Health care sharing ministries are a Christian-based alternative to traditional health insurance. They encourage members through notes and prayers, providing a sense of community and family. They are based on the Biblical command of Galatians 6:2 to bear one another’s burdens.
Some health sharing programs require that applicants adhere to specific biblical values, and some exclude services such as abortions and gender reassignment surgery. However, they are not regulated like traditional health insurance.
Many people are familiar with a healthcare sharing ministry, also known as a “healthcare share plan.” These organizations are faith-based and require members to adhere to a set of religious beliefs. They also typically have lower pre-subsidy costs than ACA/Obamacare plans and offer Nationwide PPO networks.
Healthshare programs are designed for large and unexpected medical needs, rather than preventative care. To qualify for a healthcare share plan, you must live by certain moral standards and refrain from activities like smoking or using illegal drugs. Additionally, some healthcare sharing plans are not available for women who are pregnant.
According to the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, more than 100 health care sharing ministries operate in the United States. Most of these are small, faith based organizations that restrict membership to specific denominations or churches. However, some health sharing communities such as Sedera and Mpowering Benefits do not require a statement of faith and offer secular options.
Statements of Faith
Many faith-based health sharing programs include a statement of faith that is included in any membership agreement. These statements of faith are also referred to as statements of belief, statements of standards or principles of membership.
Generally speaking, these statements of faith require that members agree with the beliefs of their specific faith group. For example, Solidarity HealthShare Members must believe in “the God of the Bible and His son Jesus Christ.”
In addition to adherence to a statement of faith, most faith-based healthcare sharing plans do not allow members to receive treatment from doctors who perform abortions or gender reassignment procedures. Additionally, these plans may not cover pre-existing conditions and they do not offer guaranteed coverage.
However, according to The Commonwealth Fund, most states have instituted safe-harbor laws that prevent state regulators from enforcing strict insurance rules against health-sharing ministries. This has allowed for a number of faith-based healthcare sharing plans to grow and thrive.
Eligibility for Membership
While faith-based health sharing ministries are not insurance policies and therefore not subject to the ACA’s rules, they do have requirements that must be met for membership. Typically, members share a monthly amount to help pay for medical expenses that meet the ministry’s guidelines.
Most Christian-based health sharing ministries require that members adhere to certain religious standards. These include a commitment to moral and ethical principles and frequent church attendance. They also generally do not cover abortions or gender reassignment surgery.
Other health sharing ministries, like Medishare and Liberty Healthshare, are more similar to traditional health insurance. They offer a network of providers and have deductibles and copays. In addition to these financial benefits, many of these ministries provide spiritual support through encouraging notes and prayers from other members. They also allow you to join anytime without waiting for open enrollment. This flexibility makes them a great option for self-employed people or those who want to avoid the hassles of ACA insurance.
The cost of healthcare sharing ministries can vary significantly. Most are faith based and may require members to attend church regularly, abstain from tobacco and illegal drugs, and sign a statement of faith. But some groups don’t require religious affiliation and are increasingly popular. Many consumers use them to avoid the ACA individual mandate penalty.
Each ministry handles pre-existing conditions differently. Some have networks of providers that they encourage you to see, and others allow you to select any medical professional. In addition, some health share ministries have a track record of raising monthly share amounts on a regular basis, while others raise them rarely.
Most of the 108 known health care sharing ministries are founded on religious principles, and they generally share costs in accordance with biblical teachings. They also do not pay for abortions or gender reassignment surgery. As a result, they have lower monthly costs than traditional insurance plans. Some also offer spiritual support for their members, through encouraging notes and prayer requests.
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