In this episode, I am speaking with James Maskell – author of The Evolution Of Medicine, and founder of KNEW Health. We will talk about the scary truth about the health insurance system and how you can save hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars a month by using a more affordable insurance alternative.
I know insurance is not a fun or sexy topic (not like the awesome geeky health science we usually talk about), but here’s why this is so exciting: It’s a game-changer for your financial situation…
Get this: I am literally saving $1,800/month as a result of the information in this podcast (compared to my previous health insurance, for my family of four). Yes, really. So perhaps that’s enough to make you want to listen in. (You can use this free calculator to see exactly how much you can save each month: Free Savings Calculator)
- The Scary Truth About The Health Insurance System and How To Get A Far Cheaper (and Hidden) Insurance Alternative that Can Save You $500-$2,000 Each Month (with James Maskell) – Transcript
- The health insurance scam
- Why health insurance is a “pre-paid drug plan”
- The difference between health insurance and out of pocket payments
- KNEW Health – an alternative to health insurance
- Why the modern health care system is fixed and works perfectly well
- The importance of taking charge of your own health
- The Scary Truth About The Health Insurance System and How To Get A Far Cheaper (and Hidden) Insurance Alternative that Can Save You $500-$2,000 Each Month (with James Maskell) – Show Notes
In this podcast, James will cover:
- The mind-blowing truth about health insurance in the U.S. (And why your costs are so high)
- Why health insurance is a pre-paid drug plan
- How insurance companies know how much to charge you while still making a profit
- Why the modern healthcare system works the way it does
- What is KNEW Health and medical cost-sharing? What are the pros/cons vs. insurance
- The importance of taking ownership of your own health
- How you can calculate your personal savings on health insurance (And see exactly how to save hundreds or thousands a month)
Click here for the Savings Calculator and see exactly how much money you can save each month.
Want to join KNEW Health? Click here to sign up! James has gifted my community with a discount, you will save $300 off the annual membership fee (making it $0) through October 31st 2019! Sign up today!
If you want to learn more about KNEW Health and what they do, check out their Savings Guide and FAQ.
Download or listen on iTunes
Listen outside iTunes
The Scary Truth About The Health Insurance System and How To Get A Far Cheaper (and Hidden) Insurance Alternative that Can Save You $500-$2,000 Each Month (with James Maskell) – Transcript
Ari Whitten: Hey there, this is Ari Whitten and welcome to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. And if you live in the US, today’s podcast is an absolute MUST-LISTEN and it’s going to blow your mind.
What’s the subject of today’s podcast…. health insurance! Health insurance — not a really sexy topic, right?
Well, what if I told you that you could SAVE literally $500-$2,000 a month by learning about what’s in this podcast? Is it sexy now?
You’re about to get some insider secrets of the health insurance industry that may just blow your mind.
I didn’t know about this entire subject that this podcast is about until just a few months ago when I started looking into it. After I recorded this interview, I actually got rid of my previous health insurance policy and bought in. And I am not exaggerating, but get this, on my family insurance plan (which I was paying over $2,200 a month for, now I am paying just $453/month — for my ENTIRE FAMILY!
Yes, I am not kidding. This is 100% REAL.
You might be wondering…how is this possible? Is it legal? Is this legitimate?
The answer is yes, yes, and yes.
This may be one of the most important podcasts you ever listened to, and may literally be a massive game changer for your financial situation.
Listen in, and enjoy this critically important conversation from James Maskell… And prepare to be kicking yourself for not learning about this sooner.
Okay, with all that said… listen to this episode and prepare to have your mind blown about the insurance industry and what you can do instead…
Hey everyone, welcome back to The Energy Blueprint Podcast. I’m your host Ari Whitten. And today I have with me James Maskell, who’s the author of The Evolution of Medicine, the founder of the Functional Forum, the world’s largest integrative medicine conference, and he’s also the founder of KNEW Health—that’s K-N-E-W Health—which is an affordable alternative to health insurance for health-conscious Americans. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about all of those things in and out, but I really want to focus on insurance. And this is not at all a sexy conversation, but James makes this conversation sexy because there’s a lot of good stuff we’re going to get into. Even though this topic of health insurance may sound boring, trust me, you are definitely going to want to listen to this. So, James, welcome to the show. Such a pleasure to have you.
James Maskell: Hey, great, Ari, thanks for having me. Excited to be here and connecting with your audience.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, you ready to make insurance sexy?
The health insurance scam
James Maskell: That’s the first time that that’s been promised at the front of a podcast, so I’ll see what I can do. I did do my hair before the session, so we’ll see what I can do.
Ari Whitten: Nice. So, let’s first just talk about why you’re doing this whole stuff: why you’re doing what you’re doing with health insurance, why does it matter; and specifically, I want to bring up something I’ve heard you talk about in another interview, which is a bold statement and I think is a nice way to start this whole conversation: you’ve referred to health insurance as a scam. Why is that?
James Maskell: Let’s start at the beginning of why I’m even doing this. So I was the weird kid at school that grew up in natural health; that was just the way that things were set up. I was the only kid in school whose parents insisted—my mother insisted that the nurse call her before I be given antibiotics. So, somehow, my mother sort of pre-guessed that there was going to be a downside to antibiotics used in the 80s.
And I’d always just start with me like, how did my mom know? And especially as I started seeing research coming out like, “Hey, we’re overusing antibiotics,” there’s some downside to it. I was like, hang on a minute. This was what I was learning when I was nine. I had a chiropractic growing up, I saw a homeopath, I really didn’t have regular healthcare and I just thought that was normal until I got to school and realized that was very abnormal. And then I had a rebellious phase, I thought my parents were insane; I went down the route, I got a degree in economics—I focused actually on health economics, and I saw then we’re heading over a big cliff. Not just America— America’s like the worst example of price costs going up and results going down—and so I knew that that was a big problem. I knew that other countries were following America and were therefore likely to follow the same pattern. And I just had a moment of clarity when I was working my first job in London, age 24, and I was like, either I’m like this investment banker guy with a weird history where I grew up in a community and I did natural health, or maybe, the weird way that I grew up is a solution to one of these really vexing problems.
