If you’re a member of the Christian community, then you have probably heard about special health care options available through your church. Sometimes called “Christian ministry health insurance”, but more properly known as “health care sharing plans”, ” healthshare”, “medical cost sharing”, or “health care sharing ministries”, learn about the pros and cons of these affordable plans and how to get a quote.
At about half the cost of unsubsidized insurance, it’s easy to see why so many people are making the switch.
What is Christian Health Insurance?
When People Ask about Christian Health Insurance, They Are Actually Referring to Christian Health Care Sharing Ministries.
The term “Christian health insurance” is slightly misleading, because in reality, it’s not actually insurance at all. Rather, it’s a legal way for like-minded groups to pool their resources to share the burden of health care costs.
Here is how health sharing plans are different from what you’re used to:
- Healthshare plans are not federally regulated. They are run by Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCMS) or other private, membership-based sharing organizations. That means no more insurance companies to deal with, and no more federal mandates.
- Health sharing plans are more affordable. In most cases, health sharing plans are about half the monthly cost of unsubsidized insurance.
- Most healthshare plans are faith based. These plans usually require a statement of faith in order to join. Health sharing organizations can be specific to a certain faith (i.e., Catholic, Lutheran, Jewish) or can be more non-denominational in nature. Either way, you know that your contributions are supporting the health needs of like-minded people.
- Healthshare plans can sometimes work alongside a Health Savings Account (HSA). By pairing your healthshare plan with an HSA-qualified Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) plan, it’s possible to sign up for an HSA. These tax-advantaged accounts let you save even more money for healthcare, and are particularly rewarding for individuals who don’t use their plan much.
- There are often no provider networks to worry about. Many health sharing plans will share the cost of services rendered at any hospital or care facility across the country. Examples of popular health sharing programs that are based on Christian principles include OneShare Health, and Covenant HealthShare.
Get a Christian Health Insurance Quote
What is the Christian health insurance “Statement of Faith”?
If your health sharing organization is affiliated with a particular religion, then you might be asked to provide a statement of faith in order to gain membership. This can be as simple as a pre-written document with something like, “I attest to a personal relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ”. In some cases, a church leader may be asked to verify the statement.
If your health sharing organization is not faith-based, you still might be required to sign a statement of beliefs or statement of principles. This can include things like “I believe in improving the lives of other human beings” and “I share a faith in the strength of my community”.
For both faith-based and non-faith-based plans, the member agrees to reject the use of illegal substances and unlawful activities.
Do I have to be a Christian to qualify for a health sharing plan?
Most health sharing plans are faith-based, and most are Christian, but some are non-denominational and one is Jewish. There are also some healthshare options available that are not religious-based, and do not require a statement of faith.
Non-faith-based health sharing plans for everyone
Sedera is one medical cost sharing community that is not associated with a specific religion or creed. Instead, Sedera asks members to sign a statement of principles, which is more about healthy living and community-minded decision making.
Mpowering Benefits is another option with no religious components. All members must agree to the Principles of Membership, but there is no requirement to profess specific religious beliefs.
How does healthcare cost sharing work?
As the number of health care sharing organizations continues to grow, so does the number of options. Some healthshare plans appear just like regular insurance, while others are a bit different.
In all cases, however, health sharing is a way to pay for large or unforeseen medical expenses. The payout for these expenses is usually based on a pre-established rate, so it’s easy to know how much of the cost will be shared.
The downside of this is that health sharing is less comprehensive. More and more plans are starting to offer preventive care services, but there is no minimum coverage requirement like there is for marketplace insurance plans.
If you’re relatively healthy and looking to save some money, health sharing can be a great option. However, if you have larger medical needs or need ongoing treatment, you might be better off with a more conventional plan.
Your Personal Benefits Manager can help you decide if health sharing is a good option for you and your family.
Pros and Cons of Christian Health Insurance
- Its not really insurance! That means its not subject to the same regulations, and is much less expensive!
