Like health insurance, but less sure

January 3, 2020

The Hustle

Happy Friday. Health care — and how to pay for it — was a hot button issue in 2019. And with the election around the corner, it’s sure to stay that way. There may be no easy fix, but there’s gotta be a better solution than an unregulated industry of pseudo-insurance… right? Today:

  • Health sharing companies are becoming a new kind of pain
  • New art from the 1920s entered the public domain
  • U-Haul gave cigarette smokers a reason to complain

Now go have yourself a healthy day.

The Hustle Daily Email

Health care ‘cost sharing’ companies, which don’t guarantee coverage, are on the rise

More than 1m people have joined alternative health care “cost sharing” associations, which offer lower premiums than traditional health insurers — but no guarantees they will actually provide coverage.

These nonprofit organizations, typically affiliated with religious groups, are growing due to demand from desperate consumers. But, as the NYT reports, several US states are now working to ban them entirely, alleging they mislead consumers.

So, how do they work?

These organizations are created to enable people with shared religious beliefs to share health care costs, and they are allowed to exist under federal law mostly because of a religious exemption.

  • Like health insurers, these companies collect monthly payments from their members to provide coverage for eventual medical bills. 
  • But unlike health insurers, they are under no obligation to pay out medical claims.

These associations typically decline to cover people with preexisting illnesses, and they can refuse to cover certain illnesses (like mental health) at their choosing. They can also set limits on how much they will pay out.

But people keep choosing these plans because they’re desperate

These plans are often far cheaper than traditional health care plans that are required to provide coverage for preexisting conditions under the Affordable Care Act, making them an attractive option.

Several of these companies are huge:

  • Samaritan Ministries, based in Illinois, has 271k members
  • Medi-Share, based in Florida, has 400k+ members

According to estimates, there are ~400 of these medical-sharing ministries.

But members of some of these networks end up saddled with bills exceeding $100k.

And some states believe that this type of sharing is NOT caring

Since these companies don’t technically offer insurance, they’re not bound by federal oversight. But regulators in some states have begun fighting back.

Last week, Washington state fined health sharing provider Trinity Healthshare $150k for operating as an unauthorized insurer — and banned it from operating in the state. Trinity also stopped operating in Texas after being named in a lawsuit there.

Despite opposition, these companies are still growing, thanks in part to aggressive marketing techniques. In the past 9 years, membership in health care sharing ministries has increased 600%.

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This week’s weirdest ways to spend money

Stock market treat you well last year? Maybe it’s time to invest some of those hard-earned dollars in something different.

Here are a few of the most creative ways to spend money that we came across this week:

  • 9 ½ foot remote-controlled bald eagle, $499.95. Are you looking for another way to show the world you’re a red-blooded American patriot? Well, let us tell you: The eagle has landed. And by eagle, we’re talking about this peerless propeller-powered remote-controlled bald eagle, of course.
  • “Most realistic” racing simulator, $185k. If you’re the kind of 36-year-old who’s constantly frustrated by how little time you spend at video game arcades, this ultra-realistic car racing simulator is exactly what you need — even if costs only slightly less than an actual race car. 
  • Formula 1 Speaker dock, $8.5k. Speaking of race cars, this Formula 1 speaker dock — which is made out of a retired 8-cylinder F1 racecar engine of your choosing and crafted in Modena, Italy — is an absolute must-have.
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Sick of underwhelming resolutions? Switch things up with a RESTolution

That’s right, a RESTolution

No, we didn’t drink too much champagne. We just had a thought… Instead of telling ourselves we’ll eat better or work out 6 times a day (like every other year), we should start with something simpler — and more important: Fixing our sleep. 

As it turns out, sleep is the number one way to make a positive change. So this year, forget a resolution… you need a RESTolution.

Improve your sleep — and performance — with WHOOP

You know that amazing feeling you have when you get a full 8 hours of sleep? Well, WHOOP can help you achieve it. 

WHOOP is a performance and recovery tool that can help you get more, higher-quality sleep through actionable feedback.  

What you do during the day impacts how you sleep at night. That means stress, strain, and lifestyle choices can lead to an unhealthy sleep cycle — and that keeps us up at night.

Pick up a WHOOP Fitness Tracker and start your RESTolution

Each day, WHOOP gives you real-time feedback on your recovery, strain, and sleep metrics to help you make better lifestyle choices.

No, that doesn’t mean counting steps or obsessing over calories. The WHOOP algorithm is constantly analyzing the true indicators of your body’s wellness — things like resting heart rate, heart rate variability, and overall quality of sleep. It’s why WHOOP is spotted on wrists from the NBA to the NASDAQ.

We’ll leave you with this fact…

80% of new year’s resolutions fail. That’s not great.

Our point? If you want to improve performance in all areas of your life, whether it’s at the gym, at work, or beyond, tackle your sleep first and everything else will follow. Check out and commit to a RESTolution today. 

New year, better sleep →

Happy (belated) Public Domain day!

For the first time in 95 years, it’s finally legal to remix George Gershwin’s “Fascinating Rhythm.” The song entered the public domain earlier this week alongside other famous written and recorded work from the 1920s. 

Most of these works were supposed to become available for unrestricted use in 2000. But after Congress extended their copyright protection for an extra 20 years, they continued gathering figurative dust… until this week.

Here are some other famous works that became available:

  • The Man in the Brown Suit, the book by Agatha Christie
  • A Passage to India, the book by E. M. Forster
  • Old New York, the book by Edith Wharton
  • The Gift of Black Folk, the book by W. E. B. Du Bois
  • Rhapsody in Blue, the song by George Gershwin
  • Lazy, the song by Irving Berlin
  • The first film adaptation of Peter Pan

What’s in it for you? Besides the rights to remix a famous song, you could find ways to turn a profit on those creative properties.

Need a guide? Check out this Trends piece about one company that created a niche market for young people who want fancy Bibles.

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What Else…

🎮 Everyone’s playin’ games. Or, at least, a lot of people are spending money on them. According to Nielsen data, video games spawned $109.4B in revenue in 2019, a 3% increase from 2018.

🐖 The pig-pocalypse is nigh. A quarter of the world’s pigs died last year, the NYT reports. What caused this mass swine decline? A widespread swine fever caused the pig population in China to drop by 40% in 2018-19.

🍎 Apple found another way to spend money on content. Apple hired Richard Plepler, HBO’s former chief executive, to make exclusive TV shows, documentaries, and movies for Apple TV Plus. Apple has already committed a reported $6B to create its original lineup for Apple TV Plus.

🚭 Smokers just got burned by U-Haul. The moving truck rental company announced in a statement earlier this week that it would no longer hire nicotine users in 21 states (the remaining 29 states have “smoker protection laws”). The move, which U-Haul said will help “to establish one of the healthiest corporate cultures in the US and Canada,” was criticized widely for being heavy-handed.

Shower Thoughts
  1. Baby Yoda’s first word probably came after his second word./li>
  2. No British King has ever used the internet.
  3. Sneezing is really weird. Your nose briefly transforms into a cannon that launches snot at the speed of a sports car, then you go about your business as if you hadn’t just had your face weaponized.
  4. If scratch off lottery tickets would cost 99 cents instead of 1 dollar people would have 1 cent to scratch it off.
  5. We only say “Hey stranger” to people we know.
  6. via Reddit

New Year, New Thoughts! Hit us with your 2020 shower thoughts here.
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