And I decided to go all in on working out whether the latter was true. So I moved here 15 years ago, I worked in a clinic, I saw people reversing their chronic illness; I served integrative and functional doctors selling to them, I saw just the breadth and scope of what kind of practitioners were doing what to reverse chronic illness that I didn’t—that most people don’t know was possible. And in 2013, my partner and I basically set out our blueprint for transforming healthcare worldwide. And the first thing we wanted to do was to educate doctors on a way to reverse chronic illness. You talk about this on your podcast or through your platform, like, still, most people don’t know that this is possible, but lifestyle-driven disease needs a lifestyle-first approach. And so we started off with that.
Let’s focus on one small community. So we built this thing, the Functional Forum, and we built the world’s largest integrative medicine conference. We helped doctors move and practice this type of medicine. But really, why I got involved with insurance is, I just realized, one) what insurance company you have and the kind of care that you choose has a massive effect on what kind of providers you see. And most of these providers that we’d be working with for the last 15 years, but really the last six, are not taking insurance. So if you have insurance and your only way of interacting with healthcare is to use the people that are insurance-billable, you have no access to a kind of cad that can reverse your chronic illness. And second) I saw that, in England, where I grew up, if you want to change healthcare, you pretty much have to make a deal with the government because they have the NHS.
Whereas in America today, everyone is so overpaying for stuff they don’t use in their health insurance—generally in our community—I just felt, here’s the opportunity to really just try something and to have an opening to really build something that’s better and cheaper. And so that was the sort of beginning part of it. But ultimately, the whole thing has evolved as each next step is being successful in our journey. We’ve just had a bigger view of what we thought was possible. And starting our own alternative to health insurance was really only possible off the back of building this network of doctors, seeing the problem, seeing potential solutions, and working it out as we went along.
Ari Whitten: So there’s two aspects to this: one is the sick-care system that the healthcare system has. It’s really a sick-care system. I want to dig into that. And then there’s this other aspect, which is: the insurance question. Now they’re obviously intertwined to a large degree, but let’s just treat them as separate for the time being, and then we’ll kind of connect the dots as we get into it. But, where does insurance tie in to everything that you just explained?
James Maskell: So we all have a good idea of what the word “insurance” means. So if you have a car or home insurance, you know that in the statistically insignificant chance that you have some sort of disaster, this third-party company that you contract with is contracted to give you money back for the premiums that you’ve paid to ensure your risk. That’s how insurance works. That’s what insurance is. Health insurance started out that way. But then over the last 40 years, as lobbyists got involved and as this sort of like “crony capitalism” at the backend of everything, suddenly all of these drugs were now on insurance and available on insurance. And the standard of care was to give everyone a ton of drugs that are all covered by your insurance, and therefore you have a completely drug-based approach where all chronic disease reinforced into the system.
You have, basically, health insurance moving from a classic insurance product, to actually a health plan, which is actually a prepaid drug plan, ultimately. And that those people in society who have chosen to take their lifestyle seriously, to be healthy, and someone who listens to your podcast and is active in your programs—the chances of them getting a lifestyle-driven chronic disease is so much smaller than the average person in the population. I just realized the incentives are way off, and it’s a big problem. And to address your conversation about the scam: in other countries, insurance plays this role where they constrain costs by not paying for things and encouraging people to be healthy. Like in South Africa, my dad has a thing that when he goes to the gym, every time he goes, his insurance premium goes down a little bit.
They don’t have anything like that here. Why? Because when the ACA was set up—the Affordable Care Act—they essentially changed the system so that insurers could only make a fixed percentage of revenue as 20%. So then you get into a situation where now everyone in healthcare, Pharma, hospitals, and insurance, all incentivized to raise the costs because 20% of $1,000 a month is way better than 20% of $100 a month. So that’s the beginning of the scam. Then you start to see, if you are paying attention at all, you start to see that, oh, when people actually see the cost of everything in the healthcare, the numbers are ridiculous, like astronomically higher than they should be. Lab tests is the most obvious and egregious one to me because you can see, okay, this same lab test that’s being done in the same lab by the same people could cost $300 if you claim it on your insurance and you haven’t met your deductible, you pay the whole amount,
Whereas you could have gone directly to the lab and have that same lab for 10 bucks. A 95% saving, 98% saving. That is not uncommon. That is happening every day throughout the system and then you see things like where they’ll say, “Oh, our hospital has ‘negotiated’ special rates with a insurance company.” You think, oh, they’ve got a lot of volume, they must be able to negotiate these rates down—I’m getting a better deal. But then you see the bill and it’s like, this thing was 70 grand and I just broke my arm. Like, who’s negotiating this? Because it doesn’t seem like they’re doing a good job. And what you find out is they’re negotiating everything upwards, not backwards. It’s because everyone’s in on the scam, and it’s the most powerful scam in human history—it’s certainly the most lucrative.
$3.8 trillion industry and growing. So, ultimately, in the context of that, no wonder natural health hasn’t taken off. No wonder it hasn’t been brought into the system because, ultimately, no one’s incentivized to get people off medication, keep people healthy—and, the people that get the most value from a health plan are the people that are the sickest. And, ultimately, incentives matter. Whatever you say, incentives matter. And so our multi-year plan to transform healthcare, including—it might have to include having a different way to take care of your health risk. And so that’s how we kind of got involved in this area.
Why health insurance is a “pre-paid drug plan”
Ari Whitten: Yeah. There was one thing you said there that I want you to elaborate on, which is, that “insurance is a prepaid drug plan.” I think this is such an important point and I really want you to explain this to people so they can go and get this.
James Maskell: Yeah, so, if you’re an average citizen and you have a 1:2 chance of getting Type 2 diabetes and a 1:3 chance of getting cancer, basically they have to put into your premium in order to make the maths work and still make numbers, it’d be like, okay, what is the lifetime cost of Type 2 diabetes care? Oh, it’s like, I don’t know, a million bucks. So—and you’ve got a 1:2 chance of getting it—we’ve got to layer in those costs into your plan because you’ve got a 1:2 chance of getting type two diabetes, 1:3 chance of getting cancer. What does that cost? We’ve got to layer it in because if 1:2, 1:3 people are getting it and they’ve got to pay for it, we’ve got to make sure that you’re subsidizing that plan.
