Alabama doesn’t offer many choices when it comes to individual and family health insurance. Blue Cross/Blue Shield dominates the market in most areas of Alabama, with only sporadic competition from Bright Health in certain areas. In this post, you’ll learn all about the best Healthshare plans in Alabama which are a great alternative to traditional health insurance.
Best Healthshare Plans in Alabama
As a result of one health insurance practically owning the state, Alabama residents don’t benefit from much competition. Choices are limited. The two companies in the market have jacked up premiums accordingly.
That’s a big problem – especially for people who don’t qualify for an Obamacare subsidy on their health insurance. The people with big subsidies don’t have an incentive to control costs: Blue Cross and Bright Health know they’ll get their money from Uncle Sam.
Ultimately, that means from you.
Unsubsidized health insurance policy owners wind up left holding the bag, subsidizing the premiums for everyone else.
Fortunately, the people of Alabama have a choice.
There’s a better way.
A way that allows you to opt out of Obamacare.
A way that allows you the freedom to choose your own doctor, free from HMO “care networks” and other outside restrictions.
A way that still helps protect you and your family from the financial shock of unexpected medical costs.
And one that actually saves you money! Thousands of dollars per month!
What is Health Sharing?
Healthshare plans are a low-cost alternative to traditional health insurance approaches. While not technically insurance, healthshare plans allow members to protect themselves against large or unexpected medical costs.
Health sharing is a proven strategy that allows patients to save as much as 40 or 50% off of current unsubsidized premiums under the Affordable Care Act, or other health insurance plans available in the individual market.
That translates to thousands of dollars in annual savings for a typical family, compared to unsubsidized ACA-qualified health insurance plans.
How Does Health Sharing Work?
With health sharing plans, members make a monthly contribution towards a shared “pool” of resources. When a member incurs a qualified medical expense, they can be reimbursed from this pool. In other words, healthshare plans make it possible to share the cost of medical expenses with other members of your church or community.
Like traditional health insurance, healthshare plans come with a monthly fee. Most plans also have an Individual Sharing Amount (ISA) that must be paid by the member before medical bills can be shared. Different healthshare organizations may use different terms for this amount.
Do I have to be a Christian to join a Health Share Plan?
Many health sharing organizations are affiliated with religious traditions, though most don’t require you to be a member of any specific religious institution. You will normally have to affirm the organization’s statement of faith, belief, or ethics, however, in order to join.
However, in today’s market, there are plenty of health sharing options available to anyone, whether overtly religious or not.
Compare Pricing on the Best Healthshare Plans Available
The Best Healthshare Plans in Alabama
Here are the best, most highly-rated health sharing plans currently available in Alabama.
With a powerful balance of benefits and cost, netWell Healthshare frequently represents the best value overall for many Alabama residents.
netWell offers three different membership levels. Advantage is the catastrophic options, with a monthly contribution cost of $195 a month, providing protection for ER visits, hospitalization, in/outpatient surgery, and lab costs. Superior offers primary care protection, without the ER and hospitalization. The Elite + is the most popular plan, offering cost sharing for both primary care and emergency care.
Pre-Existing Conditions: 24 month waiting period for pre-existing conditions. Certain more serious conditions may have a 2-year or 4-year waiting period, or a lifetime exclusion on related hospitalizations and surgeries.
Contribution Amounts [Individual]: $144 – $269
Provider Networks: Choose any doctor you wish. Discounts are available with netWell’s exclusive provider network.
Statement of Faith: Members must sign a Statement of Religious and Ethical Beliefs including belief in God, the Bible, the Power of Prayer, and the moral responsibility to share each other’s burdens.
HSA Option: Not available.
Perks: The Elite + membership comes with a large suite of discount services, including dental, vision and LASIK, diabetic supplies, gym memberships, and lots more.
With low contribution amounts, 24/7 telemedicine, and 100% shared preventative care, OneShare health is an excellent choice in Alabama. “OneShare Catastrophic” is popular because it offers both ER and Hospital Care, in addition to a great telemedicine program that includes mental health support.
OneShare recently increased its pricing, so they are no longer a low-cost provider in the Alabama market. But they enjoy great customer satisfaction ratings, and the plan packs in a lot of benefits.
Pre-Existing Conditions: Some limitations.
Contribution Amounts [Individual]: $115 – $239
Provider Networks: Uses Multiplan/PHCS Network
Statement of Faith: Must sign a ‘light’ statement of faith
HSA Option: NONE
Perks: Dental discount; diabetic care and supplies; lab discount, telemedicine w/ mental health services.
MPB Health is very forward-thinking when it comes to consumer-directed health care approaches. Consumer-directed health care forces consumers to have more “skin in the game.” But they provide mechanisms for patients to save up money in advance so they can buy health care services tax-free.
