What’s the Deal with Health Ministries, and How Do They Affect Healthcare?

What Are Health Ministries?

Also known as “HCSMs,” health care sharing ministries are becoming increasingly popular in the modern era. By taking advantage of new, innovative technology, these ministries serve as a viable alternative to the traditional health insurance system. 

Technically, a health ministry isn’t a form of insurance at all, but rather a cost-sharing organization that may use a range of methods to lower costs for their members – including new crowdfunding technology. 

Often, health ministries are structured around a particular faith community – and indeed the very first health ministries were based on foundations set up by religious communities. The very first health ministries can be traced back to the early 1900s in Amish and Mennonite communities. However, the actual financial and organizational mechanisms behind these ministries have nothing to do with religion. 

This means that the same basic principles can be used to create cost-sharing, crowdfunding insurance alternatives for people from all walks of life. Many of the newest and most innovative health ministries and crowdfunding organizations have nothing to do with faith groups or specific religions. 

So how do health ministries actually work?

Each member pays monthly fees to the organization. These fees can be used to cover the medical costs incurred by other members. Many observers have compared these monthly fees to insurance premiums, but it’s important to understand that a health ministry is not an insurance company. In addition, your monthly fees for an organization like CrowdHealth may be much lower than the premiums you would pay for a traditional insurance policy. 

And… that’s pretty much it. The basic principles are actually very simple. Every member pays their dues, and in turn, the entire “community” has enough money to cover the medical treatment of its members. 

That being said, each one of these organizations has its own unique way of doing things. For example, CrowdHealth members don’t need to worry about doctor networks – a common issue associated with many insurance providers and even some health ministries. Using an innovative crowdfunding technology, CrowdHealth offers $0 deductibles and monthly fees that are far lower than the premiums of a typical health insurance plan. Additional benefits include personal care advocacy, discounted prescriptions, unlimited talk therapy, and unlimited virtual health.

CrowdHealth will even negotiate your medical bills for you to lessen your financial burdens as much as possible. These unique features show that each cost-sharing organization can vary greatly, and it doesn’t really make sense to lump them all together in one category. 

That being said, all cost-sharing health ministries share some basic features. For example, none of these organizations need to follow the requirements set forth by the Affordable Care Act. These companies also don’t need to worry about regulations set forth by state insurance agencies.

How might health ministries affect my healthcare?

So why might someone choose a health ministry instead of a traditional health insurance plan? How might this choice affect your own healthcare? First of all, your monthly payments may be much lower than the premiums set forth in a traditional plan. This allows you to save more money, which is always a good thing as the price of living continues to rise. You might find that you have a little extra cash to spend on nutritious groceries and other healthy lifestyle choices which can serve as preventative medicine. 

Another important consideration is that there is no need to pay deductibles with these organizations. Instead, you typically agree to pay an “annual unshared amount” before your crowdfunding assistance kicks in. Once again, this annual unshared amount is cost-effective because it is typically lower than any deductible you would pay via a traditional plan. 

So is this the right choice for you? Well, only you can answer that question. Everyone’s health needs differ, and health ministries might be more attractive to some individuals than others. That being said, these health ministries are becoming increasingly popular and offer real cost-saving benefits for many Americans. 

One of the real downsides of health insurance is that you’re essentially paying for other people’s unhealthy lifestyles. Let’s say you decide to take your personal health very seriously. You never smoke, you rarely drink, you eat the healthiest diet possible, and you get plenty of exercise. Because of these actions, you might not need serious medical attention for many years. On the other hand, there might be someone within your health insurance network who is constantly in hospital for things like diabetes, lung cancer, liver failure, and a variety of other issues that can all be caused by unhealthy lifestyle choices. 

Will an HCSM cover my trip to the clinic?

The majority of Americans believe that people who make unhealthy lifestyle choices should be required to pay more for health insurance. After all, this is exactly how the car insurance system works. If you drive badly and get into a lot of accidents, your premiums go up. The insurance industry in its current state places a significant burden on those living healthy lifestyles, forcing them to pay for the treatment of people who are not taking their own healthcare seriously. 

If you’re a healthy, young individual who makes positive life choices, it may make more sense to choose a health ministry and keep your costs as low as possible rather than join a health insurance plan. Indeed, many people are complaining that healthy individuals are leaving traditional health insurance behind in favor of options like CrowdHealth. These critics claim that this makes health insurance more expensive for everyone else. But is it really fair to ask healthy people to pay for the treatment of those who have repeatedly made poor lifestyle decisions? This is perhaps a debate for another article – but it shows why health ministries and crowdfunding models are becoming so popular.

Health ministries can cover trips to your family doctor, your local pharmacy, a nearby health center, a hospital, and many other healthcare needs. That being said, each organization is slightly different, and you’ll need to carefully read the fine print to make sure what is and isn’t covered. For example, some organizations don’t cover things like preventative care or treatment for pre-existing conditions.

Which insurance alternative should I choose?

If you’re interested in researching health ministries and medical crowdfunding organizations, consider reaching out to CrowdHealth. Our team members will be happy to answer any questions you might have, and we can explain how our system works in much more detail. You might find that this serves as an excellent alternative to the health insurance system based on your personal needs – whether you’re looking for temporary or long-term health care coverage.

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