How does healthshare work? Can this lower the cost of your health care?

Healthshare is also known as “Health Sharing Plans” or “Health Sharing Ministries.” All of these organizations follow the same basic system, and this represents an alternative to traditional, mainstream health insurance in the United States. However, healthshare is not the same as health insurance, and it should not be viewed as such. 

Healthcare sharing plans involve numerous members banding together and paying monthly fees to a central pot of money. When one member gets sick, the organization can take the necessary funds from this central pot of money and pay their medical bills. In other words, a community of healthy individuals bears the financial burden of an unhealthy member when they need help. 

But we know what you’re thinking: “This sounds a lot like a typical health insurance plan.” Well, there are many similarities between health sharing and a normal health insurance policy – but these similarities may only exist on the surface level. For example, there are no copays or deductibles when you choose healthcare sharing, while these additional fees can cost thousands of dollars a year with an ACA insurance plan.

How do members share the cost of medical treatment?

So if there are no copays or deductibles, then how do members pay for medical treatment when they join a healthshare plan? Firstly, their monthly fees go towards a shared fund, allowing members to cover each other’s medical bills fairly easily. Secondly, each member is responsible for paying a certain amount of money for their medical services before they can request funding assistance from other members. For example, a member might have to pay the first $500 for a pacemaker implant, while the remainder may be covered by other members. This is similar to a deductible, but the overall costs may be much lower when you compare it to a typical ACA health plan. 

Health sharing began with Christian groups in early American history, such as Mormons and Mennonites. However, the system has evolved considerably over the years, and new technology has made it easier than ever to share costs. For example, some programs use innovative crowdfunding technology to seamlessly pay members’ bills after funding requests are made. In addition, health sharing plans are no longer limited to those who adhere to the Christian faith, and you can join programs that have no relation to religious beliefs.

Where do mainstream health insurance programs fall short?

The main issue with traditional health insurance is the lack of affordability. The cost of health insurance for the average American is becoming far too great to justify, and some are even choosing to abandon coverage altogether. These rising costs are due to a number of factors, including inflation. In fact, recent reports suggest that the cost of health insurance could spike dramatically within the next few years – and that policyholders have yet to experience the effect of inflation on America’s healthcare industry. 

You also have to consider that the ACA marketplace doesn’t provide many opportunities for competition. Residents of some states can only choose between a few viable health insurance plans, and this lack of variety drives the cost of insurance up. If more companies were competing against each other, rates would be lower. Some states don’t even give residents the option to refuse Obamacare, inflicting harsh tax penalties on anyone who doesn’t adhere to the ACA system. In addition, many employees have no choice but to choose their employers’ group health plans.

The problems don't stop there.

Another major source of frustration for many Americans is the system of copayments. Combined with deductibles and monthly premiums, this drives up the cost of insurance to the point where many wonder whether their plan is even worth it. At the end of the day, copayments disproportionately affect low-income Americans and dissuade policyholders from getting the treatment that they need. 

Doctor networks are another major issue, as policyholders are not always given the freedom to choose the providers they prefer. Instead, they must go through the time-consuming process of making sure a doctor is within their insurer’s network. If they visit an out-of-network provider, they may lose all of their coverage. Sometimes, they are left with no choice but to leave their networks in order to get the treatment they need. 

Under a true free market system, insurance companies would reject many individuals with pre-existing medical conditions. This is because these individuals represent a major financial risk, as there is really no benefit to covering these people from a business perspective. They will obviously incur substantial medical costs that completely outweigh any premiums or deductibles they might be paying. While rejecting these individuals might seem cruel from an ethical standpoint, it also protects healthy individuals from bearing the financial burden of those with chronic diseases and serious, permanent medical issues. 

To its credit, the Affordable Care Act prevents insurance companies from rejecting people with pre-existing conditions. But this has the effect of forcing healthy individuals to pay higher premiums to balance out the costs associated with these chronically-ill patients. Even if you pursue an extremely healthy lifestyle and engage in smart preventative care, you will always be tasked with paying for the sickest members of society under the ACA system. These include individuals who have made irresponsible lifestyle decisions, such as excessive drinking, poor diets, and drug abuse. One has to wonder whether this is a truly ethical system, or whether it places an unfair burden on those who take their health seriously.

What are my options for care sharing?

A clear alternative to the traditional health insurance system is CrowdHealth. This company falls under the general category of a medical sharing organization, but it uses an innovative crowdfunding strategy that seamlessly allows members to share the cost of their medical bills. One of the key benefits of CrowdHealth is that there are no doctor networks – allowing you to choose any provider that meets your needs. 

But perhaps the most attractive aspect of CrowdHealth is its affordability. If you are young and healthy, you can expect to pay as little as $175 per month, and you will not be tasked with shouldering the financial burden of those with pre-existing conditions. There are also no deductibles. All you need to do is pay your medical bills and submit the receipt to the app. From there, CrowdHealth will facilitate the crowdfunding process to allow for funding assistance for all costs above the first $500. Do the math, and you might find that this system is much more affordable and effective than a typical health insurance policy. 

If you’d like to learn more about the crowdfunding process, reach out to one of our team members today. We can answer all of your questions and help you search for a more effective, affordable healthcare solution.

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