(This 2 part post was written by a good friend who worked in a missionary agency, helping missionaries make decision about their health insurance coverage. While some details apply primarily to missionaries, most of the principles can be applied to our lives regardless of location. In a sense, we are all missionaries and should consider our health insurance in terms of God’s wisdom. I hope you benefit from this post. If you know a missionary, consider sharing it with them.)
What does the fine print say?
As the saying goes, the devil is in the details. That statement applies well to insurance. I won’t name names, but there are companies in the international market with incredibly low premiums. What they don’t advertise quite so obviously is that their annual maximum benefit is $2,000. As we all know, it doesn’t take much to generate a $2,000 claim and is fairly easy to generate claims many times that maximum.
The lesson here is to read the fine print. If you do not understand a certain term, ask about it. Know what the annual and lifetime maximum coverages are for the plans you are reviewing. Ask questions about their networks and the method of claim payment. In sum, know what you are signing up for. Insurance proposals are not a document to be skimmed.
May I propose to you the primary value of quality health insurance coverage is not in the small, routine medical situations is covers but rather the unforeseen chronic or life altering medical events that, should you not have the proper coverage, might bankrupt you, leave you in significant debt and/or take you off the field altogether. As a missionary now myself, I understand the financial pressures of living on support, the temptation to trade a lower premium for lower quality coverage, especially when you are currently healthy. However, I encourage each missionary out there to take a hard, critical look at the options presented to them. Fight the temptation to become too premium-driven when making your insurance decisions. I know this is easier said than done if you are fighting to find the money to pay for groceries each month. If you are under extreme financial pressure, consider that it might be wise to put some effort toward raising additional support. You don’t want to switch to a low quality insurance that makes the financial pressure many times worse should someone in your family have an accident or illness. Pray and ask God for His wisdom as you face these difficult decisions. He delights in giving you wisdom. James 1:5 encourages us in this way, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.”
No one who understands the life of a missionary pretends these are easy, simple challenges. My goal is not to tell you that you should only sign up for expensive group plans. My encouragement to you is to arm yourself with knowledge. The evaluation process may be more complex and consequential than you at first realized. This decision may have more far-reaching implications than you knew. Invite God into this process, just as you would anything else. He alone knows what lies ahead of you and He knows what decisions you need to make now to prepare you for the road ahead.
There is no one-size-fits-all answer to these questions. He often leads His children to make financial decisions that don’t seem to make logical sense. Heavenly wisdom often looks much different than worldly wisdom and we trust God to give us the ability to discern between the two. My desire is to see missionaries make Spirit-led, educated decisions. It breaks my heart to see families make wrong choices simply because they didn’t understand what was at stake, until it was too late.
Finally, I would also encourage you to fear not! Ask and believe that God will give you faith for whatever road He is calling you to take. He cares about these details of your life and He is more intimately acquainted with what you need than you are. Be encouraged by Matthew 6:25-27
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?…”
Pray, seek God, take ownership of educating your about these matters and trust that He will lead as a good Father…the best Father…just as He has in every other area of your life. May something as mundane as an insurance decision be a vehicle through which He draws you even closer to Himself.