The Best HealthShare for Pre-existing Conditions – Part 2

A young doctor sitting at a table in an office, prescribing medicine to a woman patient

This is part two of the Best HealthShare for Pre-existing Conditions series. To read part one, click here.

 

In part one of this series, Sedera, Liberty HealthShare, and Altrua HealthShare’s guidelines on pre-existing conditions were compared to see which would come out on top. Ultimately, Sedera proved to be somewhat better than Liberty and Altrua, in no small part because they do not decline membership based on pre-existing conditions and because they fully share costs for pre-existing conditions after four years of membership.

This time we are going to be comparing Zion HealthShare, United Refuah HealthShare, and Christian Healthcare Ministries’ guidelines on pre-existing conditions. Unlike in part 1, however, there is no clear front-runner. Each of these HealthShares brings something different to the table, but all have caveats and restrictions that prevent them from taking the lead.

HealthShares and pre-existing conditions

When joining a HealthShare, it’s important to understand that HealthShares are not insurance, and there are differences between what insurances can be expected to cover and HealthShares can be expected to share. Since HealthShares share the medical expenses of their medical cost sharing community via members’ monthly contributions, and because being a part of the community is a monthly rather than annual commitment, they place some restrictions on what is shared in order to keep costs lower for members.

Typically, pre-existing conditions are any condition for which a member has shown signs or symptoms, or has received treatment or taken medication for, within the two years before the start of their membership (this timeframe is known as the lookback period).

Unlike with traditional health insurance, which cannot refuse coverage to members based on whether they have pre-existing conditions, HealthShares are not obligated to share expenses related to pre-existing conditions, and in rare cases may decline membership to those who have them.

In fact, all HealthShares place limitations on, and have waiting periods for, sharing medical expenses related to pre-existing conditions. These limitations on sharing, and allowances made to members with pre-existing conditions, vary between HealthShares.

Zion HealthShare

Zion HealthShare has no religious requirements for joining and does not ask members to sign permanent waivers.

Zion HealthShare offers limited sharing for pre-existing conditions, with those limits increasing depending on the duration of a membership. After the first full year of membership, members are able to share

  • Up to $25,000 in the second year
  • Up to $50,000 in the third year
  • Up to $125,000 from the fourth year onward

Though other HealthShares may have no sharing limits after a certain period, they have other limits up front that may prevent many people from ever benefiting from the “fully shared” pre-existing conditions. While pre-existing conditions may never be fully shareable for Zion HealthShare members, they do offer the possibility of additional sharing toward pre-existing conditions through their Additional Giving Fund.

United Refuah HealthShare

United Refuah HealthShare is a small but highly rated HealthShare which caters to members of the Jewish faith, a community otherwise largely overlooked by the majority of HealthShares.

Regardless if a condition is pre-existing or not, United Refuah has a 60-day wait period before members become fully eligible for sharing. During that wait period, members’ expenses are only shareable up to a lifetime maximum of $25,000.

United Refuah does not have a stated lookback period: all pre-exiting conditions, regardless of how long it has been since a member has received any treatment or shown symptoms for, are subject to the pre-existing condition limitations.

Similar to Liberty HealthShare, United Refuah may require members to sign a permanent waiver, waiving their ability to share expenses related to a specific pre-existing condition in order to obtain membership if sharing for that pre-existing condition would “strain [United Refuah HealthShare’s] ability to share beyond” capacity.

In the absence of a waiver, after one full year of membership United Refuah members may share

  • Up to $25,000 in total in the second and third year of membership
  • After three years of membership, the condition may no longer be subject to pre-existing condition sharing limitations.

While being able to fully share in some pre-existing conditions after three years of membership is good, the requirement of some members to sign a permanent waiver and the lifelong lookback period are factors to consider.

Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM)

Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM) is the most established, most well-known healthcare sharing ministry in the country.

CHM has a 12-month lookback period for pre-existing conditions, and divides pre-existing conditions into two categories:

Active (ineligible for sharing)
  • The condition actively needs testing or treatment other than maintenance medications, regardless if it has been diagnosed or not
Maintained (eligible for sharing)
  • At least 90 days have passed without the member having been tested or treated
  • Medical provider states no further testing or treatment is needed
  • Medical records show that the member is cured or on a maintenance treatment regimen

CHM also has two programs for sharing costs related to pre-existing conditions:

Gold Schedule
  • Exclusive to Gold memberships
  • Up to $15,000 shareable in the first year
  • Up to $25,000 shareable in the first two years
  • Up to $50,000 shareable in the first three years
  • After the third year of membership, the condition is no longer considered pre-existing and is eligible for regular sharing
Prayer Page
  • Allows Bronze and Silver members to potentially share maintained pre-existing conditions
  • Funded through voluntary contributions

It’s good that CHM allows full sharing of some pre-existing conditions after three years of membership. However, CHM’s rules regarding which pre-existing conditions may or may not be shared, and the fact that they only consistently share in pre-existing conditions for Gold memberships are factors to consider.

Conclusion

Despite not being able to name a clear winner for this edition of the Best HealthShare for Pre-existing Conditions series, there was still a lot to uncover and learn about these guidelines that may be of use to current and prospective members.

In the next part of the series, we will look at the remaining HealthShares on HealthShare Guide that have not yet been featured: Samaritan Ministries, Solidarity HealthShare, OneShare Health, and Medi-Share. We will also determine which of the ten companies on this site is the best HealthShare for pre-existing conditions.

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