If you are tired of the traditional healthcare experience and are looking for other options, health sharing might be the right choice for you. Often known as health share ministries, they offer an alternative to health insurance by providing a financial shield to those ready to share healthcare expenses with others so that the out-of-pocket expenses are low for everyone. Both families and individuals can participate in health sharing programs by paying a ‘sharing amount’ every month, similar to insurance premiums. Participants choose a program that gives them similar benefits to that of traditional health insurance, such as discounts on healthcare and fixed monthly installments. These sharing plans are considerably inexpensive compared to health insurance plans. They are created by and are centered around people who share similar beliefs and values, and those who participate are expected to adhere to those beliefs and values. Though these may sound similar to health insurance, there are not.
Key Differences between Health Share Plans and Health Insurance Plans
Before we proceed further, it is important to learn the differences between health insurance and health sharing –
- The acceptance into the health share program depends on the standards laid out by the provider. For instance, certain pre-existing conditions and lifestyle choices may not be acceptable to the provider. Medical insurances, however, cannot make such distinctions to comply with the ACA policies.
- Health sharing programs are voluntary and benevolent organizations. These are usually operated by faith-based or social organizations, not for profit but to uphold community values and biblical mandate of sharing each other’s burden. Insurance policy providers always aim to profit from issuing policies to beneficiaries to keep their company running.
- In insurance policies, claims are processed per the provisions of the signed contract. In health sharing programs, however, members’ requests are to be made according to the process established by the provider to facilitate and pay for eligible expenses.
- Insurance providers require an explanation of benefits (EOB) to process the claims. Health share programs require an explanation of shares (EOS) to process the request for shares.
- The cost of health insurance premiums has been skyrocketing in recent times. However, health sharing plans, which are alternatives to private health insurance plans, costsignificantly less. Their premiums cost way less, and most providers are now similar, if not more, features than health insurance plans.
Who Can Benefit from Health Sharing Programs?
Health sharing ministries are becoming an increasingly popular option for people to get health coverage; however, they are not necessarily for everyone. Certain demographics are a better fit to participate in health sharing programs. Some common norms are –
- Have an overall good health conditionto ensure the cost for the entire membership remains low. Health share programs exclude people with pre-existing conditions or have a limited eligibility criterion. However, most programs now allow benefits for pre-existing conditions. So check properly before you join any health share program.
- Maintain a healthy lifestyleby avoiding tobacco use or excessive drinking. If you like to exercise regularly, be fit, and do not engage in dangerous activities, you might be a good fit for health sharing plans.
- Share the same belief system as the entire membershipsince most health sharing plan providers want to include like-minded people. If you are looking to be a part of something meaningful or a community that shares your ideals, you might find health-sharing plans ideal.
- Looking for an affordable option to get health care coveragethan health insurance premiums. If you want to save more without compromising on health care, health share plans will help you save up to 50% compared to traditional health insurance.
- Looking to help others while helping yourself. If you are a man/ woman of faith, then helping others would be a strong motivator for you to join a health share program. But helping others should come at the cost of your own safety.
- Are of pre-retirement ageand are about to lose employee benefits from their employer’s health care plans. Health share plans can bridge the gap between employer coverage and Medicare coverage.
- Run a small business or non-profit organization and seek to provide health benefits to employees. Health share plans are an affordable alternative to health insurance policies. It is also beneficial for self-employed citizens, freelancers, or contractors, who do not have access to employee-backed insurances or cannot afford health insurance, who might also benefit from health share plans.
- Are not eligible for subsidies under the ACAbecause they earn above the federal poverty level. These people may find health share programs as a more affordable option.
- If only you receive employee benefits but not your family members.Some employers do not extend the healthcare benefits to the employee’s family. These people may enroll in health share programs so that even the family members are protected.
If this sounds like a good option for you, book a consultation with a health share plan provider to know more.