You may have heard of medical sharing plans or christian/faith ministry plans. Health sharing programs have more than doubled their members in the past few years, thanks to an exemption they received in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Member’s do not have to pay the individual mandate (2.5% of income) that is required of those that do not have ACA approved coverage. Supporters among these plans say they have been less expensive, provide more choice, and therefore are better options than traditional health insurance. However, some say the ministries are unregulated, don’t guarantee claims will be paid, and may harm the overall health care industry by pulling a healthy segment of the population from the insurance market. Health sharing groups have been around for longer than 20 years. Most initially formed due to rising costs in the 1990’s. It is estimated there are at minimum 50 health sharing ministries in the USA. A written report by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) predicted the groups oversee about $60 million in healthcare payments every year. So is a faith ministry plan or health sharing plan right for you?
Do You Qualify For ACA Subsidies?
First off, when considering a faith ministry plan you’ll want to determine if you qualify for an Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidy. This is money the government gives you to help pay for your health insurance. You can only use these funds to buy certain ACA compliant plans on a public exchange (like healthcare.gov). If you qualify for these funds and you still choose a faith ministry plan, you’ll be giving these funds up. To qualify for assistance your household income must be below 400% of the federal poverty line (FPL). If you’re not sure if you’re 400% below the FPL, Google a FPL chart and look. You can also see if you qualify on our ACA quote engine. Click ACA quotes at the bottom of the ACA page. For those who don’t qualify for assistance and want a good plan that avoids the government’s individual mandate (that charges you 2.5% of your income) for not having compliant coverage, medical share plans can be a great option.
Most medical share carriers offer MRA’s or Member Responsibility Amounts from $500 to $12,000. MRA’s are essentially the same thing as a health insurance deductible, once you meet the MRA the plan starts to pay for your medical care. Most plans pay 100% after the MRA is met. Typically you’ll pay a co-pay of around $30 to go to the doctor before your MRA is even met. Prices can range from $80 to $380 depending on deductible and your age. Some carriers do not cover cancer for the 1st year, but you can add an inexpensive third party cancer policy to your coverage for the first year, just in case. This will give you money for things like chemo, radiation and lost income. Then during ACA open enrollment you may want to switch to a very low deductible ACA plan if you are still undergoing treatment for cancer.
Healthshare Vs Health Insurance There are some differences between medical share and traditional health insurance. One of the major difference is that most plans require that you agree to a statement of faith. This keeps a healthy pool of people in the policy, but it also insures that the plan keeps its individual mandate exemption (as a faith based plan) so that you do not have to pay the ACA penalty. A typical statement will say that you don’t use drugs, abuse alcohol, treat your body well and not treat others badly. A couple plans have a statement regarding marriage being between a man and a woman. This social topic is one that we tend to see the most push back on and for this reason health sharing plans are obviously not for everyone. Of course the contract you sign will not be shared with anyone, but this is a decision that each individual has to make when deciding on one of these plans.
In short these plans are not for everyone but for those who don’t qualify for financial assistance and feel that they can commit to the statement of standards for the plan, they can be a great way to save money and stay compliant with the ACA law. To view pricing on a few of the more popular healthshare plans checkout https://www.indyhealthagent.com/medishare-options-and-rates or our website. You can also request a free no obligation Health share / Medishare quote at https://www.indyhealthagent.com/contact .
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