Should you join a HealthShare? Are they any good? While HealthShares don’t work for everybody, there are some great reasons to consider joining one. Let’s look at a few!
1. More affordable than traditional insurance
Most HealthShare ministries offer programs that are considerably cheaper than a monthly insurance fee would be. The cheapest sharing programs rarely offer sharing for preventive care. But many mid-priced options act similarly to traditional insurance and allow sharing for common bills such as annual checkups and immunizations. The most expensive programs frequently include discounts or sharing for prescriptions and more complicated preventive care, such as mammograms. Yet, even these pricey options are usually still cheaper than traditional health insurance.
2. Great for unexpected needs
HealthShares really shine with “catastrophic care”—unexpected medical costs following major events such as injury or a serious illness. The original concept of HealthShares focused on helping members afford large medical costs. That core still exists even as sharing ministries have evolved to fit more complicated needs. A generally healthy person who is not concerned about preventive care or paying the costs for minor medical needs might still find it worthwhile to join a HealthShare. Hospital visits and treatments can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and every existing HealthShare offers programs designed to help with those costs.
3. Gives a sense of community and involvement
HealthShare ministries accept members based on shared values about health and personal responsibility. Many HealthShares also accept members who share a set of religious values. These similarities help members feel a sense of belonging, and many ministries take this a step further by adding features such as devotionals; prayer request options; financial visibility (members can see who their monthly fee has helped); and direct contact between members to offer each other sympathy and encouragement. The shared values of a ministry, and its smaller size compared to the member network of a traditional insurance company, allow members to feel more involved with other members and with the organization as a whole.
4. More freedom to choose providers
Many HealthShares have no provider network at all and members can see any certified provider who offers approved treatments. Ministries that do have a provider network frequently use PHCS/Multiplan, which is one of the largest networks in the United States. This makes it simpler to find providers that are in network.
5. Some international options for missionaries
A few HealthShares accept members living outside the United States. The religious nature of many HealthShares made it a logical step to consider the needs of people who might be living outside the United States for some time. The conditions for such membership mean that it probably won’t be a replacement for travel insurance. However, for people living abroad long-term, a membership with a sharing ministry could offer much-needed help for regular care.