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Healthcare Sharing Ministries In Georgia


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.

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.
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 Georgia region will be used to pay for medical costs that arise within the very same Georgia 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 Georgia, 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.

Good to know:  Ask for a discount.  You can potentially reduce the cost of your medical bills by asking for a discount upfront.  It may seem unconventional, but many hospitals and practitioners offer certain discounts for which you may be eligible.  For example, some hospitals are part of networks that will reduce your medical bills by a certain percentage if you pay over the phone.  More often than not, these discounts are only available to consumers who ask for them.  Depending on your economic status or the price of your procedure, some medical facilities offer additional discounts that can be paired with your medical insurance to substantially reduce the cost of your procedure.  For example, it's not uncommon for hospitals to offer discounts of up to thirty percent for qualifying customers.

Even if you don't find a discount related to your particular situation, your doctor or hospital may provide you with valuable information about discounts you can use in the future.

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.

Good to know:  Stick with in-network providers.  "The lowest charges are for doctors and hospitals who participate in your insurance network," says Adria Goldman Gross of MedWise Insurance Advocacy in Monroe, New York.  "Check to make sure that the doctors who are treating your children are on your insurance plan.  It's also best to be confident that the doctors are affiliated with hospitals that are covered on your insurance policy."



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



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