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How Do Christian Health Share Plans Work?
Christian health care plans, also known as faith-based health care sharing plans, are not traditional health insurance plans. They are alternative forms of health care coverage that involve a group of individuals who share a common set of religious beliefs coming together to share the cost of their medical expenses. The members of the group typically make regular payments, called “shares,” into a fund that is used to pay for the medical expenses of the members. The amount of money that each member contributes is determined by the specific plan and can vary based on factors such as age and family size. These plans are not regulated by the government and are not required to follow the same rules as traditional health insurance plans, so it’s important to understand the details of the plan before joining.
Benefits Of Christian Health Plans
Healthcare sharing ministries offer a unique set of advantages for those looking for an alternative to traditional health insurance. Some of these advantages include:
- Coverage for qualified adoption and funeral expenses, which may not be covered by traditional insurance plans.
- Annual financial stability evaluations conducted by independent accounting firms to ensure the financial stability of the ministry.
- A viable option for those who are seeking an alternative to shopping on the ACA Marketplace.
- Cost-effective monthly contributions based on program options that are tailored to each family’s specific needs.
- Guaranteed coverage for pre-existing medical conditions, with no risk of termination of membership.
- The absence of annual or lifetime limits on coverage, providing peace of mind for members with significant medical expenses.
Disadvantages Of Christian Health Share Plans
Healthcare sharing ministries, while offering an alternative to traditional health insurance, also have a number of disadvantages. Some of these include:
- Faith-based membership rules that may exclude individuals who do not adhere to specific religious beliefs or practices.
- Requirements for regular church attendance, abstinence from tobacco and illegal drugs, and affirmation of a specific faith statement.
- Limited legal protections for consumers in the event of denied claims, unpaid claims, or ministry bankruptcy.
- Treasury letter 2016-0051 confirms that healthcare sharing ministries do not qualify as minimum essential coverage (MEC) under the ACA’s employer mandate.
- Restrictions and payment caps for pre-existing conditions which may lead to additional costs for members.
- Certain pre-existing conditions such as diabetes may require an additional monthly payment along with standard membership fees.
Christian Health Plans: How Much Do They Cost?
Healthcare sharing ministries (HCSM) are an alternative to traditional health insurance, which can be an appealing option for some individuals and families, especially those who are looking for a more cost-effective option. However, it’s important to note that while HCSMs can be less expensive than traditional health insurance plans, they also come with some limitations and exclusions.
One of the major disadvantages of HCSMs is that the cost of joining a plan or program can vary depending on several factors such as the size of the household, age, marital status, location, and the annual unshared amount. These factors can cause the cost of joining an HCSM plan to be higher for some individuals, especially for older members or those living in more expensive areas.
Additionally, members should be aware that HCSMs may not provide complete coverage like traditional health insurance plans. The lower cost of these plans is a trade-off for the less comprehensive coverage. The members are responsible for paying the cost of their medical expenses up to a certain limit, known as the annual unshared amount, and the plan will cover the remaining amount.
So, while HCSMs can be a cost-effective option for some individuals, it’s important to understand the limitations of the coverage and to carefully consider the specific needs of your household before making a decision.