered by HHI.

About HHI

The Houston Healthcare Initiative (HHI) is a non-profit, member owned medical cooperative that combines affordable health pricing with personal accountability and lifestyle incentives. With a single payment, members pay monthly into two separate accounts. To learn more visit the company website https://houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

 

 

 

Overweight People Have Double the Risk For Stroke… Is Losing Weight More Difficult Than Recovering from A Stroke?

February 12, 2019 (Houston, TX.) Houston based neurologist and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative (www.houstohealthcareinitiative.org) Dr. Steven Goldstein talked about the risk of strokes and their relationship to weight and obesity on his weekly podcast. To hear his weekly podcast go to: iTunes,Soundcloud or the Houston Healthcare Initiative web site.

While the outcomes from strokes are always bad, Dr. Goldstein allowed that from a pure psychological point of view, losing weight was more difficult than recovering from a stroke. “Assuming the patient survives and has the ability to rehabilitate him or herself, there is a lot of motivation for them to do the things that will lead to recovery,” Dr. Goldstein told his audience. Losing weight means changes in lifestyle, adding exercise, eliminating things that we all like to eat and drink in a process that takes a lot of sacrifice. It is very hard to maintain this type of change over any amount of time. Motivation for losing weight is psychologically challenging, but it is better to lose weight than endure a stroke.

What Is A Stroke

There are two types of strokes but a basic way to understand them is to know that a stroke happens when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. Brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. There are different outcomes from a stroke, and they are always bad. A stroke can cause the victim to permanently lose speech, movement, memory or even lead to death. In fact, there are approximately 185,000 people who die from stroke here in the U.S. every year. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in America and a leading cause of adult disability.

Different Types of Strokes

There are two types of stroke, hemorrhagic and ischemic. Hemorrhagic strokes are less common, in fact only 15 percent of all strokes are hemorrhagic, but they are responsible for about 40 percent of all stroke deaths. A hemorrhagic stroke is either a brain aneurysm burst or a weakened blood vessel leak. Blood spills into or around the brain and creates swelling and pressure, damaging cells and tissue in the brain. The hemorrhagic stroke is less common but deadlier where the ischemic stroke is more common and less deadly. But any type of stroke is to be avoided if possible.

Ischemic strokes occur when the arteries to the brain become narrowed or blocked, causing severely reduced blood flow, known as ischemia. Specific symptoms of an ischemic stroke depend on what region of the brain is affected. Certain symptoms are common across most ischemic stroke, including: vision problems, such as blindness in one eye or double vision, weakness or paralysis in the limbs, which may be on one or both sides, depending on the affected artery. Victims can also experience dizziness and vertigo, confusion, loss of coordination or even a drooping of face on one side.

Obesity and Strokes

New research shows that being overweight more than doubles the chances of having a stroke. In addition to increasing the risk of stroke, being overweight makes it more likely that you will have a stroke at a younger age. Medical scientists have found that being overweight leads to hypertension (high blood pressure), and diabetes both of which are the leading causes of stroke. Another effect of being overweight is that the body’s metabolism changes in ways that lead to an excess of circulating lipids, high cholesterol and elevated blood glucose, all of which, over time, harm the blood vessels of the brain and the heart and lead to the formation of stroke-causing blood clots in the heart and brain. There are some other links between obesity and stroke that are independent of hypertension, diabetes, and a high cholesterol level that are commonly associated with being overweight. So, to reduce your risk of stroke, try to lose weight.

To Learn More

The Houston Healthcare Initiative is set up to help people pay less for health care and become healthier. The more the costs of health maintenance arise, the more often the issue of weight comes up. There is help available in the form of co-operative relationships and the tools to lose weight and avoid a stroke. Those who want to know more can visit the web site at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.orgor call with question at 346 400 2789.

Opioids and Pain Killers Can Make Back Conditions Worse

February 25, 2019 – Dr. Steven Goldstein told listeners to his weekly podcast that not only were opioid pain killers not the best option for treating back pain but that they could make the situation worse. Dr. Goldstein is a well-known neurologist and the founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast. The podcast can be heard on iTunes, Soundcloud and at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Why is Back Pain Such a Common Condition?