- Christian health sharing is more affordable than traditional insurance (as low as $105 per month)
- Health sharing ministries are built upon faith and community, not profit
- Some healthshare programs are open to members of any faith
- Most healthshare plans now include telemedicine and mental health services
- Healthshare plans can now be paired with Direct Primary Care memberships, giving the member low-cost protection against both primary and emergency medical bills.
- Healthshare plans can be an effective way for small companies (< 50 employees) to provide a group health benefit for a fraction of the cost of insurance.
- Christian healthshare plans are not health insurance, which means that the consumer has less no federal-level protection if a claim isn’t paid or the company goes out of business.
- Healthshare plans aren’t required to cover a list of essential preventive care benefits the way that insurance plans are*.
- Most healthshare plans have restrictions or waiting periods when it comes to previously existing conditions.
- Healthshare companies can make their own rules regarding which medical costs can be shared. This can make comparing healthshare plans more difficult than comparing insurance plans.
- Healthcare sharing plans do not qualify as minimum essential coverage (MEC) when it comes to the ACA employer mandate.
*Some plans do include primary care cost sharing … Check out the Elite + plan for netWell or the DPC-compatible Direct plan from HSA Secure.
The Best Christian Health Sharing Ministries
MediShare is one of the oldest and largest Christian health sharing ministries in the country. The MediShare Statement of Faith ensures that all members live a healthy lifestyle inspired by Biblical teachings.
MediShare has some of the highest customer reviews, with an overall satisfaction rate of 98%. Individual MediShare memberships can be as low as $135 per month and includes access to telemedicine and a dental discount program.
Healthshare plans with OneShare are as low as $115 per month. They have three options to choose from, including Catastrophic, Classic, and Complete. Each option comes with different monthly contributions, member responsibility amounts, and more.
All OneShare plans include access to telehealth and mental health services, even the low-cost Catastrophic option.
The unique thing about Altrua healthshare plans is that they provide 6 “pooled’ doctor office visits per member. This gives families flexible access to their doctor when they need it. For example, if one family member develops a health issue, they can use more than 6 visits if needed, without having to worry about paying more.
Altrua Ruby is perhaps the most affordable healthshare plan on the market, at only $105 per month for an individual.
Memberships with netWell are typically more expensive than competing plans, but they can also offer much better health protection and additional services. For example, the Elite + plan includes cost sharing for both primary and emergency medical care, something that is relatively rare in a healthshare plan.
netWell also offers a catastrophic option that is around $144 per month, with additional discounts for using the netWell provider network.
HSA Secure’s HSA-qualified healthshare option allows members to open and maintain a Health Savings Account. All they need to do is also enroll in a minimum essential coverage plan (MEC) and they can start saving tax-free money for future health costs.
HSA Secure Direct is an even more popular plan option. It’s designed to work alongside a Direct Primary Care Plan, or DPC. Pairing a healthshare with a DPC membership is an effective way to boost your plan’s protective power while still saving big over traditional insurance.
Compare More Christian Healthshare Companies
The above list is some of our favorite and most reliable health sharing companies, but it is not exhaustive.
To read about all the healthshare companies on the market, and compare them side by side, check out our new resource, The Best Healthshare Plans Comparison Guide 2024.
Is Christian health insurance right for me?
Health care sharing plans are an effective way to slash you monthly costs while also contributing to the well-being of your fellow man. But that doesn’t mean that these plans are a good option for everybody.
If you have pre-existing conditions or more complicated care needs, for instance, you might be better off with a more conventional marketplace insurance plan.
And it is always important to remember that health care cost sharing plans are not actually Christian health insurance, because they are not insurance. Thus they do not have the same regulatory requirements or financial assets that insurance companies have.
Your Personal Benefits Manager is well-versed in the different health sharing organizations out there. This includes both faith-based and non-denominational options. Your PBM can even help you set up your health sharing plan to be HSA-qualified, boosting the plan’s value even more.
Call 800-913-0172 to schedule a no-cost appointment.
You can also view the story of this post.
Wiley is President of HSA for America. He believes that consumers should have choice and price transparency, so they can make the best healthcare decisions for their needs. Read more about Wiley on his Bio page.