As I neared age 60, it was clear that I would have more money than I needed to live my simple lifestyle. I had always hoped to get involved in philanthropoy but the problem was finding a way to give back that could make a big difference in people's lives.
I had always been frustrated with charities who seemed to spend my donations on more mailings to me asking for more money rather than on their cause. It was also frustrating to know that a fair amount of my donations were going to pay those that work at the charity; especially when I would see the high salaries that some charity managers were collecting.
When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, my first reaction was not all positive. Among its failings was the fact that although the government provided large discounts on health insurance to those with low incomes, the insurance was still unaffordable to this group who struggle just to survive on their meager paychecks. But within this failing, I found what I was looking for; a way to be able donate money that would have a much larger impact than the amount of money that I was actually donating. Because the government was willing to pay for most of the cost of high quality (low deductible) health insurance plans for those with low incomes, someone could come in and provide assistance with paying the portion that the government didn't pay and provide low income uninsured working people access to health insurance plans worth thousands of dollars at a cost to them of from $0 to $40 per month. Additionally, I saw that this program concept could be offered to social service agencies in order to incentivize them to find the low income uninsured in their communities and get them insured; and while these people are enrolled in our program, we would be able educate them on the workings of health insurance and the free screenings and vaccines that come with their insurance policies. This program concept would also benefit the low income uninsured by shielding them from a completely unaffordable $695 per adult per year penalty that the Affordable Care Act attaches to those who do not have insurance. So this program concept can provide what can be life changing, or even life-saving, heath insurance for people, tackle the problem of lack of awareness of the ACA (its penalities and subsidies) and also provide health insurance education to those with little experience with health insurance.
This concept excited me and I thought that there must be others, like me, who would like the opportunity to make a big difference in people's lives with a relatively small amount of money and who don't like that most charities commit only a percentage of their donations to their actual cause. Here was a chance to create the kind of charity that I had always wanted to find. And to make it even more donor friendly, I wanted to offer a 100% match plus offer a charity that has no overhead or paid staff so that 100% of donations plus 100% of the match would go directly to those in need.
Tom Berkowitz MDHIP Volunteer Administrator