Health insurance plan for American Indians

LARAMIE, Wyo. – A new use of an Internet Web site could help a group of
families who want to acquire low-cost, high-quality health insurance.

It’s a new twist on an old concept; strength in numbers offers stronger
market share and mass buying brings lower prices.

John Tempte, Shoshone/Arapaho, got the idea while in college then finessed
it to create the Web site www.eSwarm.org.

Tempte’s goal, which he says is doable, is to collect up to 50 million
names of people who want to be included in a group that, by shear numbers,
will leverage insurance companies to provide low-cost insurance to the
eSwarm collective.

“The concept of swarming is to create a huge pool. Because of buying power
we are able to do it. The same reason Wal-Mart can order in bulk, when they
place an order it represents so much of a market share they get a better
deal,” Tempte said.

With the creation of a large pool of people eSwarm can negotiate with large
insurance companies to provide low-cost or at least affordable health
insurance. At first Tempte wanted to make the offer strictly to American
Indians so they could select a health care facility of their choosing and
not rely on Indian Health Services.

As the concept became known other people asked to join so Tempte opened it
up to everyone.

“The concept is that we would be able to come together even in larger
numbers than Microsoft or Intel. That’s the premise behind the whole
thing,” Tempte said.

The mission, according to Tempte: Help working people make their money more
powerful.

He said there was no reason to sit back and rely on the government for
health care. He got the concept when he visited an IHS facility in Phoenix.
He found that a lot of people stayed in Phoenix just because of health care
availability.

“Be in charge of your own life. You can move to different parts of the
country and have low-cost insurance,” he said.

The concept is neither a pyramid scheme, nor a scam, and it is not illegal
as some state insurance commissioners have suggested, Tempte said. ESwarm
is not acting as a broker, it is the go-between where people join, the
number is calculated and eSwarm negotiates the best deal possible with an
insurance provider.

A full explanation of the program is available on the Web site. Questions
are also answered. The Web site asks people to sign up and there is no
obligation to go along with a plan once it’s negotiated, Tempte said.

“With 50 million members it will be a deal large enough and the dollars
will be enough for a company. We will look for a company that can place
policies in all 50 states,” Tempte said.

He said with 20 million people at $100 per-year profit any insurance
company would want to take on that business.

With a large number, preexisting health conditions will not be a factor
when considering a pool of people. The premiums would be the same for
everyone, Tempte said.

People can join eSwarm online. When negotiations with an insurance company
are in progress the membership will be notified about the rate. If the
majority doesn’t agree, then it’s back to the drawing board, increase the
number of members and find a better premium.

No premiums will ever be paid to eSwarm, Tempte said.

“We have a big number of people who have joined,” he said. He could not
come up with an exact number. Some people who have joined already have
health insurance, many are underinsured and a lot of the American Indian
population is in that category, he said.

Young people, American Indians, people on Medicare, underinsured and small
businesses are invited to join.

“When people think about what we are doing they think about families that
can’t afford health insurance; small businesses that can’t afford to
provide a plan for their employees. The response has been tremendous, there
is an unreal amount of support behind us,” Tempe said.

“Once people grasp the simplicity behind the idea, they quickly urge
friends and family to join. The excitement is just amazing,” Tempte said.

Tempte got his start in business in college. He went to Chico State as a
basketball player and then realized a lot of college students do not have
health insurance. He then worked for the San Francisco 49ers and then moved
on to the Phoenix Suns.

“I realized two things: Uninsured young people went to the Native American
Hospital in Phoenix and I thought we could cut a deal with an insurance
company. We have a lot of people who need benefits and why are Native
Americans so dependent on the government to provide us health care, it is
sub par anyway.

“I thought, if a big company can do it there is no reason we can’t. I then
thought about it, left the NBA where I was not getting satisfaction closing
deals and I decided to put my business skills and talents to help our
people,” Tempte said.

“We ask people just to check us out, and if convinced, to join and spread
the word to their friends and family that help is on the way – the age of
consumer swarming has begun,” Tempte said.

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Health insurance plan for American Indians

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