SPOTLIGHT: Brad Hahn, Founder, Solidarity HealthShare

About Brad Hahn

Bradley Hahn is a deeply committed Catholic who helped found Solidarity HealthShare as a means for Catholic Americans to have an ethical and affordable way to pay for medical care costs. Bradley is a Phoenix-based attorney who regularly consults on end-of-life issues as they relate to Catholic social doctrine. He assists in a variety of Arizona Catholic charities, including the Catholic Community Foundation for the Diocese of Phoenix. He speaks at churches and conferences throughout the U.S. on religious liberty, conscience issues as they relate to health care, and other bioethical decision-making issues important to the Catholic faith. Bradley is a member of the Arizona State Bar, the Canon Law Society of America, the Catholic Medical Association, and is an Allied Attorney for the Alliance Defending Freedom.

 

Bradley received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Arizona and his Juris Doctorate from Gonzaga University School of Law. He has also received a certification in bioethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center. He is a veteran of the U.S. Air Force as well as the Arizona and Washington Air National Guard. He is an active member in the ministries of St. Timothy Catholic Church in Mesa, Arizona, where he has previously served as Chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council and is a member of the Knights of Columbus. He is also a Canon Law Advocate in the Diocese of Phoenix Tribunal for Marriage Nullity Cases. Bradley is married with two children and currently in private practice in Arizona.

 

About Solidarity HealthShare

Solidarity HealthShare seeks to restore and rebuild an authentic Catholic health care system that will, in every way, respect and promote the Church’s teachings and traditions with regard to love, responsibility and the sanctity of all human life while endeavoring to share the eligible medical expenses of our members.
Solidarity HealthShare is focused on encouraging transparent pricing in the marketplace and using referenced based pricing to lower medical costs for America’s families. Solidarity HealthShare facilitates the sharing of medical needs among its members and saves families money while ensuring that their health care dollars are not spent paying for things that are morally objectionable.

 

U.S. Domestic Medical Travel (USDMT):Tell us how you got started with this organization and the ideology of Solidarity HS.

Brad Hahn (BH):  A few years back, almost five years ago now, some Catholic business leaders in Phoenix approached me and asked how we were going to solve the problems of the Affordable Care Act – specifically, the federal government forcing Americans to buy insurance and pay for things we find morally objectionable like contraception, abortion, abortion inducing drugs, sexual reassignment surgery, sterilization and such.

What do we need to do about this?

My background has always been in religious conscience protection and on end-of-life issues.  So, when we looked at the current models, we tried to find a solution.

We stumbled across medical cost sharing ministries.  After interviewing the four major ones, we realized that they didn’t line up with the morals and ethical values of the teachings of the Catholic Church.

We decided to start our own ministry.

USDMT:  How many people are now in your group and where do they live?

BH:  We are approaching 10,000 individuals or lives and they live in every state.

We have about 4,000 families right now called member households.

USDMT:  How do these members hear about you? 

BH:They hear through the Church and we support a lot of Catholic radio initiatives.

I am on Catholic radio a lot, and the word is just spreading around from organizations through the Diocese and from Catholic media sources.

USDMT:  Explain how people get involved and start their coverage.

BH:  The first step is that they usually go to our website at www.solidarityhealthshare.organd start learning about medical cost sharing and how it works.

And the number one reason people call us is because of the conscience issues.

They simply don’t want to participate in an insurance system that forces them to violate their conscience.  So, we talk about conscience issues with everybody that calls in because they bring it up.

The second issue that people look at is the cost savings.

I’ll give you an example.  For my family of four, we were paying over $2000 a month for traditional health insurance with a $6,000 deductible.  Now my family of four pays $449 per month with an annual out of pocket cost of $1500 per year.

The reason we can deliver a conscience-protected product coupled with tremendous cost savings is the leadership team and the people who work for Solidarity Healthcare.

We do two things:

First of all, we vet pretty much every single bill that our member gets to make sure it is fair and reasonably priced.  There is no over-billing or out-of-pocket expense for our members.

If there is, we usually get discounts for this.

I’ll give you an example:  we had a member who had a heart attack and thanks be to God that he is doing well today. But his emergency room medical bills were $174,000.  We took that bill, itemized it and actually paid more than what they would have been paid from Medicare.  We offered $17,000 and they accepted it. 

The second thing Solidarity does is to submit that bill for “Sharing” among our community.  A bunch of different members joined in to make sure that the medical bill was paid, and we helped to facilitate that through our technology.

USDMT:  So the member joins and they are assessed a certain amount?  How is it determined how much they have to pay?

BH:  We have three different programs.

  1. The most comprehensive program like the one my family is on. We pay $449 per month and are responsible for the first $1500 of medical costs that pays up to one hundred million dollars per incident per year.
  2. If a couple wants that same arrangement, they can pay $299 per month with a $1000 annual out-of-pocket cost amount.
  3. A single can pay $199 per month with a $500 out of pocket annual insured amount.

It is very cost effective, but the key to all of this — and why it works and how it works – is because it is based upon Christian principles of coming together to form a community, share one another’s financial and spiritual burdens, and have our members actively help us and participate in a gauged payer system.

Our members know exactly how much they are paying and they are very protective of that, too.

