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Medical doctor discussing insurance costs with a patient.
The high cost of medical care can be alleviated with financial help from health care ministries.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed, in part, to ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions would be able to obtain some form of healthcare coverage, and statistics show that it has worked…to a degree.

However, while more Americans may have insurance, there are two significant problems. The first is that the insurance premiums for that healthcare coverage are often incredibly expensive, making them out of reasonable reach for some consumers. The second is that many health insurance plans carry a high deductible, meaning that out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare are mounting up alarmingly for some families.

For those who earn well over the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL) but fall well short of being financially comfortable, healthcare represents a significant portion of the family budget each month.

These are just a few of the reasons that many Americans are exercising their freedom to choose how to handle their medical expenses by opting for an alternative to traditional health insurance. One alternative is a health share ministry.

It is important to note that health share ministries are not insurance. There are many distinctions between health share ministries and health insurance. Here are just a few.

1. Affordability

Health insurance plans are very expensive and have been increasing in price over the years. In 2019, annual premiums for health insurance for a household with four cost $20,576. Those costs don’t even include the out-of-pocket expenses that health insurance policyholders must pick up on their own.

Members of health share ministries, however, can realize significant savings. In fact, many members can save as much as 50 percent compared to traditional health insurance plans, making health share ministries a much more affordable option for many.

2. Organizational Aim

Health insurance companies are businesses that charge premiums for their policies in an effort to make money. The monthly premiums that policyholders pay help to drive profits for these firms.

On the other hand, health share programs are non-profit organizations that do not collect contributions from members in an effort to profit. Instead, the contributions are collected into the health sharing plan to be used by active members of the plan who require financial assistance for eligible medical care.

Family lying down together.
Families can realize significant savings with health share programs compared to typical insurance policies.

3. Eligibility and Payment of Medical Expenses

Health insurance programs are bound by the mandates of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which dictates that all individuals must be accepted into plans, including those in poor health or those with pre-existing medical conditions. Health share ministries, on the other hand, are not mandated by the ACA. As such, membership eligibility is based only on the standards that the particular ministry outlines.

In this way, health share ministry members do not have to pool their contributions in an insurance pool that doesn’t choose its members based on lifestyle or health levels. They, therefore, have the freedom to share the cost of medical care with other like-minded individuals.

4. Flexibility With Available Medical Professionals

In an effort to keep costs down, health insurance plans restrict the choice of physicians and hospitals that policyholders can visit. They also place a limit on the types of medications that are made available. In contrast, health share ministries do not place such restrictions on the type of doctor or specialist that members can visit.

While both health insurance plans and health share ministries are in place to help Americans cover the expenses associated with medical care without having to pay for services outright, there are significant differences between the two that should be understood.

If you’re ready for a change in how your family covers the cost of health care, contact UHSM to see what we can offer according to your specific health care needs.