Healthy Christian Americans are increasingly turning to Health Share Ministries to get coverage they need, without paying for what they don’t.
Cost Savings—And Where It Comes From
A couple years ago, after hearing from more and more health insurance clients complaining about rising premiums, we started looking for alternatives. What we found – healthshare plans – has been a godsend for people who have found themselves paying $1500 – $2000 a month or more for their health insurance.
One major reason that more people are entering Health Share Ministries is that they provide a way to save money while maintaining basic coverage and avoiding penalties. The average person will pay about half the amount monthly that they do through comparable ACA programs, which is a lot of savings if you stay healthy.
However, these lowered costs have trade-offs in coverage gaps and exclusive membership. For example, many services such as yearly check-ups must be paid for completely out of pocket. Also, if you are disabled or have a chronic medical condition such as diabetes, or develop one within your first two years of membership, you will often not be eligible for membership.
Membership Requirements: Beliefs and Practices
Each Health Share Ministry has its own rules regarding who can join and what they have to do to stay in good standing, and they are not for everybody. A few require you to be members of a specific religious organization. Others simply require that you abide by their code of ethics.
What this means is that you will be asked to sign a statement of belief and a copy of their code of conduct, which may have a variety of requirements related to Christian ethics or “clean” or healthy living. As examples, if you smoke, drink, have a weight issue, or struggle with addiction, it may raise your cost or disqualify you from some memberships.
Less Regulation and What It Means for You
The added flexibility of the rules regulating health share ministries gives more freedom for those whose beliefs and lifestyle are compatible to have the kind of coverage that they want, at what is usually a much better price.
However, that level of discretion and lack of regulation has some drawbacks. It can be difficult to find recourse if you end up with real medical costs that the ministry does not or cannot cover. Ministries have limited funds, and their choice to support a member’s medical need is ultimately voluntary, though we are not aware of any legitimate expenses being denied by any of the healthshare organizations we represent.
Read The Fine Print
The best way to find out if a health share ministry is right for you is to look at their specific conditions of membership, how large and well-established they are, your share of cost per visit, and what they will and will not cover. Learn what sort of bill you will be stuck with in case of an ER visit, an illness or a need for immunizations or medical tests.
You will find a lot of differences between specific health share ministries because of the lightness of regulation. We are experts on these plans, so if you do decide to look into this option your Personal Benefits Consultant can certainly help.
And if you’ve recently joined a Healthshare program, we’d love to hear about your experience.