As health insurance coverage becomes increasingly more expensive, patients are now looking for ways to keep their healthcare costs within their budget. A health share plan offers participants some relief and more affordable access to certain types of healthcare. Here’s a brief explanation of what health sharing programs are and their main pros and cons.
What Is a Health Share Plan?
Basically, a health share plan is like a co-operative, usually administered by faith-based organizations. The health share plan helps people of like minds to share the cost of their medical expenses. If you belong to a faith-based group that offers this option, you could avoid paying high deductibles required by traditional health insurance and enjoy the assurance of a health share.
How a Health Share Works
When you join a health share, you still pay a monthly amount like you do for traditional health insurance. Many share plans provide discounts on your healthcare visits. In some cases, you may be able to pay about half the cost with lower deductibles. This option is good if you cannot afford health insurance at your level of income and you want to avoid the penalty for living without health insurance.
Health Share Plans: The Pros and Cons
Health share plans are not the same as health insurance. They are also known as “health sharing ministries” and do not have the same type of laws and regulations as traditional health insurance firms. Each group is allowed to create their own set of rules and they decide the conditions that they’re going to cover. Some groups have ethical considerations such as abstinence from drinking and sex before marriage.
Virtually all health share plans do not cover pre-existing conditions. This means that you may still need to use conventional health insurance as a supplement if you need to treat such conditions.
- They are almost always easier to afford than traditional health insurance.
- You can visit any hospital or doctor because there’s no coverage network that you must work with.
- There’s a strong sense of sharing and helping instead of the feeling that you are paying premiums to a large insurance company.
- They won’t cover pre-existing medical conditions.
- There’s no guaranteed payment on medical procedures or treatment that the group doesn’t approve.
- They don’t cover the cost of routine visits and preventive care.
- Most groups don’t accept people who can’t adhere to the lifestyle rules set by the group.
As health insurance premiums keep rising year after year, many consumers are questioning the rationale behind having health insurance. That’s why there’s a high demand for alternatives to traditional health insurance.
While health sharing has helped many people reduce their monthly healthcare spend, it’s widely believed that health sharing draws people away from the traditional insurance market and this could disrupt the profitability of the health insurance industry. And most of those who are opting out are healthy patients whose contributions and premiums could have been used to help reduce the cost of treating people with chronic diseases.