According to Dr. Goldstein there are numerous reasons. “The disk material that is in between each vertebral body deteriorates as we age,” he told listeners. “It is the shock absorber that protects the spine when weight is carried. The back and spine can be displaced from a sudden heavy lift or from an injury such as an auto accident and is commonly known as a slipped disk but is more likely when disks are degenerated. Other common causes of back pain include sprain of paraspinous muscles or sprain of ligaments that hold the spine in place.

Sprains can also occur in the small joints of the spine known as facet joints or in the ‘Sacroiliac joints’ where the tail bone connects to the pelvis.  Arthritic changes in the spine can flare and cause pain, seemingly without any injury. In the majority of cases the back pain will resolve with a short period of rest followed by gentle aquatic exercise to strengthen muscle and tighten ligaments. Contrary to popular opinion the pain from a slipped disk will respond to this treatment in most cases unless there is continued pressure on a nerve root exiting the spine. Studies show 90% will resolve in 12 weeks.

Chronic Back Pain

Chronic back pain is defined as pain that persists for 12 weeks or longer. “In my practice, the most common cause is the use of opioids in the early acute phase of the illness,” Dr. Goldstein said. “What happens is that the narcotic is effective in relieving the back pain. The patient unwittingly gets up and goes about normal activity. If there is inflammation from a slipped disk or sprained muscles or ligaments the extra activity will make the condition worse.”

Instead of opioids, Dr. Goldstein recommends patients use the pain as their ‘friend’. “If a given activity is causing pain, stop doing it and lie down. If the pain is so severe that a strong narcotic is necessary, lie down and rest for 3-4 hours until the medicine wears off before trying to do any activity.”

The Houston Healthcare Initiative is a medical co-op that is a non-profit company, owned by the members to provide ‘insurance’ at greatly reduced costs. To learn more visit, www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.com.

 

 

How Insurance Companies Medical Providers and Drug Companies Game the System

How Insurance Companies Medical Providers and Drug Companies Game the System

March 5, 2019 – For those feeling beat up, picked on, and maybe even a bit bullied by their doctor, hospital and health insurance company there is probably good reason to believe that way. Doctors and hospitals are charging more for services and insurance companies are denying more claims.  Patients need both their health care providers and insurers, but as respected neurologist and Houston Healthcare Initiative Co-Op (www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org) founder Dr. Steven Goldstein tells his podcast audience, this is not a normal ‘business-customer’ relationship.  The Houston Healthcare Initiative Co-Op podcast can be heard on Soundcloud, iTunesand the web site at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Human Shields

The Houston Chroniclereported that ‘doctors and insurance companies have proven they are willing to use patients as ‘human shields’ but what were they really saying? According to Dr. Goldstein, “the conflict is about money.” Dr. Goldstein told his audience that the insurance companies wanted premiums to be as high as possible. But the blame does not stop with the insurance company. “Doctors and hospitals want to charge whatever the traffic will bear,” he said. “A system has evolved that benefits insurance companies, doctors and hospitals but is to the detriment to the patient.”

How Doctors and Insurance Companies Do It

Here is how patients get screwed: Very high list prices for various services have been set up by hospitals and doctors. Insurance companies negotiate contracted prices for these services that are significantly less than the list price and they claim these negotiated rates have benefited the patients, “Anyone selling something can claim a high price, but then list the item as ‘on sale’ for a price that is much less and make it seem like a big savings but it is a big fake out,” he said. “That is what the insurance companies are doing to you.”

Human Piñatas

When hospitals are forced to compete in the marketplace, the market determined cash price for just about anything they offer is usually much less than the insurance company negotiated price. “Less than a shield, patients are used more like piñatas who take a beating from both the hospital and the insurance company,” Dr. Goldstein said. But according to Dr. Goldstein, there are more sensible things people can do to protect themselves and save money.

