Best Practices for Healthcare Sharing Ministries
UHSM – Commitment to Best Standards
A mission to unite a community of believers to help promote Christian standards in healthy living, UHSM continues to assist its members in sharing each other’s medical expenses and caring for their emotional, financial, and spiritual needs.
UHSM is committed to supporting our members with education and transparency related to our health care sharing programs and the internal standards.
UHSM members believe God has provided us with instructions for our lifestyle that, when applied, give us healthier and happier lives. Based on that instruction, these standards are set as an expression of the heart, of our faith in Christ, and of our commitment to Him. Our UHSM religious standards are vital as we consider a holistic (mental, physical, and spiritual) approach to how we live our lives as a representation of Christ to those around us. Our members acknowledge their commitment to these Shared Beliefs and Standards.
Legal Structure and Governance
1. USHM conforms with the Federal Government’s statutory definition of a qualifying Health Care Sharing Ministry (HCSM) as written in 26 USC § 5000A(d)(2)(B)(ii) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. In the past, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was delegated to confirm a HCSM met these standards for the purposes of the tax exemption. Due to the ACA’s Individual Mandate Penalty being reduced to zero, there have been no new determinations provided by CMS. However, UHSM has received an independent legal opinion (links to this PDF) on its compliance in meeting the definition as set forth in the federal statute.
2. UHSM is organized and operates in accordance with the Internal Revenue Code’s definition of a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. As a 501(c)(3), USHM will file a 990 form with the IRS and have an independent annual audit made available to the public.
3. UHSM is governed by an independent Board of Directors. The Board meets regularly to assist the executive team in the execution of the health care sharing ministry’s mission in service to its members.
4. UHSM has established and follows a conflict of interest policy in which transactions between the ministry, its Board of Directors, its management staff, and related persons or organizations are approved by an independent review to confirm that the terms are fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the ministry.
Health Care Sharing Ministry Practices
- UHSM primarily acts as a facilitator for the sharing of medical financial burdens by strengthening the member-to-member connection that occurs through the voluntary medical sharing process. UHSM provides clear program guidelines, tools, and resources to its members in order to maximize benefits and lower administrative costs.
- UHSM, in the best interest of consumers, utilizes health insurance agencies to forward applications for prospective membership because licensed, informed healthcare consultants are best equipped to present various health care choices for each unique situation. For each authorized agency partner, UHSM provides extensive training and controls to ensure that each member receives the proper education and disclaimers, including that UHSM’s Sharing Programs are NOT health insurance and there is no guarantee that eligible medical bills will be shared or otherwise paid. UHSM is committed to providing any limitation and compliance based on any state’s requirements, posting state notices in the UHSM Member Guide, and program brochures.
- UHSM maintains regular, voluntary Monthly Contribution Amounts (MCA) for its members and communicates the process for any change in share amounts.
- UHSM does not assume any transfer of medical risk from its members or make any guarantee of payment for any expenses.
- UHSM is ultimately governed by its Christian Statement of Faith and Shared Beliefs and will only accept families and individuals as Sharing Members who voluntarily agree to these standards, the Membership Acknowledgments, and the Member Guide statements.
- UHSM regularly communicates to its members the total dollar amount of medical needs that were shared among the membership, and each member’s contribution, for a prior month.
- UHSM clearly communicates and strives to inform—in any way possible—the following information to those who are interested in joining the ministry:
- The health care sharing ministry is not an insurance company, nor does it offer any insurance product.
- The sharing of medical costs is completely voluntary, and neither its member nor the health care sharing ministry is compelled by law to pay the costs for medical bills submitted for sharing; although failure to do so may lead to a member’s removal from the ministry’s membership.
- All members will maintain their legal responsibility to pay for the medical bills they incur irrespective of whether they receive payment from the voluntary actions of other members or from the ministry through the sharing process.
A health care sharing ministry (HCSM) should produce financial statements annually using generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) and should be annually audited by an independent, certified public accountant. A health care sharing ministry (HCSM) should make these audited financial statements available to the public upon request.
Membership Review & Pre-Existing Conditions
HCSMs are not insurance and there is no guarantee of payment for any Sharing Members medical expenses, but an expectation may be inherently expected from the Members that contribute to the sharing pool. UHSM has been delegated the responsibility by its members to facilitate the sharing process responsibly which includes adding new members. At UHSM, we believe a ministry should either accept the member’s application for everything that it represents, or the membership should not be approved at all to avoid any potential confusion. Accepting HCSM members without appropriate due diligence, including but not limited to medical review, unnecessarily opens the door to future confusion and scrutiny. UHSM believes every HCSM should adopt strict membership application review principles to avoid the potential for confusion and devastating financial burden on its members.
For Goodness Sake – Educating & Fostering Our Communities
Our mission is to help Christian families maintain their holistic health and wellbeing so they can fulfill their God-given purpose. To that end, UHSM educates and fosters a united community of believers to care for one another and to positively impact our communities.
UHSM endorses and affiliates with other charitable and religious organizations that share our faith, principles, and convictions. Through these partnerships, we champion good habits that lead to better quality in our health care system. Our non-profit ministry seeks out and contributes to causes that: support healthy families, foster charity and education, advocate for better healthcare, and promote holistic health.