The primary difference between the Medical Savings and Loan and insurance has to do with the contracts involved.
With insurance, you sign a contract and pay a premium which gives you a contractual right to health care for a set period.
I realize that the readers of this post understand the difference between a contractual right and a fundamental right. The enemies of freedom are skilled at blurring this distinction. They look at a market and see some people have "a right" to care and others do not and scream unfair!
The health care debate that led to ObamaCare was premised on the false claim that people who do not have a current contract with an insurance company do not have access to health care.
The Medical Savings and Loan is premised on the notion that health care is a responsibility. You own your body and you have a responsibility to save for the care of your body. The Health Care Advocate is a person who helps you understand and fulfill that responsibility.
The program has a lending program. If you borrow money to pay for care, you have a responsibility to repay the loan.
The MS&L issues supplements in the form of grants, but you do not have a right to the grants.
The grants work in the opposite direction. The program puts a large amount of money aside for grants. The grant agencies have a contractual duty to disperse the funds in a fair manner determined by negotiated formulas.
The clients in the program do not have a right to the money.
The grant organizations work much like an insurance company. The Medical Savings and Loan will study the risks associated with a group and use actuarial formulas to determine how much money should be set aside for a group.
The program will have the same amount of money and would distribute the money in much the same fashion as a catastrophic insurnance policy.
The program removes the contractual right inherent in insurance.
I started writing a long involved post about why grants are preferable in health insurance, but decided to cut the argument short to leave you to imagine why a grant organization with the same amount of money as an insurance company would achieve better results than an insurance company ruled by the courts and contractual rights.
To recap: The difference between Insurance and The Medical Savings and Loan is the difference between rights and responsibilities.
In insurance you pay a large premium in return for a contractual right to resources in a pool. With the Medical Savings and Loan, you keep most of the premium money in your savings account and have a responsibility to self-fund your care. Well funded grant agencies have large amounts of cash that they are obligated to distribute to people whose health care expenses fall outside their ability to pay.
The two systems provide the same dollar amount of care. One is uses a complex system of rights the other builds on individual responsibility. People taking responsibility achieve better results than those who game contractual rights.