If you’ve paid for any healthcare expenses in the years since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, you know that the cost of paying for healthcare expenses continues to rise, leaving many Americans searching for a more affordable way. One solution that is often discovered during this search is known as healthcare sharing.
You may be asking “How have I not heard of healthcare sharing? Is this a new thing?” While you may not have heard of it, it is certainly not a new thing.
Healthcare sharing ministries have existed in their current state since the Reagan administration, and they present an affordable method of paying for medical expenses that allows members the freedom to choose healthcare that aligns with their personal moral values. Though each healthcare sharing ministry varies in the way it facilitates the payment of medical expenses, the general theory remains the same: healthcare sharing ministry members directly share each other’s medical expenses. The monthly share amount paid by each member also varies by ministry, but as a reference point, one of the largest healthcare sharing ministries, Liberty HealthShare, has monthly share amounts as low as $199 for individuals and $429 for families.
Think of everything you could do with all of that extra money!
When presented with the idea of such an affordable solution to pay for health care costs, many families think this is simply too good to be true. However, with membership in healthcare sharing ministries on the rise, it’s apparent that these ministries are operating quite effectively. Liberty HealthShare, which shares the same non-profit status as every other healthcare sharing ministry, paid out over $55 million dollars in medical bills during 2016 according to the annual audit posted on its website. These expenses were paid solely from contributions by members, and the remaining funds were carried over into the next year to safeguard against a spike in members’ medical expenses. Through this facilitation of members’ funds, healthcare sharing ministries such as Liberty HealthShare are providing their members with the opportunity to change the way they pay for healthcare.
Honestly, isn’t it refreshing to see an organization manage money so efficiently?
If you still need more evidence that healthcare sharing ministries are not “too good to be true,” look no further than the sheer volume of people who take personal responsibility for their medical costs by using healthcare sharing ministries. As of the end of 2017, membership in healthcare sharing ministries surpassed the one million mark, which is more than five times as many members than in 2012 when the number was around 175,000. The drastically increased popularity of healthcare sharing ministries can be partly attributed to the exemption members receive from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate. Thanks to the religious exemption that healthcare sharing ministries received prior to 1999, members of these ministries are not required to pay a tax penalty for not being a member of an ACA-approved plan.
Preventing government interference in healthcare? It’s no wonder so many Americans have joined the movement!
It’s a common misconception that healthcare sharing ministries keep prices low by not sharing expensive medical bills, such as hospital stays, emergency room visits, and ambulance transportation. However, these expenses, and any other expense classified as medically necessary, such as doctor visits, vaccinations, chiropractic services, hospice care, and alternative care are all shareable expenses according to Liberty HealthShare’s sharing guidelines. In addition to these eligible expenses, Liberty HealthShare and a number of other healthcare sharing ministries offer member discounts on prescriptions, dental, and vision services.
As Americans search for an affordable way to pay for their healthcare, healthcare sharing ministries look poised to continue their growth. More and more people are starting to realize that these ministries are not “too good to be true,” and they actually do provide Americans with an affordable solution to pay for medical expenses. These ministries are subject to annual financial audits and have proven over and over again to have a good track record of paying eligible expenses. With this independent audit validating the effectiveness of these ministries, those who want to control healthcare costs for themselves and their families may want to consider a healthcare sharing ministry as a top option.