With the future of America’s healthcare system in limbo and millions trapped with increasing premiums, it appears that over a million Americans have found an answer.
Increasingly, families across the nation are making the switch to a lesser-known healthcare option: health care sharing plans.
Health care sharing plans are one of the fastest-growing healthcare options in the nation, but chances are, you’ve never heard of them.
Below, we’ll walk you through some of the important information you need to know about this fast-growing healthcare option.
What Are Healthcare Sharing Plans?
Healthcare sharing plans, also referred to as health care sharing ministries, provide applicants with effective health coverage in the case of a medical emergency.
As you may have guessed these ministries usually have a strong religious affiliation. These ministries generally have strict applicant requirements and limit the number of procedures that are covered, sometimes based on religious grounds. This means that procedures such as abortions are not allowed.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that these health care sharing ministries generally do not cover pre-existing conditions, nor do they cover most preventative care.
With this in mind, it’s time to examine just how health care sharing plans work.
Applicants who meet the ministry’s requirements join a network of other individuals who all pay a monthly fee into the plan.
Each month, the members of the health care sharing plan make a decision to send money to a specific member in the network. Of course, this member is one who is currently faced with a medical expense.
In this way, health care sharing plans give those in the network the flexibility to choose where their dollars are going—and people get fast payment for their health care services.
In fact, this is part of the reason that health care sharing plans have gotten so popular. Because health care sharing plans offer fast payment of services, they are often able to reduce the cost of a procedure and minimize the out-of-pocket cost to the patient.
And for many who have dealt with high insurance premiums and deductibles, this out of pocket cost is usually lower than what they would have expected under current market plans.
This difference can sometimes be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
This extreme price difference often works because hospitals and other medical facilities are promised prompt cash payment for their services. In this way, those who are part of the health care sharing plan can haggle the price down of certain procedures—sometimes by more than $100,000.
What those in health care sharing ministries have discovered is that many medical facilities are willing to lower the cost of an operation and post-op treatment if payment can be made within ninety days.
And health care sharing plans can do just that, helping members save thousands in the event of a medical emergency.
But as health care sharing ministries have begun to explode onto the spotlight in the last decade, some are wondering where these unique plans came from.
Interestingly, some of the oldest health care sharing ministries have been around since the 1990s and have paid over $1,000,000,000 in medical fees.
So why the recent trend in health care sharing plans? What social conditions came together to make this a popular, viable alternative form of healthcare for over a million people in the nation?
Factors That Led to the Rise of Healthcare Sharing Plans
In short, no factor was more instrumental in the rise of health care sharing plans than the distrust in the medical health insurance field.
Since the introduction of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, American distrust in the healthcare industry has grown to new heights.
Conservatives, in particular, who felt that the legislation represented government overreach have found particular solace in health care sharing plans.
And it comes as no surprise.
These health care sharing ministries offer a conservative alternative to government-run healthcare, with proponents of the plan noting that it’s a way to keep the government out of their wallets.
Because most plans are faith-based and don’t cover acts such as abortions, sex change surgeries, or from accidents resulting from misconduct, members of health care sharing plans enjoy the added perk of knowing that their money is being spent for a good cause.
The impact the passage of Obamacare had on health care sharing ministries has been undeniable. With some estimates reporting that health care sharing plan participation has gone up 600% since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, it’s clear that many Americans have grown tired of traditional insurance options.
But it’s not just religious conservatives who have begun to embrace health care sharing ministries.
It’s the health care providers as well.
The Relationship Between Healthcare Sharing Plans And Healthcare Providers
Surprisingly, many healthcare providers have embraced healthcare sharing plans as a viable partner. The reason is simple. It saves them money.
Some physicians have noted that there are far less overhead costs when working with a patient covered by a healthshare plan, as opposed to an insurance policy. Physicans often avoid mounds of insurance paperwork when working with a healthshare company.
Additionally, healthcare sharing plan companies offer fewer headaches for healthcare providers because in many cases,they don't require providers to be part of a specific network.
Benefits of Healthcare Sharing Plans
Lower Monthly Payments
Let's start with the obvious. Because healthcare sharing plan companies usually pay much quicker than insurance companies, they are able to negotiate lower costs for their medical needs. For this reason, the average monthly payment you would be expected to pay under a healthcare sharing plan is likely to be substantially less than a benefits comparable insurance plan. This means that you don't have to worry about breaking the bank to pay for your family's insurance. This is especially true if you have four or more members in your family.
Because healthcare sharing plans technically don't have deductibles, you actually won't be paying a deductible at all. Instead, you will be paying a similar fee, called an "annual portion", or "Member Shared Responsibility Amount". The amount is the medical costs a member must bear before plan benefits kick in. This amount tends to be lower than the deductibles within a comparable traditional insurance plan.
No Enrollment Period
One reason why many families opt for healthcare sharing plans is because they offer any-time enrollment. This means that you don't need to wait for an open enrollment period to gain health insurance. Instead, individuals can simply sign up for the plan they wish and begin their coverage.
Most importantly, members of healthcare sharing plans receive quicker access to healthcare. This option has proved attractive to thousands of families across the United States who are looking for a quick and effective way to cover their healthcare.
Many consumers like knowing that they will never have to worry about missing an open enrollment period. The convenience of simply choosing a plan and going with it, has helped grow healthcare sharing plans into the phenomena they are today.
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