So, What Is Faith-Based Health Insurance?
Faith-based health insurance refers to a method by which consumers from all walks of life are utilizing to handle the risk of unexpected medical bills. And
in actuality, it's not insurance at all - at least not in the legal sense of the word. Faith-based plans are actually health plans that are designed to meet the same needs
as traditional health insurance. The difference is, faith-based health plans are not governed by the ACA (Affordable Care Act) rules and regulations. This distinction makes
it possible for faith-based health plans to be structured in a manner that is uniquely different than a traditional ACA plan. There are several advantages (and a few disadvantages)
that are inherent within this distinction. This article will address both.
The advent of faith-based plans.
Health care sharing ministries have grown exponentially beyond what anyone could have possibly imagined, when such ministries were exempted from the Affordable Care Act health plan requirements.
At the time, the exemption was a way to sooth objections from conservative leaning congressmen who had reservations on the passage of the ACA. This exempted niche, is now a fast growing segment
of the health plan industry. From all appearances, this trend will continue well into the foreseeable future.
What was once a fringe idea, limited to devout Evangelicals and rural churches has found acceptance with a wide swath of the American populous.
How do faith-based plans work?
To put it simply, healthcare sharing is about like-minded people voluntarily coming together to share the burden of medical expenses. Healthcare sharing plans are typically faith-based,
meaning the core concepts are based upon religious beliefs. However, in most cases, consumers do not need to be affiliated with any religious group, or be religious at all,
in order to purchase a faith-based health plan.
Faith-based plans (also known as healthcare sharing plans) are designed to accomplish the same fundamental goals as traditional health insurance:
- Help people maintain good health by offsetting the costs of health care access.
- Assist people with the cost of medical bills.
- Protect people from catastrophic financial loss due to major medical expenses.
Good to know: Ask an advocate to work for you. "If you receive a large bill for services, following an ER visit or surgery, for example, and you don't understand how to read it, hire a medical billing advocate to assist you," suggests Ruth Linden, founder of Tree of Life Advocates in San Francisco. "She or he will not charge you if everything is in order. On the other hand, if errors or a questionable charge is found, the typical billing advocate may charge you one-third to one-half of the amount they save you. Your cost savings could run into thousands of dollars." This can be especially important if you're dealing with a complex medical issue that requires significant, and expensive care. Some insurance companies have even begun offering their own advocates, such as UnitedHealthcare's Advocate4Me program, which provides a single point of contact with an expert who can help you understand your coverage and find the help you need.
The workings of faith-based health plans offered by various entities are quite similar. Each month all the members pay a set contribution or "share" amount. This contribution
is based on the health plan style they have purchased. Other factors that may contribute to what the contribution will be are age, gender, and health history. Contributions are placed into a pool
and managed by the healthcare sharing company. The funds are shared with members who have immediate medical bills, according to their chosen plan and company guidelines.
Advantages of Faith-Based Health Care Sharing Plans.
Because Faith based health plans do not fall under Affordable Care Act regulations, there is enormous flexibility in plan structure. This is one of the factors that contribute to a lower
monthly premium, when compared to a traditional health insurance plan with similar benefits. Another contributing factor to lower premiums is the comparative lack of bureaucracy within entities
that offer faith-based health plans. Insurance companies in America have had over a century to build up a virtual mountain of bureaucracy. This stifling excess is invariably passed on to
the consumer, in the form of high plan premiums.
First and foremost, you cannot be declined ACA coverage due to a health issue. This is a major difference as faith-based health plan companies can choose to decline coverage to any individual due
to medical issues or history. Also, certain ACA plan benefits are mandated by law. Some benefits, like maternity, for example, may be very important to you. Your faith-based plan may not offer it.
For more information on Faith-Based health plans, please contact us directly.
Other articles: Explaining the Growth of HealthCare Sharing Plans.
Finding Short-Term Health Insurance.
Explaining the Growth of Healthcare Sharing Plans.
5 Strategies For Reducing Medical Bills.