For example, when my son got kicked in the calf while playing basketball, he had to do some physical therapy.  My wife visited the Physical Therapist who said our son would need about 12 visits.  The best price would be $80 per visit and my wife said, “Done!”

She presented the Solidarity Healthcare card for billing – and they billed Solidarity $320 per visit.

So, my wife called them back and reminded them that they had agreed to $80 per visit.  In response, they said they thought Solidarity was health insurance — and overbilled to see what would stick.

My wife insisted that they charge the $80 rate as they had promised, with the explanation that our family belongs to a medical cost sharing ministry called Solidarity.

“I have to protect these members by making sure you are not over billing us for thousands of dollars,” she said.  “That money could be available for somebody who really needs it.”

USDMT:  So you don’t have any reinsurance for catastrophic illness? How does it work if somebody needs a liver transplant or needs extensive cancer treatment?

BH:  Well we work on the same model.

We just had a member who had a heart issue and he is actually a Bishop in the Church from Cuba who comes to Florida a few times a year.

While he was here, he developed a heart condition which had been building a for a long period of time.  He required cardiac surgery and a pacemaker.

The hospital tried to bill Solidarity about $600,000 for this care. So we went in and negotiated — and got it down to about $85,000.

This illustrates part of the crisis that we have in healthcare right now – everything is overpriced and over billed.

As an example, there were over $4.8M in medical expenses to Solidarity Health Share last year, and we got about a 60 percent discount on those medical bills on behalf of our members.

USDMT: Retrospectively?

BH:  Yes.

USDMT:  Are there designated facilities or providers, or can members go to whoever they choose?

BH:  Exactly right.

Since our members are self-paying or cash paying patients, they get to decide which doctor or provider they want to go to.

That’s a big plus for many people because many of our members want to find like-minded doctors that share in the Christian beliefs, understand the Christian value of what the person is about and respect human dignity.

Members can go out and try to the find the best providers to help their family.

USDMT:  Do people ever travel outside the US for care? 

BH:  As of now, we haven’t had a member travel cross border, but we would do that.

We did have a member that was vacationing in Mexico and had to have his appendix removed.

USDMT:  Where in Mexico?

BH:  I don’t remember where in Mexico, but what we had to do make sure that the bills that were submitted to Solidarity were translated into English.  Then we were able to pay that medical bill to the hospital down in Mexico.

USDMT:  Would there be opportunity for cross border hospitals to serve your members?

BH:  We do have a list of preferred providers – where a hospital or provider has said that they really want to work with Solidarity’s members. They request to be included on our recommended provider list, and if they meet our criteria, we add them to the list.

When somebody calls in and says they live in a certain area of the country and need to have a procedure done, they ask for a recommendation from Solidarity.

We could go to our list and make a recommendation — whether it is in or out of the country.  There is no distinction as far as we are concerned, and we would pay for medical expenses outside of this country.

USDMT:  Do you ever get hit with any high cost specialty pharmacy drugs? 

BH:  Yes, we do. We resolve that issue in two ways:

  1. We are going to be unrolling a discount pharmaceutical membership program for our members in the next two months, or we can get the best cash price on Rx drugs 90 percent of the time.
  2. Through the relationships we are building now for the time we don’t get the discount, we are developing relationships with the drug vendors and the pharmaceutical companies themselves to help negotiate fair pricing for our membership.

USDMT: Do you get any feedback from the providers?  Do they bark at what you are doing?  Are they happy?

BH:Most of the providers are very gracious and happy to be working with Solidarity.  They don’t have to play that overbilling to see what sticks.

We contract with providers so that our members can access services, and we reimburse providers a certain percentage above Medicare.

They all appreciate not having to play these overbilling games.

Once an ineligible bill comes in, we are going to still vet it to make sure the provider honors the contract.  Then we will submit that bill to our membership for sharing, and a check should be issued to that provider – usually within 30 days.

We are saving a lot of providers a lot of money in overhead because they don’t have to have key people assigned to negotiate with insurance companies.

USDMT: Does it matter how old the member is or if he/she is on Medicare or Medicaid? 

BH:Medical cost sharing works even if the individual is receiving Medicare.

Of course, in the US if you want your Social Security check, you have to sign up for Medicare.

You can use Solidarity as a supplement to your Medicare policy — and that’s common.

A lot of people become Solidarity members up to the time when they are eligible for Medicare.  At that point, they just switch and turn it into a supplemental program with us.

USDMT:  Like a regular supplemental program to Medicare? 

BH:  Yes.

USDMT:  Do you have to be Catholic to join the program?

BH:  No, you don’t.  That is what is so refreshing to our non-Catholic brothers and sisters.  When they look at Solidarity, they really see that the Catholic Church has such a rich history of moral and ethical healthcare.

This not only dates back from the earliest days of this country, but also reflects the moral reasons dating back to Thomas Aquinas.

Our member guidelines are very well defined and very clear when it comes to moral teachings.  That’s part of our job as Catholics in this organization:  to help evangelize and bring Christ back into healthcare and to make sure everyone respects the human dignity.

It’s been a beautiful journey and believe me, as an attorney, I was the most skeptical about these arrangements.  After I started investigating it, researching it and looking at how the model works, I fell in love with it.

And that’s why I’m grateful that the business leaders asked me to lead the organization.  I’m very proud and privileged to lead it.

 

 

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