The Insurance Alternative

Alternatives to traditional health insurance are available from medical co-operatives, or co-ops. The Houston Healthcare Initiativeis a member owned, non-profit medical co-op. It will replace traditional health insurance for qualified individuals, families and provides incentives for members to adopt healthier lifestyle habits. The medical co-op promises to provide more value for the healthcare dollar. “At the same time, we will help uphold quality care by asking members to bear some responsibility and individual accountability for maintaining their personal health,” Dr. Goldstein said.  “It removes the insurance company from the relationship between doctor and patient, thus getting rid of all that expense from administering insurance,” he said.

In the medical co-op model, people pay directly for their care at the cash rate. Large hospital expenses are reimbursed by the co-op trust. “Thus, in one fell swoop, a big piece of what is wrong with the healthcare industry is removed from the equation,” Dr. Goldstein concluded.

About Houston Healthcare Initiative Co-Op

The Houston Healthcare Initiative Co-Op is a member owned, non-profit cooperative owned by the members. To learn more visit them on line at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

How Strokes Happen When You Are the Same Age As Luke Perry

March 13, 2019 (Houston, TX) — Actor Luke Perry passed away last week following what his publicist described as a ‘massive’ stroke. Perry was 52 years old. His death leaves people at or close to his age wondering if this could happen to them. That is the topic this week on the Houston Healthcare Initiative Podcast with respected Houston based neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein. The podcast can be heard on iTunes,Soundcloudand www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

Facts About Strokes

Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide and high blood pressure is the leading cause of strokes. Smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, obesity and other cardiovascular diseases put people at greater risk for stroke. “It’s true that most strokes happen in people who are much older than Mr. Perry was,” Dr. Goldstein told his audience. “Strokes in younger people like this are pretty rare. To answer how rare, only about 15 out of 100,000 under the age of 50 have a stroke and of these about 5% will die from it.”

Leading Cause of Strokes In Younger People

The most common cause of strokes in younger people today is drug abuse, particularly cocaine and amphetamines. Other drugs such as marijuana, heroin and “kush” are also associated with an increased incidence. Blood clots from the heart are also common. Holes in the heart and Mitral Prolapse are relatively common causes of strokes as well. Young women are also at increased risk from birth control pills. Arterial dissection happens when the layers of the artery wall separate.  “A blood clot will often form between the layers of the artery wall and blocks blood flow,” Dr. Goldstein reported. “If this occurs in a major blood vessel to the brain, it blocks blood flow and leads to a stroke.”

Holes in the Heart

A hole in the heart or ‘patent foramen ovale’ as they are known, is just what it says it is. “When a newborn baby takes his/her first breath a passageway between the left side and right side of the heart is supposed to close,” Dr. Goldstein said. “In about 25 percent of people, it remains open. In some of these people, the hole can raise the odds of stroke because small blood clots in the right heart that normally get cleared by the lungs, cross into the left heart and are swept to the brain.”

Blood Disorders

There are genetic conditions that make blood likely to form clots. Sickle Cell Anemia is one such disorder. Infections and other inflammatory diseases of arteries can also cause blood clots.

Aneurysms

A brain aneurysm is an entirely different type of stroke. Rather than a blood clot blocking a blood vessel, this type of stroke is caused by a hemorrhage into the brain tissue and affects brain function by compressing the surrounding tissue. “The biggest risk factor for this type of stroke is high blood pressure,” Dr. Goldstein said. “This can cause a small artery to burst even without anything wrong with the blood vessels. If there is a balloon-like bulge in a blood vessel (called an aneurysm) bleeding is even more likely. An arteriovenous malformation is a congenital tangle of blood vessels containing arteries and veins that can also bleed.

Ways to Avoid Strokes

Dr. Goldstein had four suggestions anyone could follow to reduce the risk of stroke.

  1. Stop smoking.
  2. Check blood pressure and treat appropriately.
  3. Do Not use Street Drugs.
  4. A routine physical can pick up blood diseases, infections or inflammation. Genetic diseases can be uncovered by family history.

Symptoms of Stroke

Dr. Goldstein listed these as the symptoms of stroke.

