What is Christian Health Insurance? How Christian Healthcare Helps with Medical Care
What is Christian Health Insurance? How Christian Healthcare Helps with Medical Care
Many Americans are learning that Christians in this nation have their own way of doing things when it comes to health insurance. This system is often called a “Healthcare Ministry,” a “Healthcare Sharing Ministry,” or simply “Health Care Sharing.” While sharing healthcare began with the Mormons and Mennonites in America’s early history, new technological innovations have made this system more advanced than ever before.
But how exactly does it work? Why are so many people turning to this system instead of the traditional health insurance industry? Do you need to be a Christian to join one of these ministries? And can it really help you pay for your medical bills? Let’s find out…
How normal health insurance works
To understand how a health-sharing ministry works, you first need to understand how the mainstream, traditional health insurance industry functions in the United States. Once you know how most people receive medical coverage, you’ll understand what makes these sharing ministries so unique.
In a typical health insurance policy, many Americans share the risk of incurring medical costs by paying monthly premiums. These premiums go to a central “pot” that pays for medical care when policyholders need it. Fortunately, many people don’t need medical care on a regular basis – and they remain healthy despite paying their premiums every month. These healthy people end up paying for the medical bills of unhealthy people. But when healthy people get sick, they can expect the same assistance from that central pot of money.
For the typical insurance company, the goal is to get as many people as possible together in something called a “risk pool.” With a greater number of people comes greater levels of predictability and (generally) lower premiums.
However, it’s important to note that everyone’s premiums are almost never enough to totally cover medical bills. In fact, most ACA plans will only cover a portion of your medical bills – with even a Platinum plan requiring you to pay 10% of your fees. In addition, you may need to pay a deductible before your coverage kicks in. If you choose an ACA plan, you never have to pay a deductible for preventative care – but you might end up paying thousands of dollars in deductibles for other treatments.
If that wasn’t enough, you also need to pay additional fees called copayments or “copays.” These are flat fees that you’ll need to pay whenever you see a doctor, visit the hospital, or engage in any other treatment. These copays can cost anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.
With all that said, you only have to pay a certain amount of money before your out-of-pocket maximum kicks in. This is when you spend so much money during a plan period that your insurer agrees to pay for everything else from that point onward. The ACA states that this amount cannot be more than $8,700 for an individual and $17,400 for a family.
But if you’re forced to pay deductibles and copayments on top of your premiums, then where are your premiums going? First of all, it’s important to note that health insurance companies are not charities. They are for-profit organizations, so a significant portion of your premiums goes toward their bottom line. Part of your premiums also goes towards administrative costs needed to run the business. Another chunk goes towards taxes. This means that by the time everyone’s premiums reach the central pot, they are notably smaller.
The profit motivation of standard insurance.
So why do insurance companies even have deductibles? These additional payments essentially serve as insurance for the insurance company itself – cushioning them against financial stress and ensuring they at least get some money back when a policyholder suffers catastrophic medical issues. Remember, insurers lose money when their policyholders get seriously ill – and they make money when policyholders remain healthy. Insurance companies also claim that deductibles help make sure that each client has “skin in the game” and feel accountable for their own health. In the end, it’s all about the company’s bottom line.
While there may be some justification for deductibles, copays are simply due to the insurance industry’s pursuit of profits. These are basically additional deductibles that discourage people from actually using medical services since there is always some cost involved. The end result is that the insurance company receives even more money while people avoid using the medical services that they’re covered for.
Insurance companies justify this by stating that if it weren’t for copays, people would frivolously use medical services even if they didn’t need them. But very few people would actually engage in such illogical behavior, and this is essentially just an excuse to charge policyholders more.
But that’s not the whole story. It’s also worth mentioning that copays disproportionately affect people with low incomes. While a wealthy individual won’t think twice before paying a $30 copay, someone on the poverty line might avoid crucial medical treatment because they need that $30 to heat their home or purchase their groceries.
How Christian healthcare helps people pay for medical bills
So what makes a Christian healthcare ministry different? First of all, it’s important to note that all of these health-sharing systems are not the same as health insurance – but they follow many of the same basic principles.
Just like premiums, Christians pay monthly fees each month that go towards one central pot of money. When a member needs medical treatment, the organization decides whether these expenses should be paid by the entire community. If so, the necessary funds are taken from that central pot of money, and the medical bills are covered.
There is also a deductible of sorts, as members typically have to pay a certain amount of money out of their own pocket before they can ask for funding assistance. Members of a healthcare sharing ministry also tend to collectively join a preferred provider network, which means that their rates are pre-negotiated within a particular health network. However, this isn’t always the case. It’s also worth pointing out that many of these sharing ministries are less incentivized by profit margins, and some are even recognized charities.
Can only Christians become members?
If you’re looking at a sharing ministry specifically geared toward Christians, then yes – you need to be a Christian in order to join. This is because part of the appeal for members is that their monthly fees go toward other Christians in the same religious community. In addition, you should know that these sharing ministries do not cover medical services or procedures that go against Christianity.
What about care sharing plans?
On the other hand, not all sharing plans are geared toward Christians. The basic system behind a Christian health sharing ministry is based on solid financial principles, so it can be replicated without limiting access to Christians. Today, many health sharing plans are emerging as viable alternatives to traditional health insurance.
How does a member pay their share?
The specific financial obligations of each member vary depending on the organization. Each organization may also have separate plans or membership tiers that involve different costs. That said, these organizations ask members to pay monthly fees that are similar to premiums. As long as you pay these monthly fees, your medical bills may be covered by other members.
Members may also have to pay a certain amount of money before they can request assistance from the sharing plan. This is similar to a deductible. For example, members may need to pay for the first $500 of their medical costs before submitting a funding request.
Why are so many people unsatisfied with their healthcare insurance?
Average Americans are becoming increasingly unsatisfied with the mainstream insurance industry for a number of reasons. The primary source of dissatisfaction is the lack of affordability, as economic instability is putting serious pressure on families throughout the nation. Many of these families are struggling to make ends meet – but they still earn enough to disqualify themselves from federal assistance programs. Their only other option is to consider ACA health insurance, which is becoming quite costly for those who are already finding it difficult to pay for groceries and other necessities. Meanwhile, big pharmaceutical companies and the medical industry as a whole are raking in record profits.
What is an example of a health sharing organization?
If you’ve been searching for sharing health plans that aren’t based on Christian health care principles, consider CrowdHealth. Although this system uses the same basic principles as Christian healthcare sharing ministries, you don’t need to share the Christian faith in order to join. Members of all types are welcome, including seniors, single people who only need help with personal medical needs, and families. The monthly share amount can be as low as $175 per month.
Benefits include no doctor networks, zero deductibles, and an innovative crowdfunding system that allows you to seamlessly share your medical bill with each share member in a highly affordable manner.
Reach out to CrowdHealth today and speak with one of our team members to learn more about why this might be the most affordable option as you strive for a reliable healthcare solution.
Get access to our entire suite of tools that effectively and affordably helps you navigate the complex health care system.
Whether you need help finding a doctor, negotiating health bills, or getting your bills crowdfunded, our team of health care experts are on your side every step of the way.
Our community helps each other pay for medical bills instead of lining insurance companies pockets. You know exactly where your money goes with CrowdHealth.
Talk to a CrowdHealth Specialist.