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Faith-Based Health Insurance Plans In Arizona


Consumers are discovering faith-based health plans, and are choosing them over traditional insurance in ever increasing numbers.  The State of Arizona is no exception.  Arizona has seen exponential growth in the volume of healthcare sharing programs purchased by residents in need of coverage.

So, what is faith based health insurance?

Faith-based health insurance refers to a comparatively new method that individuals and families from all walks of life are utilizing to handle the costs associated with unexpected medical bills.  And it's actually a misnomer.  Faith-based health insurance is not insurance at all - at least not in the legal sense of the word.  Faith-based health plans, (also known as healthcare sharing programs, alternative health plans, or healthcare sharing ministries), are actually health plans that are designed to meet the same needs as traditional health insurance.  However, these plans are not governed by the ACA (Affordable Care Act) rules and regulations and thus can offer a dramatically different structure of benefits and limitations.

There are several advantages (and a few disadvantages) that are inherent within this distinction.  We will touch on both.

Want to see faith-based / healthcare sharing programs and rates now?  Click here.

Good to know:  Want to really know the particulars concerning a health care plan?  Request the "evidence of coverage" document associated with the plan.  The evidence of coverage document is what you need if you want to understand in perfect detail, exactly what a health care plan covers.  You will find a thorough explanation of benefits, exceptions, and exclusions.  The evidence of coverage document provides details that may not be listed in that glossy plan brochure, or any online verbiage detailing plan benefits.  In most circumstances, this document is legally required to be associated with most any health plan policy.  It is available to consumers.  You need only to ask.
The origin of faith-based / healthcare sharing programs.

From humble beginnings, healthcare sharing /faith based ministries have grown exponentially beyond what anyone could have invisioned, when initially exempted from the Affordable Care Act health plan requirements.  At the time, the exemption was a way to counter 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.

State of Arizona.
Phoenix, AZ
How do healthcare sharing programs 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.

Usually, funds to pay medical bills are dispersed within the same community that the members reside.  in other words, membership dues collected from plan members living in the Arizona region will be used to pay for medical costs that arise within the very same Arizona region.

Faith-based plans (also known as healthcare sharing programs) 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.

However, faith-based health plans are not insurance plans.  Rather, they are designed to be an alternative to the health insurance plan.

The mechanics.

In Arizona, 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.

Good to know:  Before purchasing a health plan, ask questions.  Call the member services department of the health plan you're considering and ask: Which doctors, hospitals, clinics or pharmacies participate in the plan?  How much does it cost to go out of network?  Am I covered during a travel emergency?  What is the premium and out-of-pocket costs?  What is the most I'll have to pay out of my own pocket to cover expenses?  Exactly what benefits are covered by the plan and what isn't covered?  How are disputes about a bill or service handled?  Then verify the information you were given by comparing it to the plan's benefit details.

Advantages of Faith-Based HealthCare 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.

Also, the lack of bureaucracy, translates into your physician, medical facility, or hospital being paid much more quickly for services provided.  Consequently, medical providers generally like health care sharing plans.

Disadvantages

One big advantage of an ACA backed plan is you cannot be declined ACA coverage due to a health issue.  Health care sharing 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.

Healthcare sharing plans feature maximum benefit limitations - a significant benefit restriction that you will not find within the benefits of an ACA health insurance plan.

For more information on Faith-Based / healthcare sharing ministries, and how they compare with other healthcare plans, please contact us directly.



Other articles:
Finding Short Term Health Insurance In Arizona
Explaining the Growth of HealthCare Sharing Plans.
5 Strategies For Reducing Medical Bills.
Resources