Faith-Based Health Insurance In San Francisco, CA
Consumers are choosing faith based health plans over traditional insurance in ever increasing numbers. San Francisco, CA is no exception. In fact, California has seen more exponential growth in the volume of health care sharing plans than
any other state in the country.
About San Francisco
So, what is faith based insurance?
San Francisco, in northern California, is a hilly city on the tip of a peninsula surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay. It's known for its year-round fog, iconic Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and colorful Victorian houses. The Financial District's Transamerica Pyramid is its most distinctive skyscraper. It is a cultural and financial centre of the western United States and one of the country's most cosmopolitan cities.
Faith-based health insurance refers to a method 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 health plans, (also known as health care sharing plans, alternative health plans, or health care sharing ministries), are actually health plans that are designed to meet the same needs
as traditional health insurance. The difference is, these 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.
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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 advent of faith-based / health care sharing 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.
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 San Francisco, CA region
will be used to pay for medical costs that arise within the very same San Francisco, CA region.
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.
In California, 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 Health Care Sharing Plans.
|UCSF Medical Center
505 Parnassus Ave
San Francisco, CA 94143
Telephone: (415) 476-1000
Plus Code: QG7R+6V Inner Sunset, San Francisco, CA
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.
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.
Explaining the Growth of HealthCare Sharing Plans.
5 Strategies For Reducing Medical Bills.