With the future of America’s healthcare system in limbo and millions trapped with increasing premiums, it appears that over a million Americans have found an answer.
Increasingly, families across the nation are making the switch to a lesser-known healthcare option: health care sharing plans.
Health care sharing plans are one of the fastest-growing healthcare options in the nation, but chances are, you’ve never heard of them.
Below, we’ll walk you through some of the important information you need to know about this fast-growing healthcare option.
What Are Healthcare Sharing Plans?
Healthcare sharing plans, also referred to as health care sharing ministries, provide applicants with effective health coverage in the case of a medical emergency.
As you may have guessed these ministries usually have a strong religious affiliation. These ministries generally have strict applicant requirements and limit the number of procedures that are covered, sometimes based on religious grounds. This means that procedures such as abortions are not allowed.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that these health care sharing ministries generally do not cover pre-existing conditions, nor do they cover most preventative care.
With this in mind, it’s time to examine just how health care sharing plans work.
Applicants who meet the ministry’s requirements join a network of other individuals who all pay a monthly fee into the plan.
Each month, the members of the health care sharing plan make a decision to send money to a specific member in the network. Of course, this member is one who is currently faced with a medical expense.
In this way, health care sharing plans give those in the network the flexibility to choose where their dollars are going—and people get fast payment for their health care services.
In fact, this is part of the reason that health care sharing plans have gotten so popular. Because health care sharing plans offer fast payment of services, they are often able to reduce the cost of a procedure and minimize the out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
And for many who have dealt with high insurance premiums and deductibles, this out of pocket cost is usually lower than what they would have expected under current market plans.
This difference can sometimes be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
This extreme price difference often works because hospitals and other medical facilities are promised prompt cash payment for their services. In this way, those who are part of the health care sharing plan can haggle the price down of certain procedures—sometimes by more than $100,000.
What those in health care sharing ministries have discovered is that many medical facilities are willing to lower the cost of an operation and post-op treatment if payment can be made within ninety days.
And health care sharing plans can do just that, helping members save thousands in the event of a medical emergency.
But as health care sharing ministries have begun to explode onto the spotlight in the last decade, some are wondering where these unique plans came from.
Interestingly, some of the oldest health care sharing ministries have been around since the 1990s and have paid over $1,000,000,000 in medical fees.
So why the recent trend in health care sharing plans? What social conditions came together to make this a popular, viable alternative form of healthcare for over a million people in the nation?
Factors That Led to the Rise of Healthcare Sharing Plans
In short, no factor was more instrumental in the rise of health care sharing plans than the distrust in the medical health insurance field.
Since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, American distrust in the healthcare industry has grown to new heights.
Conservatives, in particular, who felt that the legislation represented government overreach have found particular solace in health care sharing plans.
And it comes as no surprise.
These health care sharing ministries offer a conservative alternative to government-run healthcare, with proponents of the plan noting that it’s a way to keep the government out of their wallets.
Because most plans are faith-based and don’t cover acts such as abortions, sex change surgeries, or from accidents resulting from misconduct, members of health care sharing plans enjoy the added perk of knowing that their money is being spent for a good cause.
The impact the passage of Obamacare had on health care sharing ministries has been undeniable. With some estimates reporting that health care sharing plan participation has gone up 600% since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, it’s clear that many Americans have grown tired of traditional insurance options.
But it’s not just religious conservatives who have begun to embrace health care sharing ministries.
It’s the health care providers as well.
The Relationship Between Healthcare Sharing Ministries and Healthcare Providers
Surprisingly, many healthcare providers have also turned to health care sharing plans.
And the reason is simple:
It saves them money.
Some physicians have noted the overhead costs of trying to deal with insurance paperwork—a cost they can avoid with the cash payments made by health care sharing ministries.
Additionally, the ministries offer fewer headaches for healthcare providers because of they don’t require patients or providers to be part of a specific network.
Because everyone is covered, the process is streamlined.
And though it may appear as though providers are losing money by heavily discounting their services, when accounting for the reduction of overhead costs and the absence of unpaid services, large cash payments can actually prove a boon to their businesses’ bottom dollar.
Because these health care sharing ministries offer upfront and transparent payment for services rendered, providers can have more faith in them than over some traditional insurance and health discount plans.
The process is streamlined for both patients and health care providers. This makes health care sharing ministries a popular option for those who are looking to get treatment, make a payment, and move on.
