Though healthshare programs have been around for decades, membership has skyrocketed in the last few years as people turn away from expensive healthcare in search of something more affordable and more suited to their individual needs. The health insurance marketplace has fewer and fewer options, more expensive than ever, and in many cases your health insurance will only be accepted by a narrow network of healthcare providers. It just doesn’t work anymore for most people.
Good news: health cost-sharing ministries are not insurance, but they do cover healthcare expenses.. Instead of paying wallet-draining premiums, members of healthshares pay a monthly contribution, which is then used to pay for qualifying medical expenses.
Now that you’re intrigued by the idea, let’s compare a few of the most popular healthshare ministries to decide what suits your needs best. The top six are: Alieracare, Liberty, Medi-share, Samaritan, Altrua, and Christian Health Ministries. These health care cost-sharing ministries are all exempt from the individual Obamacare penalty tax for not having insurance.
Limits on Pre-Existing Conditions
Most healthshare plans have restrictions on coverage of pre-existing conditions. All six on our list have some form of limitations on what pre-existing conditions they will cover. Visit their respective websites to see what (if any) pre-existing conditions are covered.
Unlike traditional insurance, many healthshare programs do not cover preventative care, as these plans tend to be marketed toward a healthier demographic. AlieraCare and Liberty do offer preventative care on some of their plans, while Medi-Share, Samaritan, Altrua, and Christian Health Ministries do not offer preventative coverage.
Members of healthshare plans are required to share some common beliefs, and – by law- are required to sign a statement of belief. There are secular ones, like AlieraCare and Liberty, both of which are open, while Medi-Share, Samaritan, Altrua, and Christian Health Ministries are all Christian-based ministries.
Depending on the health sharing organization, monthly contribution amounts may vary based on age, smoking status, family size – and the level of benefits in the program you choose. If you choose a plan that has higher out-of-pocket costs, your monthly contribution will be lower.
In most cases, premiums will be 50 – 70% less than the price of health insurance. Because health sharing plans are not regulated on a national level the same way health insurance is, there are not standardized plans among the different organizations. In fact, they are very different from each other, so study the plan you are considering carefully, and do not use the basic information below to make any purchasing decisions.
- AlieraCare: $142 – $490
- Medi-share: $135 – $470
- Altrua: $112 – $470
- Liberty: $149 – $244
- Samaritan: $200 – $495
- Christian Health Ministries: $45 – $150
Out of Pocket Costs
- AlieraCare: $5,000 – $10,000 per year
- Medi-share: $3,000 – $4,000 per year
- Altrua: $3,000 – $5,000 per year
- Liberty: $500 – $1,500 per incident
- Samaritan: $300 – $1,500 per incident
- Christian Health Ministries: $500 – $5,000 per incident
Better Business Bureau Rating (2017-2018)
- AlieraCare: A+
- Medi-share: A+
- Altrua: B
- Liberty: B-
- Samaritan: NA
- Christian Health Ministries: NA
This, of course, is only a brief overview that skims the surface. When deciding which healthshare is best for you, do your research. Check out our Frequently Asked Questions page about healthshares, and if you have further questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Note that a more current review can be seen on our blog post A Comparison of Popular Healthshare Plans.
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.