And so ultimately, multiply every weird chronic disease by the lifetime costs of caring for that disease, and ultimately you see that’s why these numbers are so staggeringly high. And especially for some drugs that didn’t exist 10 years ago and have questionable benefit and are unbelievably expensive, like, let’s say, all the autoimmune biologicals. And so when I realized that, I was like, hey, for people who—probably yourself and myself, Ari—it’s not the first port of call if I was to have any kind of symptoms to go to drugs apart, from an a very small set of acute instances, we probably think, okay, let’s start with the most—at least invasive—most cost-effective tools first and then work our way out to drugs if we need it, or surgery—but don’t start with that. It’s a sensible way of thinking; anyone who’s paying attention is thinking like that. I wanted to create a program for people who thought like that. And ultimately, I want to create an awesome community where we can transform the culture in that community and make it aspirational for other people to be like, “Hey, I want to be healthy enough so I can be in Ari and James’ awesome community.” And that’s really the structure and the sort of thinking behind it.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Now, one aspect of this I want to emphasize is: the insurance companies are private companies that are for-profit companies, and they’re not just setting these numbers arbitrarily as far as what they’re charging people. They know, as you said, the statistics on the likelihood of getting various chronic diseases—these statistics are known because scientists have actually researched them. They also know exact numbers as far as the costs of these things. And then they are subsequently basically charging people an amount to make sure that they can cover all of their predicted expenses plus still turn a profit at the end of the day. Is that accurate?
James Maskell: 100% accurate, and they got more statisticians and adjusters and whatever than meets the eye. I mean, ultimately, this is a very sophisticated business. You can see in the national news now there’s questions as to what insurance companies actually do. Like, where are they actually adding value into the system? And I agree. Like, I think they don’t add that much value and that’s part of the reason why we are looking for a different way.
The difference between health insurance and out of pocket payments
Ari Whitten: So, why not just—I mean, at the end of the day, let’s just say, the amount that you will ultimately pay for your care for various chronic diseases is covered. Either way, whether you had this insurance and you prepaid everything in advance via this insurance policy—probably plus a little extra or maybe a lot extra—versus not having any insurance and just waiting until you got the disease and then just covering your expenses out of pocket—how would those two scenarios look different?
James Maskell: Well, let’s just explain. So, an average family—let’s say you’re a average family in America and you work for yourself, so you’re actually facing the full cost of health insurance. Because most people don’t have a good idea of what the health insurance costs because the company is paying like 80% of it. So they think they’re paying $400 a month when they’re actually paying $2200 a month, it’s just the company’s paying most of it. So if you’re self-employed, self-insured, you know exactly what I’m talking about. So the average cost for a family like me, $2200 per month, $28,000 a year, something like that. So if I decide not to pay it—no, not to have insurance, yes, I’m saving 25 grand a month—I mean, 25 grand a year. But like if some issue comes along, depends what it is—If it’s cancer, that’ll be one thing. If you get hit by a car, be another thing. Chances are, maybe nothing happens to you. But the reason why insurance exists is because we wanted a way—society wanted a way to take care of that downside risk and to make sure that you didn’t have a catastrophic loss. And so ultimately insurance has really been the only vehicle available to that, until this little interesting thing starts to happen in the 1980s in America. This is the most American invention of all time, it’s awesome. So, in the 1980s, these huge churches started to realize that they had enough people in that community to balance out the risk of anyone in the community getting hurt. So they have, basically, an agreement amongst the people in the church like, “Hey, we’ve got 10,000 people right now all on Blue Cross Blue Shield.
What if we all just left Blue Cross Blue Shield, and if anyone get hit by a car and—let’s say there’s 10,000 of us—and Johnny Smith gets hit by a car and it costs 10 grand, first of all, we’ll have a lawyer that will call up and make sure that we’re not paying the stupid rates—and we’re getting the lowest possible rate. We’ll pay in cash, but everyone will just send Johnny a dollar. So it costs 10 grand, that’s 10,000 people, just send them a dollar—and literally, that’s how some of these things still work like this. Like, where you’re literally sending money or checks in the mail, and this idea—so it took off, and in 2010, about 160,000 Americans were using this thing called Medical Cost Sharing. And then what happened is when the ACA came in—the Affordable Care Act—2010, those five organizations were given an exemption to the individual mandate, which meant that you could avoid the tax penalty for not having insurance by being in one of these ministries.
And it just took off because suddenly people were facing $1000 a month or $400 a month. In my case, when I had my daughter and I actually had to get health insurance for the first time— because up until then I lived in America for eight years without health insurance because I was just starting my business; I knew all these epic doctors from the work that I was doing, anyway. I also grew up in England—if you could tell from my voice—so like, I realized like if I got cancer, I could fly back to England and just dump it on the NHS, but that was just a unique thing for me—I have my daughter, and my mother-in-law’s like, “You gotta get health insurance.” So we joined one of these ministries because it was $449 a month, compared to $2100 a month
So I was saving 1500 bucks a month, $18,000 a year. My pediatrician that I saw didn’t take insurance and is amazing, and I would never want any other pediatrician, but he took cash and we paid in cash. We want to talk about home birth—insurance wouldn’t pay for the home birth. We paid cash and we paid for that whole service, too. So we were empowered; we went through this process and it worked great for us. But what we saw is just that, yeah, a million people use this now and it’s great, but ultimately, we think that this actually might be a better way of people taking care of that risk. And the main reason is here, Ari, like—I know if you’ve had all kinds of guests on your show. A theme, I’m sure, of your brand is personal responsibility, right?
“No one else can get you healthy, no one else can do it for you.” What is necessary to be able to create this new kind of structure is taking personal responsibility and taking it to the next level with what I call “community responsibility”—where you are now a custodian of the resources of a community, and you’re going to act like it. And what I found, when I joined this Christian ministry, is that it wasn’t in my mind like, “Damn, I’m paying all this money every month. I better get my money’s worth. I’ve got to go and see some doctors and get involved in the system because I’m paying $900 a month and nothing’s happening.” I was more like, “Hey, I’m glad that I have this much. I’m glad to know that if I get into an accident, it’s going to be taken care of.”
But ultimately, I’m trying to steer clear of healthcare and medicine altogether because ultimately I know that keeping healthy is a function of like, actively participating in health creation, and not like, taking drugs for random reasons. So that was my thesis, and I just met a lot of other people who do it. I lived in New York, I lived in LA; I met Jewish people who can sign up for Christian ministries and Muslim people who I played cricket with. I met all kinds of people—atheists, people leaving the church—and I just thought, this idea of community responsibility is so ready for primetime that it needs to be sort of de-shackled from a Christian structure. And so I just thought, I also—I have all these doctors who are getting people off chronic disease, and getting them off medication, reversing it— and I’m like, man, if there was ever a chance for us to start our own cost sharing community, not based on Christiandom but based on people who are passionate about health, people who are healthy and take care of themselves, we should do it. And then in January 2018, the law change and we went for it.