For example, high-deductible health plans, coupled with health savings accounts are two tools used in tandem in consumer-directed health care.
These consumer-directed approaches allow consumers to take more direct personal ownership of their health care experience. They can make decisions on their own, without being limited by outside payors telling them what doctors they can use.
MPB Health builds on the consumer-directed health care concept by creating an HSA-compatible health sharing product, for example. They also let members use whatever health provider they want – while not paying as much as with an Obamacare plan.
“MPB Direct” is designed to work alongside a Direct Primary Care membership to further reduce the monthly cost while adding critical preventive benefits.
Pre-Existing Conditions: Accepted, with limits.
Contribution Amounts [Individual]: $170 – $295
Provider Networks: Any doctor or hospital
Statement of Faith: Not required
Perks: Mental health counseling included. DPC and HSA-compatible plans available
With four different membership levels (Diamond, Emerald, Sapphire, and Ruby) and a hyper-simple signup process, Altrua is one of the easiest ways to switch to health sharing. Altrua’s Ruby membership is only $113 per month, and includes 6 pooled doctor office visits per member.
Pre-Existing Conditions: Two to Five year waiting period
Contribution Amounts [Individual]: $113 – $297
Statement of Faith: Must sign a statement of standards
HSA Option: None
Perks: Unlimited telemedicine and 6 pooled doctor office visits per member [all membership levels].
MediShare is the most explicitly Christian healthshare program available. They have a strongly worded faith statement, and reserve the right to check with your minister to make sure you regularly attend church.
However, they also have some of the highest member reviews and boast a 98% customer satisfaction rate year after year. Medi-Share’s 25 year track record makes them one of the most reliable healthcare sharing options available.
Pre-Existing Conditions: Considered, but not guaranteed to be accepted
Contribution Amounts [Individual]: $135 – $470
Provider Networks: PHCS network
Statement of Faith: Must sign (and possibly have verified) a statement of faith
HSA Option: NONE
Perks: Telemedicine; dental, vision and RX savings. A 98% customer satisfaction rate
Individuals who attend church regularly should consider Samaritan. They can boast over 64,000 member households, which adds up to about $23 million per month that is eligible for sharing.
*2022 Update: Samaritan’s new “Given” plan option is currently under beta but not yet open to the public. This plan is reported to include new co-sharing options with low Annual Unshakeable Amounts.
Pre-Existing Conditions: Not eligible for regular sharing
Contribution Amounts [Individual]: $200 – $495
Provider Networks: PHCS
Statement of Faith: Strict; must attend church regularly
Perks: $250,000 maternity limit; 120-day supply of medication is shareable
Best Alabama Healthshare Plans for Special Circumstances
No healthshare plan is an ideal one-size-fits-all solution. They all involve trade offs. The best overall plan may not be the best plan for people in particular circumstances or with specific health care needs.
Here, we take a look at the best health share plans available in Alabama for people with special circumstances: Tobacco use, maternity, pre-existing conditions, health savings account fans, and direct primary care plan users.
Best Alabama Healthshare Plan for Pre-existing Conditions: Christian Health Share Ministries (Gold level and above)
This health sharing organization is one of the only ministries in the market that will consider sharing expenses for pre-existing conditions during the first year of membership.
Only members of the Gold tier and above qualify.
Bills incurred in the first year of membership for the first year of membership are sharable up to $15,000.
In the second year, bills related to pre-existing conditions are shareable up to a cumulative $25,000 ($15,000 for year one, and another $10,000 during year two.)
During the third year, bills related to pre-existing conditions are shareable up to a cumulative $50,000 total ($15,000 for the first year, $10,000 for year two, and another $25,000 during year three.
After the third year of membership, the condition is no longer considered pre-existing, and is eligible for sharing along with all other eligible medical expenses.
Best Healthshare Plans in Alabama for Smokers: netWell
netWell Is one of a handful of health sharing options that accepts smokers, though tobacco users must contribute an additional $40 per month compared to other non-smoking members in the same plan.
The $40 per month additional contribution is lower than some other organizations, and smokers qualify for the full $1 million lifetime limit on health sharing benefits.
In contrast, other health share companies, including our runner-up for the Best Healthshare Option for Smokers category, limit their sharing to $50,000 for tobacco users age 50 and older.
The downside: Pre-existing pregnancy is a disqualifying condition for new members.
Runner-up – Best Healthshare Plan in Alabama for Smokers: MPB Health
For members who use tobacco and are 50 years of age or more, there will be additional sharing restrictions. According to the member guidelines, smokers of this age will only qualify for $50,000 worth of sharing for the following conditions:
- Heart conditions
- Certain pulmonary diseases
For cost-sensitive smokers who are under 50, however, MPB Health may be a solid choice.
