What Are Healthshare Ministries?
Have you ever heard of a Healthshare Ministry? They recently gained popularity in 2010 when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was passed. Their relatively low monthly payments have been an attractive feature ever since costs on health insurance have increased.
So, what exactly are Healthshare Ministries?
How They Work
First things first, Healthshare Ministries are not health insurance. The government does not require them to pay claims. Rather, they are programs based on faith. Members pay a monthly fee that is pulled together to help pay for each other’s medical bills.
This diagram from Medi-share’s website gives an easy explanation of their process.
Healthshare Membership Requirements
In order to join a Healthshare program, you must agree to their membership requirements. Every ministry has its own beliefs, but most of the core ones are similar.
Here are a few examples:
- Do your best to keep up your health
- Care for each other
- Avoid drug use, alcohol, and abortion
They do not cover any pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, if there was an accident and it was because of something that goes against their standards of belief, the ministry can choose not to cover it.
How Did They Gain Popularity?
As stated before, Healthshares rose in popularity when Obamacare was first enacted. The ACA recognizes these programs as qualified Healthcare. If someone did not want Obamacare they could choose a Healthshare program and avoid paying a penalty. They offer a cheaper alternative for healthy individuals who do not need much coverage.
Why You Should Be Careful
These Healthshare Ministries are not required by law to pay claims. Paying monthly to them does not guarantee that your medical bills will be covered. Moreover, several of them sell their membership through insurance agents and use terms similar to insurance terms. All of these factors can make it difficult to distinguish them from health insurance. Although these ministries do not claim to be health insurance, it is important insurance agents make that clear. If a Healthshare membership is sold claiming to be insurance the agent could be personally liable to pay the claims. Contact your state insurance licensing department for more information.
I am not saying that it’s wrong to have Healthshare Ministries in the market or that you should avoid them. They might end up being the best option for you. However, we want to make sure that there is a clear distinction between insurance and a healthshare ministry and that you make sure to understand the differences.
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