KNEW Health – an alternative to health insurance
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. And that’s what KNEW Health is.
James Maskell: And that’s KNEW Health, yeah.
Ari Whitten: Okay, so you’ve basically alluded to what it is, but just summarize real quickly what KNEW Health is.
James Maskell: It’s an affordable alternative to health insurance; it’s an alternate health plan. It’s 30-70% less than health insurance. You can go to the website now and you can calculate your savings compared to what you have. It’s essentially a community of people that agree to a certain set of agreements, and that agreement is that, you take care of your own personal health responsibly, and that if any incident happens, like if you get hit by a car or if you get a chronic illness or anything like that, the community will cover—will share in the costs over and above a certain sort of deductible x amount. So we have, instead of premiums, we have monthly share amount that you put in—
It works very like insurance and you have—instead of deductible—you have an unshared amount. So for me, I have a $500 unshared amount and my family, so that means the maximum out-of-pocket that I’m ever going to spend is $500 for any incident. And we have an awesome team. So if you have any health issue come up at all, you call up our team and you say, “Hey, I’m having this issue. Can you recommend a doctor?” And not only will they know which doctor to go to, but they’ll negotiate the rates for you so you’ll never pay—they’ll pay the lowest rate possible. We partnered with a company that’s been doing this for like, 30 years in negotiating rates for communities just like this. We have 24/7 telemedicine so if you need to call in a prescription at 3 in the morning, you can. And then we have the claim/negotiation part, we have a second opinion service, and over time, we want to layer in other things, like a health coach—
You can have a one-off session with a health coach in the beginning if you’ve never entered one. Down the road, maybe we’ll have more of that. But more than anything, we just wanted to help people massively reduce the amount that they spend on the reassurance to know that if you have something bad happen to you, you will not go bankrupt so that you can invest that extra money in healthy food, or Ari Whitten’s training program, or whatever other things that you want to do to be healthy. And it’s your choice. I don’t need to tell you whether you need to have chiropractic or not. If you value chiropractic, go and see a chiropractor. My wife does, I do, and we just pay for that because we like being healthy, but we’re saving so much per month that we can afford a lot of chiropractic.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. On a personal note, I literally just looked at how much my family’s paying for health insurance, and I also just had a newborn daughter, two weeks ago. And so now, I have a family of four, and we’re literally paying $2400 a month in—
James Maskell: That’s exactly the average, Ari. So $2400-$28,000 a year is bang on the average. I know you work for yourself, so you’re paying the whole amount. I mean, that is the numbers. That’s not abnormal.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I mean, it’s absurd. It’s really absurd to be paying $28,000 a year, especially in the case of a family like mine where we are going above and beyond in spending a lot of money on healthy food and other ways of keeping healthy. I don’t need to be paying for a prepaid drug plan for drugs. I’m never going to have a—I mean, it’s just absurd. So this is perfect timing for me to learn about KNEW Health and I’m actually going to go sign up myself right after we finish this.
James Maskell: Well, look, I never met your family personally, but from what I see on the Internet, you have like “America’s healthiest family” so yeah, you definitely shouldn’t be prepaying for metformin or Humira or any of the classic lifestyle-driven chronic disease drugs.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. Now, so we’ve talked about insurance—I think you’ve done a great job of exposing the scam that modern health insurance has become. I think there’s another scam. I was just saying the other day that—to my wife, we’re going for a walk on the beach and she was telling me that her stepdad—in a way, kind of my father-in-law though, not very close to him—went for a doctor’s appointment. (He’s in his seventies now.) He went for a doctor’s appointment, had to check up blood tests, all that kind of thing. And he was talking to his wife about the results, and his wife—my wife’s mom is actually staying here with us right now so she was having this conversation with him, with her husband—and basically, she was asking him what the doctors found and what they told you what instructions they gave you to do about improving your health.
And basically, it was like, “Well, my cholesterol’s high, my blood sugar’s high, suggestive of insulin resistance; and I think blood pressure was high, too.” And he said, “My blood sugar wasn’t so high that they’re ready to put me on diabetes medication.” And he told me that, for the cholesterol, “I should just up my dosage of the statins from two times a week to three times a week.” And she was like, “Well, did they tell you anything else about how to improve your health or adjust any lifestyle habits or anything like that?” “Nope. That was it.” And I just started laughing at this because, you have somebody who’s overweight, has insulin resistance, has we early signs of Metabolic Syndrome—we know that these are lifestyle-driven problems. And you go to the doctor and it is a completely medication-focused paradigm that basically where the doctors themselves often receive no education whatsoever in nutrition or lifestyle, and literally cannot connect the dots between something like Atherosclerosis, heart disease, or diabetes, with the lifestyle factors that are known to cause those problems.
And these people are going to the doctor and receiving no instruction on those things at all. And what I said in response to this when I started laughing and hearing this is, this is like the greatest con in history—that modern conventional medicine has managed to convince most of the general public that that is actually the scientific approach to health. And it’s absurd! It’s an asinine approach to health. It’s so ridiculously stupid and ignorant of the known science, that it’s just absurd. And yet, they’ve somehow convinced everybody to believe it’s really cutting edge and advanced science.
Why the modern health care system is fixed and works perfectly well
James Maskell: Yeah. My friend, Sachin Patel, says it best. I think he says, “People say healthcare is broken but it’s not. It’s fixed.” And I love that because what that reframes your mind is like, we’re all thinking, “Oh, they’re messing it up. They’re so stupid.” They’re not! This is a profit-maximization machine that has been oiled for years and is working perfectly. It’s just, that’s what the goal is. The idea like, you can see it clearly like there’s a Goldman Sachs report saying, “Is solving chronic disease or is solving disease a viable business model?” Because, on one hand, you have customers for life; on one hand, you have people like me that are independent of the medical system. You, you’re a family independent of the medical system. You’re on the last lifeline is [inaudible] like, your prepaid drug plans say you’re still paying into it because they’ve got you.
