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Are Healthcare Sharing Ministries better than Insurance?

Are Healthcare Sharing Ministries better than Insurance?

If you’ve put in time looking for less expensive health insurance alternatives compared to what’s available through the ACA, you might have come across healthcare sharing ministries (HRAs). Healthcare sharing ministries are cost-sharing programs or private healthcare systems (PHCS) that are set up as faith-based 501c 3 not-for-profit organizations. Members share religious beliefs and values. 

Some of the more well-known healthcare sharing ministries include: 

  • Christian Healthcare Ministries
  • Medi-Share, Samaritan Ministries
  • Liberty HealthShare
  • United Refuah HealthShare
  • MCS Medical Cost Sharing
  • Altrua HealthShare
  • Freedom HealthShare
  • Trinity HealthShare

How do Healthcare Sharing Ministries Work? 

Members contribute a fixed dollar amount each month to their own savings account. When a member is ill and needs help paying their medical expenses, the person submits a request for the amount needed to cover the bill. If approved (by committee vote), the request is paid to the provider or to the individual is reimbursed if they paid out of pocket by using funds from other members’ savings accounts. 

Just like traditional health insurance policies, there is usually a set amount that each family or individual must pay before submitting requests to the program. Similar to a deductible. 

Benefits of Healthcare Sharing Ministries 

  • Can be cost-effective because of plan flexibility options 
  • Membership cannot be terminated for developing a medical condition 
  • There are no annual or lifetime limits 
  • Memberships are not affected by the state of residence or employment status 
  • A viable option for those who are looking for an alternative to the ACA Marketplace 

Downsides of Healthcare Sharing Ministries 

  • Because healthcare sharing ministries are not considered insurance, consumers have little or no protection if a claim is refused, coverage is denied, or the ministry goes bankrupt 
  • There are restrictions and payment caps relating to pre-existing conditions 
  • Healthcare sharing ministries can’t be used with Health Savings Accounts or reimbursement plans like the qualified small employer HRA (QSEHRA)  
  • Healthcare sharing ministries are not tax-deductible  

Alternatives to Healthcare Sharing Ministries 

If you’re looking at healthcare sharing ministries because you’re looking for an alternative to the ACA marketplace, you have other options. Private health insurance outside the ACA marketplace offers many affordable options with similar healthcare sharing flexibility, but with the added benefits of security and tax deductibility. 

The best thing to do if you're looking for a new health insurance policy or looking to make changes is to get in touch with a qualified health insurance agent. They'll help you assess your needs and walk you through your best options.

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