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Medical Cost Sharing Plans

Most Americans agree that health care costs are spiraling out of control.  The Affordable Care Act plan monthly premiums are continuing to rise with no end in sight.  There is a real need for alternative health insurance choices.  Once such alternative option is a Medical Cost Sharing Plan.

senior studying Medicare Advantage plans.
Medical cost sharing plans are one of the fastest-growing healthcare options in the nation.  They are an effective and affordable option for a growing number of American families.

So What Are Medical Cost Sharing Plans?

Medical cost sharing plans, also referred to as healthcare sharing plans, healthcare sharing ministries, or faith based health plans, are designed to perform the same basic function that a traditional health insurance plan would: Provide a means to pay for the costs associated with unexpected medical bills.

Medical cost sharing plans participants are part of a network whose members all pay a monthly fee into the plan.  The resulting fund is used to manage medical claims according to the company guidelines, and the plan style chosen by the member.  Again, it looks and sounds very much like health insurance - but it's not - not in the legal sense anyway.  Because medical cost sharing plans are not insurance plans, how the plans are structured can be entirely different than what is offered by plans within the Affordable Care Act umbrella.  This distinction is often reflected in plan flexibility and monthly costs.

Good to know:  Ask whether tests, prescriptions or procedures are really necessary.  The latest drugs aren't always better than older, cheaper drugs - just more expensive.  If you tell the doctor you're paying cash, he/she may suggest you wait to see if the condition resolves before ordering an expensive test.  Instead of paying for 20 sessions of physical therapy, pay for one and learn exercises to do at home.
Benefits Of Medical Cost Sharing Plans

Medical cost sharing plans can provide several benefits to you and your family.  It's important to understand these benefits in order to make a informed decision about your family's healthcare plan.

Lower Monthly Payments

Let's start with the most significant advantage.  For a variety of reasons, medical cost sharing plans monthly costs tend to be lower than the typical monthly premium of traditional health insurance plans.

Lower Deductibles

Medical cost sharing plans tend to offer plan choice that feature lower "deductibles" than those found in traditional health insurance plans.  (FYI:  Because cost sharing plans are not insurance plans, the term "deductible" is not used.  Terms like "annual portion", or "shared cost responsibility" are used instead.)

No Enrollment Period

One reason why many families opt for medical cost 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.  So, in some cases consumers purchasing a medical cost sharing plan will receive quicker access to healthcare.

Also, 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.

Good to know:  Keep an eye out for health plan discounts for using fitness technology like Fitness Trackers.  As technology makes data about the state of our health easily available, many insurers are starting to look at using tools like fitness trackers to minimize risk.  Some insurance providers currently offer discounts or incentive plans that will save you money, or provide financial rewards.
Ask a broker about plans that give discounts using new fitness technologies, or plans with health incentives.  One example is "UnitedHealthcare Motion" which offers financial reimbursement incentives of up $1,500 per year.  These types of plans provide good opportunities for savings.  Also, make sure to inquire about the possibilities every year, since these types of programs will become more common over time.

One big selling point of an ACA backed plan is you cannot be declined coverage due to health issues.  Medical cost sharing plan companies can choose to decline coverage to any individual due to medical issues or history.  Also, certain ACA plan benefits and protections are mandated by law.  Some benefits, like maternity, for example, may be very important to you.  Your faith-based plan may not offer it.

There are also lifetime maximum benefit limitations with most any faith-based health plan.  ACA plans have no such limitation.

For these reasons, medical cost sharing plans are not the perfect alternative healthcare plan solution for everyone.  Whether or not a cost sharing plan makes good sense, depends upon your medical and financial circumstance.  Be certain to understand benefits and limitations thoroughly, before purchasing any faith-based , or traditional health insurance plan.

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

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Finding Short-Term Health Insurance.
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