Over that last several month’s people have received notices in the mail that their ACA insurance policy is being increased, yet again. With the future of health insurance in limbo, it is no wonder that people are looking for alternatives to the Affordability Care Act options.
What most are unaware of is that there are options available to them. While these options do have their caveats, they can be more affordable than ACA insurance. That option is called a Healthshare Plan, also called Health Cost Sharing Ministries.
What is a Health Cost Sharing Ministry?
First, a Health Cost Sharing Ministry is not health insurance. Simply put, it is a ministry that pools membership dues that any member can use for their medical bills. The members of the program all share in the cost of each other’s health expenses. Health Cost Sharing Ministries are non-profit organizations that limit budgets for advertising and administration costs. This helps members with lower costs and the assurance that their dues are not being wasted on marketing.
How Health Cost Sharing Ministries Work
One of the caveats is applying for membership. These are Christian-based organizations and require a certain mindset for acceptance. A few of the qualifications required are:
- A statement of Christian belief. Some may be more open to a wider variety of religious beliefs.
- An acceptance that the individual is responsible for health and helping others in need.
- An acceptance of responsibility for their own If you lead an unhealthy lifestyle, then you can be denied membership.
- Refrain from tobacco use.
- Refrain from illicit drug use.
- Refrain from the abuse of alcohol; some accept moderate drinking.
- Abstinence from premarital and extramarital sex.
- Preexisting conditions can be accepted and are either phased in, or an agreement is made to improve the conditions through lifestyle changes if they are due to poor habits.
There are four primary HCSMs to choose from. Each have common threads, while some have a different manner of doing the same things. They all have a variety of plans that you can fit to your financial need.
So why choose a Health Cost Sharing Ministry?
- Affordable Care Act policies are too expensive. – The unaffordable insurance you had to pay last year almost broke you. You must decide if you are going to bite the bullet and pay more, take the penalty at the end of the year, or make a change that will solve both of those problems.
- You missed the Open Enrollment deadline. -This year the deadline for enrolling in an ACA plan was cut in half. Once that date has come and gone you are stuck; uninsured and having to pay the penalty. That is unless you can find an alternative that is in compliance with the rules of the ACA. The good news is that HCSM members are exempt from the individual mandate outlined by the ACA and there is no restrictive enrollment period.
- You need an affordable alternative to temporary insurance. -Perhaps you only need insurance for a brief amount of time. You have considered temporary insurance policies, but they are; expensive; do not cover pre-existing conditions, wellness visits, or prescription drugs; and they do not count as the minimum requirement as laid out by the ACA. They limit you to three months and cannot be renewed. A HCSM is an affordable option, you can leave membership anytime, and while there are some restrictions on pre-existing conditions, they are phased in over time.
- You are just plain tired of the health insurance red tape. -You are tired of all the hoops you have to jump through just to reach your insurance coverage, or you find that the doctor you choose is not “in-network.” HCSMs can help you with those concerns.
- Deductibles -HCSMs have no deductibles per se. There is a first dollar amount that members agree not to share. This dollar amount is far less than the crazy deductibles insurance companies expect you to pay.
- Networks -HCSMs have no networks. You can choose any doctor you want to see. You may be concerned about your doctor accepting an HCSM. Think of it this way; you have now become a cash paying patient. Your doctor does not have to deal with the headaches of dealing with the insurance company to get paid.
- Pay or be canceled -If you miss a payment with your insurance company, you are quickly canceled. With an HCSM you have a grace period. If you miss a payment date, you still have until the end of the month. If you miss that, you are not canceled, you are labeled as inactive, then you have 60 days to bring your membership up to date to reactivate.
- You are a Christian and have like-minded beliefs. -Finally, you may have a concern that your membership dues are being used as they should. You may also have reservations about the money you contribute is being used in funding procedures that you are uncomfortable being part of.
HCSMs are Christian based. The hold to certain standards of faith that allow those with deeply held beliefs to know that their membership dues are not going to fund anything against the higher moral standard set by the Bible and its teaching.
HCSMs also help individuals maintain a healthier lifestyle. They promote temperance and self-accountability for health concerns. They have programs that will aid members in their efforts to remain healthy.
While Health Cost Sharing Ministries are not for everyone, they offer their members the sense of community that has been lost from medicine for a long time. The affordability, ease of use, and lack of red tape are attractive to everyone. If you can adhere to the standard of living they promote, then a Health Cost Sharing Ministry is the right plan for you.
For more information concerning Healthshare Plans visit healthsharing.com, or call 1-800-948-4256, and speak directly to one of our friendly and qualified representatives.