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 health insurance”, but more properly known as “health care sharing plans”, “healthshare”, “medical cost sharing”, or “health care sharing ministries”, these affordable plans make it easy to pay for health care while also supporting the needs of your fellow man.
At about half the cost of unsubsidized insurance, it’s easy to see why so many people are making the switch.
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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.
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.
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.
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.