Healthcare sharing plans, also known as Christian healthcare sharing ministries, are not your average health insurance plan. These plans are not available to everyone; they’re only an option for people with a common set of beliefs and specific religious principles. Despite their restrictive nature, healthcare sharing plans are quickly growing in popularity. The number of healthcare sharing plan members has grown by almost 40% over the past two years. A recent survey found that nearly a quarter of Americans were aware of these programs and believed they might be a good fit for them and their family. Suppose you’re considering joining a healthcare sharing plan as an alternative to traditional health insurance. In that case, this article will walk you through everything you need to know about these plans and whether or not joining one is right.
What is a Healthcare Sharing Plan?
A healthcare sharing plan program is a type of cooperative health insurance. In these plans, people who are part of the same sharing network pay each other’s medical bills. Members of a healthcare sharing plan will agree to pay a certain monthly amount towards their expected medical costs. When one member of the plan has a medical expense, the other members will chip in to cover that cost. Healthcare sharing plans differ from most types of insurance in that you don’t buy a policy and then get reimbursed if you have an accident or get sick. Instead, you pay a monthly fee into the plan and then get access to the money you’ve contributed when you need medical care.
How Do Healthcare Sharing Plans Work?
Each healthcare sharing plan works slightly differently, although most have the same basic structure. Each plan has a network of members who share financial risks. When someone in the network has an unexpected medical expense, the other members help cover the cost. If you’re part of the plan, you’ll pay a monthly fee to be a network member. When someone else in the network needs to get medical care, you’ll pay a portion of their cost, and they’ll pay a portion of your cost. For example, let’s say you have $100 in your health savings account, and an accident costs $200. The other members of the healthcare sharing plan will each chip in $50 to cover your medical expenses. In exchange for paying for your portion of the medical bills, you’ll be able to withdraw the $100 you put into your HSA, which is tax-free. This doesn’t mean you’re being reimbursed for the $200 you spent. Instead, you are putting $100 into your HSA and withdrawing that $100 tax-free.
Who Can Join a Healthcare Sharing Plan?
Healthcare sharing plans are not available to everyone. You’ll need to meet certain criteria to join a plan. Most healthcare sharing plans require their members to be Christians and agree with the particular religious beliefs of the plan- Like and respect one another- Live in the United States- Be a part of a church that endorses the plan- Not be eligible to receive government-funded healthcare like Medicaid or Medicare. Healthcare sharing plans also require that you be willing to abide by the plan’s rules, which generally require you to be healthy and avoid risky activities, like skydiving, that are likely to result in injury. If you meet these criteria, you can join a healthcare sharing plan.
Benefits of Healthcare Sharing Plans
Healthcare sharing plans offer many benefits that make them a good alternative to traditional health insurance. – Healthier members: Because members are healthier than average, healthcare sharing plans provide low premiums for their members. – Tax advantages: Healthcare sharing plans are exempt from federal taxes, meaning you’ll pay less in taxes each year if you join a plan. – No pre-existing conditions: You don’t have to worry about being denied health insurance or charged a higher price because of a pre-existing condition. – Lower monthly costs: Healthcare sharing plans are less expensive than traditional health insurance. – No limits on coverage: You don’t have to worry about hitting a cap on your coverage and having your insurance stop paying for your medical bills. – No lifetime or annual limits: You’re not limited in the number of medical expenses your insurance will cover during your lifetime. – No deductibles: Unlike traditional health insurance, you don’t have to pay a deductible before your insurance kicks in. – No copays: You don’t have to pay a copay when receiving medical care. – No premiums: You don’t have to pay monthly premiums with a healthcare sharing plan. – Little to no out-of-pocket spending: With healthcare sharing plans, you don’t have to spend money on medical bills even if you have a high medical expense. – No coverage gaps: When you have a gap in your coverage, you’re not responsible for paying medical bills.
The Bottom Line
Healthcare sharing plans are a type of medical coverage different from traditional health insurance. You must meet certain religious criteria to join a plan. These plans may be a good option for some people. Before joining a healthcare sharing plan, make sure it’s the best option for you and your family.