UHSM – HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS

Affordable Health Coverage

Family with affordable health coverage

 

Health insurance plans can be expensive and rigid, but Christian healthcare sharing programs can offer a more cost-effective and flexible approach to securing health benefits.

 

 

Family with affordable health coverage

With health care expenses and insurance costs rising, many Americans may be searching for a more affordable and flexible alternative, and Christian health care sharing ministries may be a viable option.

Healthcare in the US is expensive, and the cost of traditional health insurance is prohibitive for many American families.

Typical health insurance plans come with their own list of costs and are not without their limitations and flaws. That’s why more and more Americans are seeking out alternatives to traditional health insurance plans that offer more affordability and flexibility. Christian health share programs may fit the bill.

Current State of Healthcare Costs

The cost of healthcare in the US has increased dramatically over the decades. In fact, the US spends more on healthcare than other nations without achieving markedly better health outcomes. Healthcare costs are growing at an unsustainable pace.

While the steady growth in healthcare costs over the years may partly represent things like new healthcare treatments, better coverage, and rising prices, the increase in healthcare costs also has negative connotations. There are many flaws in health care markets that may sometimes cause inflated healthcare prices.

26%
Health insurance takes up the largest portion of non-wage compensation at 26%

8.1%
Healthcare is one of the biggest categories of consumer spending at 8.1% of consumer expenditures.

17.7%
Healthcare made up 17.7% of the US economy; It was only 5% 60 years ago.

34%
Americans received healthcare from government insurance or public provision in 2018.

$5,000
The average American household spent per person on healthcare in 2019.

$1,242
People who depend on employer-based insurance benefits pay an average of $1,242 in out-of-pocket healthcare expenses.

$2,500
The US spends $2,500 per person on healthcare administrative costs. About 34% of total healthcare expenditures in the US consists of administrative costs, which is twice the amount that Canada spends. These costs have spiked over the past 20 years, mainly because of the increased overhead among private insurers.

Where Do Americans Look For Healthcare Coverage?

Many Americans look to insurance policies to help them cover healthcare costs. Yet in many cases, policyholders may end up paying more in insurance deductible and premiums than they would if they chose to self-pay and cover the costs in cash. That said, there are a variety of ways that Americans seek out healthcare coverage:
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21.8 million - Individual health insurance market

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6.4 million - Other public health insurance markets

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43.3 million - Medicare

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62.4 million - Medicaid

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156 million - Employer-based

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29 million - Uninsured

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1 million and growing - Health sharing ministries

Membership in health sharing ministries has increased significantly over the years, largely because they are exempt from the insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Monthly contributions to health sharing programs are also much lower than the cost of insurance premiums. In fact, health sharing ministry members can save as much as 50 percent of the cost of traditional health insurance plans.

What Are the Differences Between Health Insurance and Health Share Programs?

While there may be certain similarities between health insurance policies and health share programs, they are not the same. Both may offer some assistance in covering the cost of medical care, but they have significant differences of which Americans seeking health coverage should be aware. The following chart outlines some of the key differences between health insurance plans and health care sharing ministries.

Future

Health Insurance
Plans

Health Sharing Ministries

Eligibility based on medical background

Members with pre-existing medical conditions must be accepted according to
ACA mandates.

Members must qualify based on the standards set forth by the specific health sharing ministry. Programs are not mandated by the ACA.

Eligibility based on lifestyle

All lifestyle choices are accepted.

Members must maintain healthy lifestyles void of dangerous behaviors and must share common faith beliefs. 

Guarantees on
coverage

Yes

No explicit guarantees are made regarding payment of medical expenses.

Profit

For-profit

Non-profit

Payment

Processed according to provisions in signed contracts.

Members request sharing to pay for eligible medical costs based on the sharing program.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Affordable Health Coverage

There are a variety of ways to cover the rising costs of healthcare, but the route you take will determine the overall amount that you end up paying for medical care for you and your family. While comprehensive care is certainly important, so is affordability.

When seeking cost-effective healthcare, there are certain factors that should be taken into consideration, including the following:

Deductibles.

If you take out an average health insurance plan, you’ll be required to pay a deductible before the plan takes over payments. These deductible amounts can vary, but generally, higher deductibles mean lower premiums and vice versa. So, if you have a $4,000 deductible, that means you’ll have to cover $4,000 worth of medical care out of your own pocket before your insurance provider will start kicking in payment coverage.