Best Healthshare Plans in Alabama for Maternity/Pregnancy: MPB Health
In our view, the best health sharing plan for soon-to-be mothers in Alabama is MPB/Zion. The reason: There is no cap on sharing benefits. So if your pregnancy has complications, or your baby needs time in the neonatal ICU, you can be confident that MPB and Zion will be there for you.
It doesn’t have the lowest out-of-pocket maximum. In fact, you’ll be on the hook for double your initial unshared amount (IUA) before the plan’s maternity benefits will kick in.
But you can plan for a $20,000 event. You can take an extra job and deal with it. There’s no recovering from a $400,000 NICU stay or an extended hospitalization for either the mother or the child. MPB/Zion has by far the best plan for catastrophic maternity events.
We also like Medi-Share, which has a $125,000 limit on sharing, which is more than enough for the vast majority of pregnancies. Member responsibility is capped at $12,000, with some plans as low as $3,000, before plan maternity benefits kick in.
Samaritan also has a generous health sharing cap of $250,000 for pregnancies. But their strict membership criteria will exclude a lot of people, as they require members to verify regular church attendance. Nevertheless, if you qualify and regularly attend a Christian church (excluding LDS, Jehovah’s Witness, Scientology and some others), Samaritan is an option worth considering.
The OneShare Health Maternity plan is also good, with a $5,000 sharing benefit for normal pregnancies, $8,000 for C-sections, and $50,000 for pregnancies with health-threatening complications. Member out-of-pocket responsibility is capped at $5,000.
You should also consider waiting periods, too. Health share plans typically won’t cover maternity benefits right away. There’s a waiting period for new members, which can range from 90 days to months.
Best Healthshare Plan in Alabama for Health Savings Accounts: MPB Health
The best health share organization in Alabama for fans of health savings accounts (HSAs), hands down, is MPB Health. In fact, MPB is the only large health sharing organization in America that has fielded a health sharing plan specifically designed to provide the minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
This qualifies it technically as a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP), and therefore allows members to make contributions to a health savings account.
Best Alabama Health Share Plan for Direct Primary Care: DPC Direct
Direct primary care plans, or DPC plans, are exploding in popularity in recent years. With DPC, you don’t use insurance at all to access routine care from your primary care doctor.
Instead, you pay a monthly flat subscription fee – similar to a health club membership – that allows access to as many primary care visits as you and your covered family members need.
There are no out of pocket costs for primary care visits and routine and preventive services. Everything is included in that one predictable monthly fee.
DPC doctors don’t even take insurance patients. Insurance forces them to take on massive administrative overhead that provides no value to patients. With the reduced overhead, DPC doctors can take on a much reduced patient load, and can spend more time with each patient.
DPC plans have no restrictions on pre-existing conditions. Waiting times for an appointment are much shorter than with insurance-based practices, and same-day and next-day appointments are routinely available.
As a result, patients tend to enjoy a superior health care experience with DPC plans.
MPB Health has rolled out a health sharing plan, DPC Direct, that is specifically designed to dovetail with direct primary care, without the member paying twice for benefits.
How To Choose an Alabama Health Sharing Plan
One of the good things about Alabama is that regulations are generally friendly to health sharing. Nearly every health sharing plan with a national footprint does business in Alabama.
So while Alabama residents don’t have much choice when it comes to Affordable Care Act-qualified health insurance plans, you have plenty of choices when it comes to health sharing plans!
So how do you choose one that’s right for you? First, think about your priorities. What is most important to you in a health sharing ministry?
You can start with the organization’s Statement of Faith, of course. That may winnow out a few choices for you.
Next, think about your monthly budget. What can you afford to pay in monthly contributions?
This isn’t usually a problem for people switching over from unsubsidized traditional health insurance plans, because health sharing routinely saves these families thousands of dollars every year.
Many people take some of these savings and invest them in enrolling in a DPC plan, described above, or selecting an HSA-compatible health sharing plan from MPB Health, and contributing to an HSA.
Are you in one of the special circumstances described above? For example, are you expecting or do you plan to have a child in the next year or two? Do you have pre-existing conditions? That may narrow down your choices quickly.
You should also consider waiting periods on surgeries or cancer. Health sharing organizations frequently set limits on sharing for new members.
If you need help selecting the best healthshare plan for your particular needs, schedule a time to chat and we’ll get you into the best plan.
Here are some additional articles on healthsharing programs: Why Are Insurance Agents Enrolling More People in Medical Cost Sharing Plans? | Is Health Sharing Tax Deductible? – Updated for 2023
Here are some additional pages related to this article: All You Need To Know About Healthshare Plans | Answers to the Most Frequently asked Questions about Health Sharing Plans and Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs)
Whitney Kline is a Personal Benefits Manager (PBM) for HSA for America. As a PBM, she helps individuals and small businesses find money-saving alternatives to traditional health insurance – including HSA plans, health sharing programs, DPC memberships, and other innovative solutions.