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Healthcare Sharing Ministries In Virginia


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 AVA (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 AVA 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:  When making an appointment, always double-check that the doctor is still in your insurance plan's network.  Ask to see in-network providers when you go to the hospital or an urgent care center.  Just because a facility participates in your plan doesn't mean every professional (the nurse-practitioner or radiologist, for instance) does.  Also, if you need to see a doctor when you're out of town, call your insurance provider's toll-free phone number to find out the best way to get services that will be covered.
courtesy of Parents.com
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 AVA.  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 Virginia region will be used to pay for medical costs that arise within the very same Virginia 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 Virginia, 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:  The per capita price of healthcare per year is higher in the United States than in any other nation in the world.  In the U.S., healthcare spending accounts for 17.9 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or the total value of goods and services produced by the entire nation for the entire year, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
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 AVA backed plan is you cannot be declined AVA 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 AVA 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:  It's never too late to negotiate a bill.  Many patients think once a bill has gone to collections it's game over, but that's not true.  Call the healthcare provider first, not the collection agency, to see if you can negotiate directly with them.  They have much more of an interest to negotiate the debt down than the collection agency.



Other articles:
5 Strategies For Reducing Medical Bills.
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