Because out-of-pocket expenses for those covered under these health care sharing plans are generally so low, the process becomes mutually-beneficial for all involved.
Let’s take a look at some of the other benefits health care sharing ministries have to offer.
Benefits of Health Care Sharing Plans
As you might expect from the increasing popularity of health care sharing plans, this form of insurance can provide several benefits to you and your family. It’s important to understand these benefits in order to make the most informed decision about your family’s healthcare plan.
Let’s take a look at each major benefit in turn to get a better idea of why health care sharing plans may be for you.
Lower Monthly Payments
Let’s start with the obvious. Because members of health care sharing plans pay with cash within ninety days of a procedure, they are able to negotiate lower costs for their medical needs. For this reason, the average monthly payment you would be expected to pay under a health care sharing plan is likely to be substantially less than any government or market plan.
This means that you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank to pay for your family’s insurance. This is especially true if you have six or more members in your family. While it’s true that your insurance won’t cover as much, you can enjoy lower premiums than what you would under a traditional health care plan.
With lower premiums, you won’t have to worry about doing without just to ensure your family is covered. In fact, some health sharing plans, such as Medi-Share, offer premiums of around $402 for your family—much lower than many traditional plans. Some plans even offer individual health insurance for as low as $21 a month.
Because health care sharing plans technically don’t have deductibles, you actually won’t be paying a deductible at all. Instead, you will be paying a similar fee, called an “annual portion.” The annual portion is the medical costs a member must bear before other members are able to share costs.
How much cheaper will an annual portion run you versus the average deductible? In general, you are looking at an average annual portion of $3,000 to cover a standard family. Compare this to the $8,000 deductible you would need to meet in order to receive funding under traditional healthcare plans.
This difference is quite extreme, and it could be the difference between you and your family receiving affordable healthcare or not. One of the most common complaints about the ACA was that deductibles were simply too high to meet.
With a health care sharing plan, you never have to worry about meeting your annual portion. With rates low for individuals and for families, you can expect prices you can afford.
No Enrollment Period
One reason why many families opt for health care sharing plans is because they offer any-time enrollment. This means that you don’t need to wait for an open enrollment period to gain health insurance. Instead, individuals can simply sign up for the plan they wish and begin their coverage.
Most importantly, members of health care sharing plans receive quicker access to healthcare. This option has proved attractive to thousands of families across the United States who are looking for a quick and effective way to cover the healthcare needs of their children.
Many consumers like knowing that they will never have to worry about missing an open enrollment period. The convenience of simply choosing a plan and going with it has helped grow health care sharing plans into the phenomena they are today.
Know What You’re Paying For
One major benefit of health care sharing plans is that members don’t have to pay for anything they don’t support. Because most health care sharing plans are Christian in nature and don’t cover medical expenses incurred through sinful behavior, members can be sure that their money is going to a worthwhile cause.
This is especially true for religious or Christian members. Enrolling in a health care sharing plan means that you won’t ever have to spend your money helping someone get a sex change operation. You also won’t have to cover pregnancies conceived out of wedlock or pay for an abortion.
In short, you will know what you are paying for. By enrolling in a plan that largely shares your moral and political thoughts, you will be able to ensure that your money is going to good use.
The Bottom Line
Health care sharing plans are an increasingly-popular alternative to traditional insurance plans.
For over a million Americans looking to find ways to secure quality healthcare without paying exorbitant premiums and deductibles, health care sharing plans have become a red-hot alternative.
These plans, run by different Christian ministries throughout the United States, offer effective medical “insurance” of sorts.
By negotiating cheaper costs with healthcare providers, and by making prompt cash payments, these health care sharing plans significantly lower costs for all involved.
If you’re considering looking into health care sharing plans on your own, keep in mind that they do typically have strict application guidelines and some hard limitations.
Typically, members must be of the same religious affiliation and must agree to the fact that no morally-questionable actions—such as abortions or sex-change operations—will be allowed. This means that you will likely have to find a health care sharing plan that aligns with your particular religious beliefs.
Finally, for those admitted, these health care sharing plans can offer some incredible benefits. Health care sharing plans boast some of the cheapest insurance rates on the market. With rates as low as twenty-something dollars per month, these plans offer affordable (if limited) insurance that will cover most injuries. With lower “deductibles” and no open enrollment period, these plans also offer easier and more affordable access to care for members and their families.
If you are looking for a cheaper way to shop health insurance, it’s crucial that you consider both traditional and health care sharing plans to see what is best for you and your family.
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