Provider payment methods depend on the HealthShare you choose to join, but there are two options:
- The HealthShare pays providers directly, similar to traditional insurance.
- Members pay providers themselves, and then get reimbursed by their HealthShare.
Member reimbursement is common
While a few HealthShares work with both provider payment options and allow members to choose their preference, most sharing ministries only use one or the other. After reviewing active HealthShares, it looks like member reimbursement is more common right now. But more and more ministries are moving toward paying providers directly. This makes sense—HealthShare ministries are relatively new to the scene, and many providers still aren’t familiar with them. This confusion can make billing and payments complicated. However, providers are very familiar with self-pay patients, so using self-pay removes some of the guesswork.
Direct provider payment is becoming best practice
The push toward direct payments is a good change. Historically, many HealthShares have been extremely slow to reimburse members, and, in the worst cases, slow to pay providers. However, HealthShare ministries are becoming more and more popular and that means that standards are rising.
HealthShare members expect good service and, since they have more ministries to choose from than ever before, many HealthShares are working hard to improve. United Refuah and Zion Health, for example, are making dedicated efforts to pay providers at the time of service. Zion Health can pay for preventive appointments over the phone; United Refuah asks members to prenotify them whenever possible and also created a needs form that clearly shows the information needed. This will, of course, help members, but quick payments also give providers a better opinion of HealthShare ministries. This better impression makes providers more willing to work with HealthShare ministries in the future. Finally, sharing ministries who are familiar with traditional insurance and are trying to use best practices from that world will pressure other ministries to be better. It’s definitely a huge step in the right direction.
How does method of payment affect your choices?
All HealthShares offer something unique, so do your research. For example, if a certain ministry looks like it would be a perfect fit for you, but member reviews indicate that the company can be slow to handle bills, that doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. If you are in a position to pay providers yourself and wait for reimbursement, that ministry may still be the right option. On the other hand, you may need help as quickly as possible to remain financially stable. In that case, it might be best to look for a different sharing ministry.
Recent reviews will be the most helpful tool for figuring out how a HealthShare handles bills. Payment information is available on every ministry’s website, but member reviews give a good idea of what bill processing actually looks like. Reviews can include useful context for what might be going on. (For example, we found multiple reviews for one HealthShare stating that the company had changed the database it used and that was slowing things down.) Site upgrades, internet outages, and other non-permanent situations can impact bill processing, so it’s worth seeing what people have to say.
Check out healthsharingreviews.com to easily compare multiple ministries or use Google to search a specific HealthShare and browse through its reviews.
What provider payment works best for you?
It’s important to know which payment method would work best for you before signing up for a HealthShare. So take some time to make that decision and double-check that your HealthShare offers that option before taking the plunge. Knowing whether a ministry will fit your needs can make choosing a HealthShare a much better, and less stressful, experience.
HealthShare Cheat Sheet: A quick review of bill pay styles