So you know it’s true and you’ve identified that scam. I think one of the most exciting things in America is that a lot of people have identified that scam. And ultimately, what I feel is like—the reason how we got here is because putting the best trained physician with a prescription pad at the front of medicine is the best idea when you have acute disease. And we just took that model and put it for chronic illness because, 30 years ago, if we’re having the same conversation, you could probably justify in your mind that all these chronic illnesses are going to get solved once we decode the human genome—once we do this, once we do that, we’ll just solve it with pills. To me and you now, that’s absurd, and there’s no way that that’s going to happen.
It’s not really going to work. And anyone who’s looking at the future of medicine knows there’s never gonna be a drug for Alzheimer’s, there’s never going to be a drug—because they’re all caused by the causes of [inaduble]. So my thesis on this, Ari, is that in chronic disease, the first person that you see should be a non-prescriber. Should we have someone who can’t write a prescription? You definitely need someone to make sure this person is not going to die tomorrow. But if his blood sugar is still below the threshold, he’s not gonna die tomorrow. He didn’t die any day in the last 50 years, right? So start with a non-prescriber, start with a health coach, start with a dietician, start with someone who can say, “Here are proven scientific ways to reduce your cholesterol, reduce your high blood pressure, improve your sleep, improve your mood; learn how to meditate, learn how to cook some an anti-inflammatory meals,
learn how to take care of your body in the way that it is.” And so ultimately, we can’t do that. I can’t lobby Blue Cross Blue Shield to do that. They’re a profit-making entity; they’re doing fine. What I can do is start an alternative to health insurance where people can sign up, where we’re going to educate you on how to stay healthy, where if you want to see a health coach, you can see a health coach, and over the next three years, we’re simultaneously helping to build a network of doctors and professionals and celebrities like yourself who have—
Ari Whitten: Oh, I’ve never been called a celebrity. Thank you.
James Maskell: —Well, affordable ways to be able to get people to keep people healthy. Like, if everyone in our community went through The Energy Blueprint, we’re going to have a lot of people who will be independent of the medical system for years because they’ll just know how to take care of themselves.
And so ultimately, that’s the potential of what we’re doing here. And the good news is that we have a kind of an open slate here in America for now because it’s really cost-effective. You’re not just signing up for something that’s the same price that has different medicine. You’re saving 30-70%—in some cases, 80%. So it’s pretty exciting that the system got so bad and so arrogant actually, that I think they just feel like no one can mess with them—and I feel like, if we can get people like you on our side and really blow this out, we can potentially have an impact.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely. And that’s why I wanted to have you on the show is because I believe in what you’re doing and I think it’s so important. I want to comment on a couple things. One is: I had a guest on my show recently, a mitochondrial researcher—actually a pioneer in a field called the mitochondrial psychobiology. His name is Martin Picard and—I really enjoyed the show, he’s a brilliant guy—one of the things he said, commenting on the healthcare system, or broadly, he said, “The entire medical system from—every layer of it, from the actual care that you’re receiving to the insurance, to the actual research that’s being conducted by very well-intended, often very altruistic, great, very smart people, who are actually researchers in a lab conducting experiments,
trying to help people—is fundamentally focused on disease and illness.” It is, that, the model, this entire conventional medical paradigm, is like, how do we analyze cancer, and analyze diabetes, and analyze Alzheimer’s, and analyze obesity, and figure out what are the specific biochemical pathways that are dysfunctional in these different diseases, and that, how do we develop a drug that can interrupt these abnormal, biochemical pathways? And that seems like a reasonable, somewhat logical approach to health, until you realize that health isn’t actually built by popping pills to interrupt abnormal, biochemical pathways. Health is built by focusing on what are the things that actually create optimal cellular function and metabolic function and hormonal function. And that is an entirely different paradigm and an entirely different set of answers that you arrive at when you start studying human health through that lens, as opposed to, “how do we study what diseases and then try to undo or block or interrupt disease pathways?”
James Maskell: 100%. And in fact, this conversation that we’re having now is really the focus of my work at this moment. Because what I’ve started to realize is exactly that. And that actually by—we’re not even aware of how deeply ingrained disease-based thinking is. It’s fear-based, it’s—even prevention, right? Preventing prevention is such a weird concept because like how do you know what you prevented? You don’t. And it’s also your thinking and context from a fear-based mentality. One of the things that I think I’m becoming more and more clear on, is that by leaving health creation in the hands of people who were never trained for it and also don’t really understand it—because of like the licensure and keeping that—we’re ultimately capping the potential of health creation by saying that it’s got to go through the same channels as disease-care came through.
And ultimately, at the same time, we have to honor that disease-care in its right place is necessary and awesome. And we’ve got the best part of it here in America. What I’m advocating for is that health creation should be de-tethered—untethered from disease-care and just be done by itself. And in that way, you see that what it looks more like, is groups of people empowering themselves to health. It looks more like crossfit, and it looks less like hospitals. It looks more like groups of people eating right, learning—sleeping well, exercising otherwise, and less like a conventional care ward, or even an outpatient facility. And so I’m super excited where we see—the thing that excites me more than anything, Ari, is where you see someone getting healthy, and then learning from that process, and then teaching someone else rapidly, because that’s how you create an exponential effect.
The importance of taking charge of your own health
Ari Whitten: Yeah. You said a few minutes ago, you gave the example of people going through The Energy Blueprint program and learning to take charge of their own health. You and I chatted on the phone recently and we talked about the Cleveland Clinics, a 10-week course in basic nutrition and lifestyle habits. This is such a powerful piece of information and I would love for you to claim what it’s all about.
James Maskell: Yeah. So I’ve got—my second book is coming out in January. It’s called, A Cure for Loneliness and ultimately, what I’m advocating for in that is, the way that I think that functional integrated medicine will make it to the masses. And it will look very different than it’s delivered now, and it will look very different than people expect, but it’s very, very exciting. So yeah, let me tell the Cleveland Clinic story. So 2014, Mark Hyman convinces the Cleveland Clinic that they need to start a functional medicine center. First time that this has really happened. He starts out with a small space, it’s him and a couple of other doctors, and they’re just doing functional medicine like you might get at a local functional medicine doctor—one on one, long appointments, lots of testing, lots of supplements, toughest of the toughest cases—and it’s the only [one] but it’s getting good results.