Premiums.

Insurance plans require that a premium be paid out on a monthly basis, regardless of whether you seek medical care. Based on the information provided above in terms of deductibles, premiums tend to be higher if your deductible amount is lower, or lower if your deductible amount is higher. While many might want to go with a lower premium to save money, it’s important to keep in mind the higher deductible costs, as well as the potential for more limited medical care that may be available as a result.

Coverage percentage.

After you’ve paid your deductible for the year, your insurance provider will start covering medical care expenses. But at what percentage? Different insurance companies and policies will cover varying amounts of medical costs. For instance, some may cover 80 percent of the cost, while others might cover 90 percent or more.

Out-of-pocket expenses.

Many health insurance plans come with out-of-pocket costs. In addition to deductibles, certain medical visits, treatments, and preventive care services may not be covered and therefore must be paid by you. The ACA exempts certain procedures from coverage, such as certain vaccinations, cancer screenings, and procedures.

The types of medical professionals that you are able to see may also be restricted based on your policy. If you have specific specialists that you want to see that are not in your insurance network and are considered out of network, you’ll be on the hook for paying for them.

Prescription medication coverage.

While your insurance plan may have prescription drug coverage, you’ll also want to know what specific medications will be covered. Insurers typically have a list of medications that they will cover and not cover. It’s important to understand what will be covered based on your specific needs before you opt for a specific healthcare plan. Otherwise, you could be facing additional expenses on top of your deductible and premiums.

How Health Share Programs Differ

Health sharing ministries may offer programs with benefits and structures similar to insurance; however, there is oftentimes more flexibility and choice with regard to selecting In-network providers such as primary care physicians and specialists.

Further, health sharing ministries can be a great way for families to save a lot of money because of the curated membership and savings generated by healthier members, creating less strain on the total funds available for sharing. Health sharing ministries may also come with limits similar to deductibles and out of pocket maximums, but there may be critical Illness programs that can help fill that “gap” or act as a safety net In the event of a catastrophic medical event. Healthshare programs are also ideal for those who do not have employer-sponsored health insurance plans or who are not eligible for government subsidies to buy insurance.

Families that are looking for a more affordable way to receive health care may find health sharing programs a much more cost-effective option. At the same time, members can be a part of an organization with other like-minded and faith-based families while helping out their fellow neighbors.

“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” -Hebrews 13:16

Requirements For Participating in Health Share Ministries

While there may not be the same types of restrictions in terms of medical care covered through traditional health insurance plans, there are certain requirements that members must meet to participate in a health sharing program. More specifically, members must:
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Share a common faith and commit to a statement of beliefs

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Maintain a healthy lifestyle

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Not engage in dangerous behaviors, such as smoking or excessive alcohol consumption

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Not have any pre-existing medical conditions

Benefits of Christian Health Share Programs

UHSM is a selective program, and not everyone will be accepted. Those who wish to become a member must meet certain requirements. To qualify to become a part of a Christian healthcare program, members must:
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Affordability. As mentioned, members of Christian health sharing programs can save as much as 50 percent off the cost of healthcare compared to having to pay via traditional insurance plans.

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Flexibility in cost. Monthly contributions are voluntary and members have the freedom to choose their program and associated contribution to fit their particular budgets and medical needs.

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Flexibility in medical care. Traditional health insurance typically confines policyholders to a very restricted network of providers, limiting the ability to choose a preferred provider. Health sharing ministries typically offer members access to an expansive network of national providers, providing greater options across the country. And, members get to choose their primary care physician and specialists from the network. Like Insurance, medical services received out-of-network are not eligible for sharing. Prescription sharing allocation varies between health sharing ministries, with tiers similar to insurance offerings. It’s always best to check the health share program’s pharmacy provider network, formulary, and sharing guidelines before enrolling.

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Be part of a group of like-minded people. A Christian healthcare ministry provides its members with the opportunity to be a part of a faithful community.

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Help fellow Americans. Members of health sharing programs have the chance to help others while helping themselves.

If you are looking for a more affordable way to secure medical benefits and care while being a part of something that allows you to be among other faith-based households, a Christian health sharing program may be right for you. Get in touch with UHSM to see how your unique health care needs can be met.

Click here to see how much you can save with a health share program.

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