  1. Numbness in the extremities or the face, especially if it is only on one side of the body. Trouble speaking, understanding speech or sudden confusion.
  2. Blurred vision or trouble seeing.
  3. Issues with balance and coordination.
  4. Severe headaches with no known cause.

“Any of these should get our attention whether in ourselves or someone else, Dr. Goldstein said.

“But unfortunately, many people never know they have an underlying problem until they suffer a brain hemorrhage.”

F.A.S.T.

The American Heart Association recommends using the acronym F.A.S.T. to remember how to catch the warning signs of a stroke:

Face is drooping.

Arms are weak.

Speech difficulty.

Time to call 911.

And to get a better grasp on your own health, please contact the Houston Healthcare Initiative at 346-400-2789 or visit the website at www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

 

HHI Podcast Page

The Houston Healthcare Initiative Co-Op Podcast Page!

What Is Prior Authorization & What To Do About It

Prior approval is a way that insurance companies decide on how or whether a prescribed medical service, medication, test or procedure meets their coverage criteria. What can people do? Listen to find out.

 

What If I Do Not Have Health Insurance?

What happens if someone does not have health insurance? The ramifications will affect the tax filings of people this year but be different next year. Beyond the financial implications, there are others for patients and their loved ones. Here to help us learn what to do and why is Houston based neurologist and the founder of the Houston Health Initiative Dr. Steven Goldstein. You can learn more about The Houston Healthcare Initiative Co-Op at their web site, www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.

 

An overview of the Houston Healthcare Initiative Co-Op. 

Complexities of Health Coverage

Healthcare and what causes rates for services and insurance to go up at a startling rate are complicated. What is not that complex is the need for an affordable way to pay for most medical and doctor related expenses. That is what the Houston Healthcare Initiative (HHI) is offering in the form of a member owned co-op. The HHI initiative can replace traditional health insurance for qualified individuals and families. HHI will provide affordable medical coverage through a combination of negotiated rates, low monthly payments, personal accountability and lifestyle incentives. The medical co-op promises to save qualifying individuals and families money on health insurance. At the same time, HHI will help uphold quality care by asking members to bear some responsibility and individual accountability for maintaining their personal health.

 

 

Changing Insurance Providers & Managing Change

Medical and health coverage is often a complex proposition for people whether they are thinking of changing providers or getting one for the first time. HHI has a free brochure and lots of other free information about the coverage available from the web site at: houstonhealthcareinitiative.org. Or call them at 346-400-2789 and talk with them in real time.

 

Unintended Consequences of Not Purchasing Insurance

Remember President Obama’s promise to lower health care rates? Experts now say health insurance will be crazy expensive again in 2019. The Heritage Foundation’s Doug Badger says Obamacare was supposed to get lots of young subscribers to sign up and help subsidize the older among us, but that didn’t happen. Young people found that in many cases paying the penalty was still less expensive than insurance. Consider too that millennials tend to marry and start families later in life than those who came before them, so the perceived need for insurance is not as obvious to them as it is for people who have more responsibility. Here to help us make sense of it all is Dr. Steven Goldstein, a much-respected neurologist and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative.

Fines for not purchasing insurance under ‘Obamacare’ were supposed to cause more people buy insurance and lower the cost, but neither happened. Dr. Steven Goldstein, respected Houston neurologist and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative (www.houstonhealthcareinitiative.org) discussed the ramifications of the cancellation of financial penalties associated with ‘Obamacare’ among other things, on his weekly podcast. To hear the podcast go to https://houstonhealthcareinitiative.org/the-houston-healthcare-initiative-podcast/.

As the Trump administration has cancelled the fines assessed for not purchasing health insurance that were mandated by President Obama, the impact of the removal of these government-imposed purchases did nothing to lower the price of insurance or make the American public healthier. The positive effect of Obamacare on the price of insurance was what was promised, though little happened to make charges for insurance more affordable.