But the growth of interest and the growth of capacity is—interest is outstripping, the waiting list is getting longer, and now they’ve got to build a new facility because it’s going so well. They decided to move to an 80,000 square-foot facility. And they start to realize they’re never going to be able to keep up with the demand, and that what they also realize is that, the difference between people who have success in functional medicine [and] who don’t, are they now participating in their health? Have they made the mindset shift from, “This functional medicine doctor’s gonna fix me” to, “I’m going to fix myself and this guy’s gonna guide me”? That’s the fundamental shift that needs to happen for people to get well and stay well. So this administrator called Connie Jones, she is just limping Cleveland her whole life,
African American, probably 40 years old, she’s an administrator there, she sees what’s happening, she loves Mark Hyman, she’s passionate about what she’s doing—she sees what they’d be doing with things like the Daniel Plan, she decides that any new patient who want to see Mark Hyman and who want to see anyone else at the Cleveland Clinic, “I’m going to dangle that opportunity behind what they call, ‘Functioning for Life’. It’s a 10-week, two hours a week program, all built on insurance, where a dietician, health coach, and physician assistant team— either one each time or two each time—essentially take people through a curriculum where they learn how to take care of themselves, and they also, most importantly, are introduced to other people who also want to get healthy—all happened to live on the Cleveland area. So this thing kicks off. First of all, the practitioners love doing it.
I met a PA who had never done functional medicine, had never done a group visit, and is like, “[This is] the future of medicine. Whatever. I’m in.” But get this, 66% of people who come through that course where they have to see the doctor—they’re just better. They know how to operate their body. They have now a new network of friends that support them. They’ve seen the potential of where doing health creation as transforming their disease state has taken them. And so ultimately, they are now independent of the medical system! And so now it’s being rolled out different ways. Now that’s called a group medical visit or a shared medical appointment. They’re not the first people to come up with that, and in my book, I talk about sort of where it came from and how it’s developed.
But here’s what I think, Ari, is that the group visit by itself to treat loneliness by introducing people to each other is super, super, super valuable because that’s the key determinant of health. Teaching people a curriculum on how to take care of themselves—and they’re like baseline of participatory medicine—it’s super, super valuable. But when you do both of them together, it is a really super alpha force. And so, inside my next goal is to really massively increase the supply of group visits inside the medical system. But also, if we go back to the conversation we were just having, why this be a medical thing at all? Yes, people who are lonely and sick end up in the medical system [where there’s a] place to put me things, but I’ve seen examples—I went to a thing in Oakland early this summer called Open Source Wellness, where it’s a 16-week program.
You can come in every four weeks. But it’s peer-led, peer-run, and once you go through the 16-week process and you’ve gone through and seen the whole thing, every two-hour session, they’re actually doing the fundamentals of health. So they start with a meditation, and they do some exercise, and they eat in community, and they talk about their issues in small groups. I went to it; it was amazing. We felt kind of like improv class at the beginning, but it was a really great vibe—super ethnically-diverse, really good vibe [did in there]. As soon as you go through that 16-week program, you can do like a TEDx, Opensource, Wellness X—you can start your own one and just teach the curriculum. And that, I think, is more like it because, I don’t care if the administrator at this other hospital—they might read my book, they might think, this is great, they might [do] it, they might get some pushback from the higher ups—this, we could just do, and everyone could do it, and it could just work, and no one would be able to tell us not to do it, no one will be able to stop it, and ultimately, that’s the kind of like exponential health creation force that is going to be necessary to turn around what is a rapidly sinking ship. As far as what’s happening with our numbers, this is the time in history that life expectancy’s gone down. That never happened before. We’re in real trouble, and we need powerful forces not tethered to a system that really hasn’t adapted fast enough for the problems that we face.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, absolutely, well said. I have so much to say on this topic, I’m going to try and express this succinctly. One is, I think the shift from the power for me to heal is out there in some practitioner or some person who’s going to heal me or some drug that’s going to heal me, to the individual as their own healer—the person who has the capacity to heal themselves. I think that shift is so, so critical. Another aspect is the power of community. I think you’re spot on with that. We have a private community and my Energy Blueprint members group, an online community—but I know that, even just that online engagement, even not even having the in-person interaction is hugely healing for so many people, and people love that group so much.
I have people who’ve gone through the program four years ago and still are active every other day in that group. I think it’s absolutely a hugely important aspect of healing. The other thing I want to emphasize here is, again, this Cleveland Clinic statistic that you mentioned before. There’s a group of people who have health problems and symptoms—maybe even full-blown diseases—who want to see a doctor to help fix their diseases and deal with whatever illness and symptoms they’re dealing with, and in the span of 10 weeks of learning some basic nutrition and lifestyle habits and engaging with some other people in community, 66% of them no longer even wanted to see the doctor anymore. I think this is such an important statistic for people to pay attention to. And I want to add a couple of layers to that, which is—one is, we know also from research and David Katz—who’s a world-renowned nutrition researcher and author—talks about this a lot:
Just through a few basic habits, like eating a whole foods diet and exercising—not even exercising a lot, exercising like three times a week or four times a week—not smoking and not drinking, and there might be like one other one, but we’re talking like just a very, very basic level of improvement in nutrition and lifestyle habits—just those steps alone can reduce the overall disease burden in this country by 80%. 80%. Now, if we’re looking for an answer for solving the healthcare crisis, that’s the answer in my view. But that’s not where energy is being focused. I also think that if we went just beyond those basic steps and started to look at like, circadian rhythm and sleep habits; and meditation and other vagal activity activation and neuroscience strategies; and different kinds of exercise and hormesis; and detoxification and sauna and gut health strategies; and sunlight and other light therapies, and we start to really address these things in depth in a more advanced way—I think it’s reasonable to get at least 90%, maybe even a 95% reduction in the disease burden, if you can get 80% with just a few basic steps. So, I want to say all of that, and I also want to just add one more layer to this, which is: there’s a little bit of a trend in the holistic health and functional medicine community that worries me a little bit, which is, kind of a tendency towards “green allopathy”, and almost like an inferiority complex compared to conventional medicine. I see some people who almost want to be more like conventional medicine; they want to run their tests and then write prescriptions for various drugs or various supplements. And I really wish that more people would embrace natural health and nutrition and lifestyle changes, rather than trying to be more like what conventional medicine is doing. Because I think it’s just so much more powerful.
