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Healthcare Sharing Ministries In California


Consumers are choosing faith based, healthcare sharing plans over traditional insurance in ever-increasing numbers.  Why?  In most cases, it boils down to flexibility, transparency and price.

So, what are healthcare sharing ministries?

Healthcare sharing ministries are non-insurance company entities that consumers from all walks of life are utilizing to manage the risk of unexpected medical bills.  The plans offered by these companies are designed to work very much like a traditional health insurance plan.  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 ways that are distinctly different than traditional ACA plans.

There are several advantages (and a few disadvantages) that are inherent within this distinction.  This article will address both.

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

Good to know:  Cheaper is almost never better: Cut-rate insurance prices can unfortunately also mean cut-rate, sketchy plan benefits.  The old adage, you often get what you pay for, is true more often than not.  Thoroughly review plan benefits and evidence of coverage statements before purchasing a plan.  If this documentation is not readily available, call the company and request it.  If you are unfamiliar with the insurance company, check independent rating companies like A.M.  Best.  You should expect a rating of A or better.

The advent of faith-based / healthcare sharing ministries.

Healthcare sharing / faith based ministries have grown exponentially beyond what anyone could have possibly invisioned, 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 healthcare sharing ministries work?

To put it simply, healthcare sharing ministries are about like-minded people voluntarily coming together to share the burden of medical expenses.  These entities are typically faith-based - meaning the core concepts are based upon religious beliefs.  What most are unaware of however, is that 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 California region will be used to pay for medical costs that arise within the very same California region.

Healthcare sharing 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.

The mechanics.

In California, the workings of healthcare sharing 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 amount 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.

Interesting Fact:  Americans see their physicians less frequently than patients in most other countries.  On average, citizens in the U.S. go to the doctor just four times a year, compared to the 12.9 times per year Japanese patients see their doctors on average, according to MLive Media Group.  Only Switzerland, New Zealand and Sweden have a lower average number of doctor appointments than the United States.
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 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 healthcare 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.

For more information on Faith-Based / health care sharing ministries, please contact us directly.

Interesting Fact:  One of the factors contributing to high health insurance costs in the U.S. is fraud.  Fraud costs the medical and health insurance industry as much as $200 billion a year.  This includes abuse of prescription painkillers.  The U.S. Center for Disease Control estimates that 12 million adults used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in 2010.  Of these, there were 170,000 seniors who "doctor shopped," getting prescriptions from at least five doctors for controlled substances.



Other articles:
Explaining the Growth of HealthCare Sharing Plans.
5 Strategies For Reducing Medical Bills.
Resources