 

Time To Renew Your Health Insurance

It is the time of year for all of us to renew our existing health insurance or pick a provider. Open enrollment for the individual health insurance market starts November 1 and lasts through December 15, 2018. The sign-up time and role of the government in our health care begs the question; is access to healthcare a right or is it a privilege or something else? Should we also have the right to not purchase insurance? To help us sort through this we need someone well versed in medicine and health coverage and we find both in the founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative (HHI) Dr. Steven Goldstein.

 

Managing Prescription Medicine Costs

Prescription medicine is expensive, and in some cases unaffordable. The reasons for the high costs of some medicine are talked about by patients, physicians and politicians. But the reasons for high costs matter less than the reality that there are people who could get their medicine for a lot less money if they knew just a few things about how drugs are sourced and priced.  Here today to help us crack this code and hack drug prices is respected Houston based neurologist and founder of the Houston Healthcare Initiative Co-Op Dr. Steven Goldstein.

Most people have read or heard about how high the price of prescription medicine is here in the U.S. and how relatively inexpensive it is in other countries, especially Canada. What do the Canadians know? According to Dr. Goldstein, prices for drugs in Canada are set by a special review board that compares prices of medicine in Europeto then decide what to charge.  “Here in the U.S. Medicaid does not negotiate prices with the pharmaceutical companies and consequently the prices are higher,” Dr. Goldstein told his listeners.

 

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Press Background Houston Healthcare Initiative

The Houston Healthcare Initiative (HHI) is a member owned, non-profit medical co-op. Led by Houston based neurologist Dr. Steven Goldstein, the HHI will replace traditional health insurance for qualified individuals and families and provide incentives for members to adopt healthier lifestyle habits. HHI will provide affordable medical coverage through a combination of negotiated rates, low monthly payments, personal accountability and lifestyle incentives. The medical co-op promises to save qualifying individuals and families money on health insurance. At the same time, HHI will help uphold quality care by asking members to bear some responsibility and individual accountability for maintaining their personal health.

How Did HHI Come About?

While the promise of the Affordable Care Act was to lower the cost of health insurance, most Americans experience the opposite with much higher rates. The founder of HHI, Dr. Steven Goldstein, wanted to find a way to help patients and others find affordable health insurance and landed on the idea of the medical cooperative. The ‘medical cooperative’ or co-op as it is commonly known is possible because plans like HHI are exempt from the Obamacare tax penalties assessed to those who do not have health insurance.

What Are Health Care Co-Ops?

Consumer based cooperative purchasing arrangements are not new. The basis of the success of co-ops is they use the ability to buy large amounts on good terms. Health care cooperatives are much like other co-ops. For example, consumer cooperatives are owned by the people who buy the goods or use the services of the cooperative. But instead of electricity or milk, the medical co-op employs physicians, has access to negotiated hospital rates and prices and often own health care facilities.

How HHI Members Benefit

For a co-op to work as well as it might means that the cooperative health plan can obtain the lowest price charged to the most favored customer. For HHI, members benefit from Dr. Goldstein’s expertise and knowledge of how the hospital and pharmaceutical industries assess prices. At the same time, HHI members benefit from discounted rates with local health care providers. In the greater Houston area, health care providers, hospitals and others are able to push back their rates because HHI is in effect buying ‘in bulk’. It sounds odd and most people think of ‘Sams’ or ‘Costco’ when they think of bulk purchase, but there are discounts for large purchases of just about anything including healthcare.

The Health Care Commodity

Health care is not often thought of as a commodity, but in essence it is. It is definitely a business, but the normal laws of supply and demand do not always apply as the government regulations and insurance companies intercede and disqualify many free market concepts. It is only recently that health care has been thought of as a ‘right’ to which Americans are entitled. The public discussion and policies the government has implemented have not yielded better or more affordable medicine. Doctors are leaving their practices as large medical companies buy them out or because of the regulations imposed on them.  Dr. Goldstein has found a way to take the existing laws and build an acceptable alternative to traditional health insurance in the form of a non-profit organization owned by the members.

Details about qualifying for membership in HHI along with prices for coverage are available from the HHI web site at https://houstonhealthcareinitiative.org.