James Maskell: I couldn’t agree more. Ultimately, I think it’s a function of looking for validation inside a Big Brother system, which I think is just the way it’s always gone. Like integrative medicine began as a concept of whole-person health, but integrative medicine became advocating for chiropractors and acupuncturists—it became very modality-focused, and really the energy at the beginning, although it was like whole-person health and these kinds of things, but it’s just a function of people who are in integrated medicine (i.e., chiropractors and acupuncturists) fighting for their rights to be relevant and to help people. And so I think, 100% right, I think it comes from just where it arose from. If you look at the naturopathic profession as an example, you know it’s exactly that thing that you said—some of the most gifted, most incredible physicians that I’ve ever met chose to be naturopathic doctors because they recognized the power of the body to heal and they wanted to access that force.
And then at the same time, you get a lot of people who go to naturopathic school because it’s an easier way. I’m a doctor and in many states you can be licensed and you can do herbs instead of drugs, and you still have the doctoring mindset, but that’s just one profession and you see that I think across them. So again, like naturopathic concepts are exactly what we’re talking about here. Like, get rid of chronic disease by getting the body healthy and then you’re creating health, and quite how that’s worked out is a function of just where things came from. But look ultimately, Ari, we are in a position right now where everything is so broken or, fixed in the way that it is, that there is a real opportunity to be able to build it.
And I don’t doubt that that group that you have is super powerful. I know I’ve heard the same from Kelly Brogan who’s getting people off psychiatric medication, about how powerful her group was, and I think that the more ways that we can find to really create an established community, introduce people to each other—I think it’s really powerful. And our vision for new health is eventually to have local chapters and really connect people in to gather new things and to share the burden. If you’re really smart and you want to reduce your costs and time that it takes to stay healthy, you do things like batch-cooking—where you cook a bunch of things in a three-hour period so you’re not cooking an hour every day. Well, take that out to like a community batch-cooking model, where groups of healthy families coming together, cooking one big meal and sharing it out, it increases that exponentially. There’s also great value from being connected with healthy people. That to me is a vision for the future of healthcare. The incentives have to line up. So, we’re just starting with the end in mind.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. I’ve also—I want to comment on one other thing I’ve heard you mentioned in another interview, that there’s actually some indication that these kinds of group visits can actually be superior to one-on-one visits. And I want to contrast something cause there’s also this trend that’s going on right now within, I think, every aspect of modern medicine right now, is kind of gravitating towards these ideas around “everybody’s a unique individual, everybody needs their own highly-personalized analysis of what’s right for them based on their unique microbiome or based on their unique genetics or whatever their unique biomarkers are” and, I think—there’s obviously some aspect of truth to it. There’s obviously some individual variation, somebody reacts to dairy, somebody doesn’t; somebody reacts to nightshade, somebody doesn’t. However, I do think this whole movement towards this high degree of individualization and personalization is largely misguided, and is largely taking us down a bad path, in the sense that I think we’re losing sight of the fact that—just some basic common sense.
If we went to Sri Lanka and Sumatra and took a hundred—a thousand tigers out of the jungle, and we brought them back to the United States, and we put them all in zoos around the United States, and we kept an eye on them over the next 10 years as they were in these zoo environments—being fed a processed zoo diet—and we started to notice that over the next 10 years, 75-80% of the tigers started to develop obesity and diabetes and started to display to depression or panic attacks, anxiety; started to develop neurodegenerative disease and cancer, and all of these chronic diseases that have become so common in humans—I think we would all realize that the solution is not, “Let’s analyze each tiger’s unique microbiome and genetics and find the unique personalized diet that’s right for them,” and instead, what we would do is go, “Let’s study what the right lifestyle and diet and environment is for tigers in the wild, and try and replicate that as best as possible.” And so I think to some extent there’s this overblown hype around individualization and a total underappreciation for the universal basics.
James Maskell: That’s a great analogy, Ari, and I bet you came up with it because it’s unbelievably hard to argue with. I mean, it’s true. The environment’s a mess. I do think that the future is, what we call, “precision public health”, where people will get the care that’s necessary for them, but ultimately to even engage with anything like—look who can engage with precision things now, with the biohackers. Is the average person on the poverty line a biohacker? No, you have to be pretty damn empowered to be a biohacker. You have to be confident enough to own your own labs and this and that and whatever. So ultimately, I guess what I’m saying is, I think that is the future, but we’ve got the present to deal with today. On the present to deal with today is that our environment is creative with disease or creates disease, and the best leverage that we have is to transform that environment and ultimately—what’s really exciting to see is that a family that decides that they’re not going to interact with that environment anymore, doesn’t have to—like, my six-year-old doesn’t know what coke is, doesn’t know what McDonald’s is, just doesn’t know what these things are. And that’s because we created on purpose an effort to be able to curate the culture for them. And ultimately, what’s exciting is, you see that when a kid gets sick, parents have to work out what to do, they all get healthy together, they become a beacon in that community for other people like, “Hey, what happened to that family?” It eventually starts to spread in that community, and that’s happening everywhere, at every socioeconomic group and ultimately, we feel like this group-visit structure could expand those possibilities to everyone.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. And I think the example of the Cleveland Clinic—66% of people going through this program where they’re learning just basics of nutrition and lifestyle and 66% of them have enough improvement in their health and a decrease in their symptoms that they don’t even want to see the doctor anymore—I think it’s powerful evidence of the power of group visits and, I would argue, doing the universal basics as well. I want to wrap up with just an appreciation for everything you’re doing, and maybe a quick—I would love to just have you do like a quick pitch for KNEW Health and just speak to the benefits of this over-traditional insurance, because I don’t want that to get lost in all the topics we’ve covered here. I think this is so important for people to get onboard with these co-sharing plans and leave the scam of modern health insurance.
James Maskell: Yeah, absolutely. It’s kind of like Stockholm syndrome—where you love your health insurance plan even though it’s captured you. So, yeah, if you want to break free of the shackles of the system, you still want reassurance that, if the unlikely scenario of something bad happening to you happens, that you won’t go bankrupt, you can join the KNEW Health community. And in the KNEW Health community, we have an agreement about how we share our healthcare costs. You put in a certain amount every month, it’s 30-70% lower than health insurance as a certain for each qualifying interim that happens as a certain maximum out-of-pocket, which would be anywhere from 500 to 5,000, and you can choose one you want. What happens when you choose 5,000, well, monthly share amount is going to be lower because the chances of you using it go down.
