What are Health Sharing Plans?
Health Sharing Plans are faith-based health programs that facilitate sharing funds amongst members for qualified medical expenses. According to the specific guidelines each health sharing plan holds, members pool their monthly shares together (much like a premium) that are then used to help others in their network with medical expenses.
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Differences Between Health Care Sharing vs Health Insurance
Insurance is defined as “a practice or arrangement by which a company or government agency provides a guarantee of compensation for specified loss, damage, illness, or death in return for a payment of a premium.” No such guarantee exists for health care sharing.
When insured, you enter a legally binding contract with your insurer. However, there are no binding contracts between a member and a health sharing program or between members to receive a payment.
Like health insurance, there are specific guidelines each must follow to be accepted into a Health Sharing Plan. Typically, these Health Sharing Plans are formed by people with similar beliefs and values who agree to share each other’s healthcare expenses. These programs’ main appeal is that they are theoretically much less expensive than health insurance, with lower out-of-pocket expense limits than typical high-deductible health insurance options.
But Health Care Sharing isn’t health insurance. They typically do not cover health-related costs considered “unbiblical” – defined in their guidelines – and can exclude payments for birth control, abortions, alcohol, or drug-related injuried, or negligent injuries. This also includes accidents that some faiths may consider an “act of God”.
Participating members are excluded from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance, although they do not meet the ACA’s essential health benefits requirements.
What are Health Care Sharing Plan Options?
To become a member of a particular healthcare sharing program, you may be required to agree and sign a statement of faith, or in some cases, have to verify regular church attendance. However, each healthcare sharing program has its own policies. The significant difference between each health sharing plan is their acceptance guidelines, alternative treatment coverage, and electronic billing.
The most popular health sharing ministries are:
- Liberty Healthshare
- Christian Healthcare Ministries
- Samaritan Ministries
- Altrua Healthshare
Review of Popular Healthcare Sharing Ministries
While there are multiple healthcare sharing ministries, we will review the five most popular plans’ features and benefits.
Christian Healthcare Ministries Review & Pricing
“To be CHM members, participating adults must be Christians living by biblical principles, including abstaining from the use of tobacco and the illegal use of drugs (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), following biblical teaching on the use of alcohol, and attending group worship regularly if health permits (Hebrews 10:25). There are no restrictions based on age, weight, geographic location, or health history.” – Christian Healthcare Ministries
According to the Christian Healthcare Ministries website, their members have shared over $2.5 billion. Like the ACA, the CHM has Gold, Silver, and Bronze options with ranging benefits and costs.
Gold, which includes inpatient or outpatient hospital incidents and surgery, medical testing, maternity, physical therapy and home healthcare, incident-related doctor’s office visits, and incident-related prescriptions, costs around $175 per month.
Silver, which includes inpatient or outpatient hospital incidents and surgery, as well as surgery performed at facilities that meet accepted standards of medical care, costs around $120 per month.
Bronze, which includes inpatient or outpatient hospital incidents and surgery, as well as surgery performed at facilities that meet accepted standards of medical care, costs around $80 per month.
CHM also has a low-cost catastrophic coverage program called “brother’s keeper”, which can be added to all plans for an additional fee.
Liberty Healthshare Review & Pricing
“Liberty Healthshare’s program is based on shared ethical and religious beliefs, a religious tradition of mutual aid, neighborly assistance, and financial sharing. The program does not share expenses resulting from behaviors and lifestyles destructive to personal health, but is specially tailored for individuals who maintain a Christian lifestyle, make responsible choices in regards to health, and believe in helping others.” – Liberty Healthshare
While Liberty Healthshare has the reputation of being an inclusive healthcare sharing program, there is a list of Sharing Member Qualifications and Requirements that must be accepted.
LHS has four medical cost-sharing programs, which include Liberty CompleteSM (around $400 a month), Liberty PlusSM (around $375 a month), Liberty ShareSM ($350 a month), and Liberty Select (around $200 a month).
Those who participate in LHS must pay their Annual Unshared Amount (AUA) in full before medical costs are eligible for sharing.
Medi-Share Review & Pricing
Medi-Share believes in “a membership made up of Christ-followers who agree with the Statement of Faith. Additionally, members who agree to live by the following Biblical standards of no use of tobacco or drugs, and no sex outside of traditional Christian marriage.”
Medi-Share has facilitated the sharing of over $2 billion. With Medi-Share, each household’s monthly share is based on the oldest applicant’s age and how many family members participate. There are several Annual Household Portion options available.
Medi-Share memberships include share options, annual physicals with limited labs, hospital, surgical, and other medical expenses, no lifetime or annual sharing limits, eligible bills sharable at 100% after AHP (maternity exception), one AHP per family, access and discounts through PHCS Network, unlimited TeleHealth and TeleCounseling with $0 counseling fee, dental discounts, vision discounts, prescription discounts, and maternity sharing.
Samaritan Ministries Review and Pricing
“Our membership requirements strive to encourage Christian maturity and foster accountability and a healthy lifestyle. Therefore, we ask that all members agree to our Statement of Faith and to our Membership Requirements.” – Samaritan Ministries
The classic membership is around $220 per person, has a personal responsibility cost of $400 per incident, and shares 100% of qualifying needs, which go above $300 in total cost on the Classic Plan. Members of the Basic Level Membership agree to share expenses incurred for medical treatments specified in the Membership Guidelines.
Sedera Review & Pricing
“The Sedera MCS Community believes that our members, in concert with the medical providers of their choosing, have a natural incentive to do what is best for themselves and their families, as well as the primary responsibility for making their own health care decisions.” – Sedera
For people ages 30-39 with the Access+ Initial Unshareable Amount (IUA), a member only plan costs around $210. For members under 30, it costs around $170.
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