As the cost of traditional healthcare continues to rise, alternatives such as Christian Healthcare Sharing programs are becoming more and more common. So what exactly are Christian Healthcare Sharing programs? Can they really be a viable substitute for traditional health insurance? How do they work? And what makes them different from traditional health insurance?
First Things First: What is Christian Healthshare?
Christian Healthshare programs, also known as cost sharing or medicare plans, offer faith-based programs offer various options for different religious denominations, as well as different tiers of coverage to fit almost any need. In Christian Healthshare programs, members of the church voluntarily share funds to cover one another’s eligible medical expenses. Members send in monthly ‘shares’ (much like premiums) which are distributed to or on behalf of other members to assist in medical expenses (similar to benefits payments) in accordance with program guidelines. Members can see who they are helping, and who is helping them, and can directly support and uplift one another in prayer, individually and in groups.
What is Traditional Health Insurance?
Traditional Health Insurance is coverage provided by a health insurance company that guarantees the payout of benefits for any ililness, injury, death or dismemberment for a family or individual, regardless of the reason. It is a contract between you and your insurer, and therefore you are agreeing to pay a certain amount of money every month for a certain array of coverage.
So What’s the Main Difference?
It’s important to note that Christian Healthcare Sharing programs are not the same as traditional healthcare insurance, and are not legally recognized as such. This means that what is and is not covered can be voted on and tailored by the community, to ensure that any medical needs being covered are in line with their religious values.
Although the way the program functions is similar to the operation of traditional insurance, there are some significant differences in the way Christian Healthcare Sharing programs work. Some of these differences include:
- Compensation guarantees: traditional insurance companies are held to the guarantee that they will compensate their members in return for a monthly premium payment. When it comes to Christian Healthcare Sharing programs, this guarantee does not exist.
- A legal contract: when enrolled in traditional healthcare insurance, there is a legally binding contract between the insurer and the insured. Christian Healthcare Sharing programs make it very clear that participation is on a voluntary basis only, and that there is no contract binding anyone to any payment or payout.
Because it is a faith-based service that is not considered traditional health insurance, Christian medical cost sharing is not regulated by the state, and coverage for treatments and procedures are up to the discretion of the church. Certain claims that go against religious beliefs are usually not covered under such plans. Examples of this may include a denial of coverage for things like birth control, abortions, injuries related to drug or alchohol abuse, or complications that arise from an unhealthy lifestyle, such as smoking or excessive weight gain.
On the plus side, health and lifestyle choices that are in line with the teachings of Christ, including maintaining a healthy weight and abstaining from drugs and alcohol, can potentially afford members up to a 20% discount on their monthly shares. The freedom that Christian Healthcare Sharing programs are afforded by not being bound to the regulations of traditional health insurance result in much lower monthly costs for individuals and families who need better affordability. On average, families can expect to pay around $300 to $500 per month, which is a massive savings when compared to the average unsubsidized cost of traditional insurance.
Don’t wait to get started. Talk to a friendly specialist who can assist you today!