And ultimately, we, the community, will chip in and pay for all of the costs in that moment. And ultimately, you can then use whatever money you save to invest in the things that you already invest in that you that aren’t available on insurance, too. We believe that that is a more effective way of creating health. You can sign up today; you don’t have to wait ‘til open enrollment—but typically, a lot of people make their decision at open enrollment. We’d love to have you join us.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, awesome. James, thank you again so much. Really appreciate having you on.
James Maskell: Thanks, Ari. Aright, take care, man. Thanks so much for the opportunity and, I appreciate the great work you’re doing.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, thank you.
I hope you enjoyed this podcast and I hope it just blew your mind.
Again, here’s the bottom line: If you’re a health conscious person, if you’re under the age of 65, and if you’re not into paying high insurance premiums that basically cover other people’s costs (people who don’t take care of their health) for their drug prescriptions and expenses related chronic illnesses…
Then I seriously want to encourage you to get this. You can actually go to the link provided on the page for this podcast and there’s a link to a CALCULATOR that will show show exactly how much this plan will cost before you buy, so you can see how much money you’ll actually save each month.
Again, I personally have gotten rid of my old health insurance plan and switched over to KNEW health’s cost-sharing plan. I am literally saving almost $2,000 a month by doing this.
What am I doing with all that extra money each month? I’m spending on my family’s health — on things which health insurance plans mostly don’t cover any way, like massages, higher quality organic foods, craniotomy sacral therapy for my new baby, chiropractic, nutritional supplements and more. Oh, and I still have $500-$1,000 left over even after doing all this.
So here’s the deal…
Nationally, benchmark health insurance rates, for those not receiving employer- or government-subsidized health insurance, increased by about 25% in 2017, and by 30% in 2018.
After rent or mortgage, health insurance is one of the biggest costs your family faces. Can you imagine any other major cost of your family increasing by 15%-30% year after year?
Why are health insurance costs so out of control in America?
Political variables aside, there are many clear reasons. The main one is that health insurance companies are publicly traded companies, and thus have a fiduciary responsibility to their investors to maximize profit… i.e., to raise your premiums as much as they can.
Since it’s a highly-regulated industry, startup costs are high, and competition is low. Which means, it’s dominated by only a few major players, who set the prices to basically whatever they want.
Add to this the fact that hospital pricing is completely opaque as well. The hospitals charge basically made-up (large) numbers to the insurance companies, who have little reason to spend the cost/time/effort to negotiate the prices down. They pass the costs onto you in the form of your spiraling premiums–knowing you have few other options. For example, as an over the counter item, insulin (for diabetics) costs about $75 per month. But if you go through insurance, they’ll typically charge you $400 for the same amount of insulin. And you have to cover ALL of that if you haven’t met your deductible. So that’s the cost of 5 months worth of insulin paid out of pocket by someone who has no insurance, but if you have insurance, they’ll charge you that much for just a month’s worth.
Another example… my wife just went to the podiatrist for an injury to her toe while rock climbing. They ended up not being able to help with it, and then when she was leaving she went to pay and was informed the visit was $150. To see the podiatrist for 20 minutes and no procedures were done. So she asked, how much would you charge if I had no insurance at all and I pay out of pocket? They said $75.
This is the kind of shady stuff that insurance companies are doing with virtually all pharmaceuticals, medical tests, and medical procedures. They are inflating the prices massively, so not only are you paying the insurance companies, but you’re paying a massively inflated amount in your deductible too.
Here’s the most important thing to understand: As we discussed in this podcast, health insurance companies KNOW exactly what the rates are of various chronic diseases and what they average costs are for each individual, when they eventually end up with chronic diseases and are on 2, 3, 5 or 10 prescription drugs each month. They KNOW the costs in advance. So they are basically charging you in advance for the money it will cost to cover you when you do get a chronic disease. Plus a bunch of profit on top.
But here’s the thing…If you’re a health conscious person (and since you’re listening to this podcast, you probably are!), then you probably don’t intend to get chronic diseases and be on lots of prescription meds each month. But insurance companies don’t figure all that into the equation and reward you for taking care of your health. You pay the same rates as the other people, and ultimately, you are partly funding the medical costs of unhealthy people who never took care of their health. The insurance companies use the high premiums of health conscious people just like you to subsidize the costs of healthcare.
And if you’re health conscious, and you’re anything like me, you never even reach your deductibles any way before they reset each year. So basically you end up paying for all your visits anyway (and actually paying inflated prices for using insurance), PLUS you pay huge monthly premiums on your insurance plan each month on top of that!
So if you’re sick of playing this shady game, and paying huge chunks of money each month for services you don’t use and probably will never use… But you still want a backup plan — in case an accident or disease happens, you don’t want it to cost you, then this is the path forward.
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What do you plan to spend all that extra money on each month? Instead of paying insurance companies where it’s basically serving as a pre-paid drug plan, you can actually invest it in your HEALTH.
I strongly encourage you to do this… Again, you can go to Theenergyblueprint.com/knew-health and there’s a link to a CALCULATOR that will show show exactly how much this plan will cost before you buy.
Plus, there is normally a $300 signup fee for the year, and they are waiving that fee for my audience until the end of October. So go get on this while you can! THIS IS REAL. And you can legitimately save hundreds or even THOUSANDS every single month.
Go to Theenergyblueprint.com/knew-health … Then you’ll see for yourself how much money you’ll actually save each month. And when you see that, your mind will be blown (as mine was) and you’ll want to sign up.
The Scary Truth About The Health Insurance System and How To Get A Far Cheaper (and Hidden) Insurance Alternative that Can Save You $500-$2,000 Each Month (with James Maskell) – Show Notes
The health insurance scam (06:09)
Why health insurance is a “pre-paid drug plan” (15:41)
The difference between health insurance and out of pocket payments (19:00)
KNEW Health – an alternative to health insurance (25:33)
Why the modern health care system is fixed and works perfectly well (32:40)
The importance of taking charge of your own health ( 41:12)
Click here for the Savings Calculator and see exactly how much money you can save each month.
Want to join KNEW Health? Click here to sign up! James has gifted my community with a discount and you will save $300 off the annual membership fee (making it $0) through October 31st 2019! Sign up today!
If you want to learn more about KNEW Health and what they do, check out their Savings Guide and FAQ.