As healthcare costs keep rising, more and more people are becoming frustrated with traditional insurance and looking for other ways to get care. In the United States, an increasingly popular option is to join a health sharing ministry. HealthShares are non-profit organizations made of a community of likeminded people. They are often religious in nature (although not always) and require members to agree to make good health choices to join. Eligible medical costs are then shared between members. Basically, members pay monthly membership fees, and when they have a medical need, the money paid by other members is then used to help pay that bill. HealthShares can be significantly more affordable than traditional insurance, but they do come with a big question: Are they legitimate?
The answer is yes! HealthShares are a legal alternative to health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, at least if the ministry existed prior to 1992 (or is sponsored by a ministry that existed before that time). They are recognized by the United States government as a viable way to get healthcare, so have no worries there. And because most states have dropped penalties for individual coverage mandates, you can join newer medical cost sharing organizations without having to worry about a tax penalty (with only a few exceptions like New Jersey).
With that said, it’s important to understand that HealthShares are not insurance. They work in a similar way, but they are not regulated like insurance companies. They are not required to help pay bills for any given condition or accept anyone for membership, so you have to know what kind of care you need and also be willing to read through the company’s guidelines before making a choice. Most HealthShares limit sharing for chronic conditions, maternity costs, costs related to tobacco use, and so on; these restrictions help keep their monthly fees lower and save money for the members overall. This model is beneficial for a large part of the population, but consumers need to completely review every company they might be interested in to make sure that a membership will meet their needs. They should also look at reviews left by other members to get an idea of what membership with that HealthShare will be like. You can find such reviews right here on HealthShare Guide!
Finally, health sharing is becoming more and more popular, so there has been a recent increase in brand-new ministries. A new company can be a good way to save money since most new HealthShares ask for lower membership fees to attract members, but there probably won’t be many member reviews to help you make a decision. Make sure you read all company material carefully.
At the end of the day, anything that helps more people afford healthcare is worth considering. HealthShares are legal and many sharing ministries are offering better and better care as the industry adapts, so they are absolutely a legitimate option for healthcare. A HealthShare just might be the right choice for you!