Healthshares (a.k.a. health care sharing ministries) get a bad rap. Yes, some of them are rotten, but many of them provide an incredible service to their members. We have often been asked: “What is the difference between CrowdHealth and healthshares?” – so, we thought we’d put together a short comparison.
CrowdHealth is both operationally and legally different from healthshares.
If you are reading this, you are probably most interested in the operational differences, so we’ll start there.
- We crowdfund quickly. CrowdHealth is designed as a crowdfunding platform. We have a Community of people that we reach out to as soon as we have a confirmed bill that needs to be paid. We give those Members three days to accept or decline to pay for the bills from the contributions they’ve made. As soon as they accept, they pass the funds along to the Member who requested crowdfunding. If someone declines, we go and ask the next person and so on.
- Our members voluntarily give. We know, we know, healthshares say they are voluntary also. They also say that you can’t participate in the community if you don’t give. That doesn’t sound voluntary to us. Our giving is truly voluntary…but there is a catch: we let others know when you give, and when you decline to give. We calculate a “Generosity Score” based on your willingness to give. If you are a Scrooge and don’t give, others probably won’t give to you when you have a big bill that need to be crowdfunded. This reciprocity is the engine that has allowed us to crowdfund 100% of the bills from generous givers thus far. This is not a guarantee, it’s just statistics.
- We do not expect you to pay huge bills up front and then get reimbursed. We have heard that some healthshares force you to pay for your large procedures up front. Among the examples we’ve heard were pregnancies ($15,000+) and knee replacements ($30,000+). If you have a procedure that is scheduled and you give us a heads up, then we try and crowdfund the expense before you have the procedure so you have enough to for you to pay for it on the day of service. It’s more convenient for you, plus you get a better rate by paying up front.
- We will crowdfund wellness visits. We believe that preventative care is essential to long-term health and therefore long-term expense reduction. CrowdHealth will crowdfund one primary care, pediatric or OBGYN visit per member per year plus basic labs. Most healthshares do not fund wellness visits at all.
- We provide you a personal Care Advocate. Many healthshares leave you all by yourself to figure out the complex system. We provide you with a personal Care Advocate to walk alongside you through your health journeys. No longer will you call into a big call center when you need help. Instead, you can book an appointment with your Care Advocate to chat about whatever issue you have. You can even reach out via phone directly if you have an urgent matter.
- We negotiate for you. We know there’s a learning curve to navigating the healthcare system without insurance, and we do not expect you to negotiate your health bills on your own. We will negotiate them for you. As long as you let us know that you have a procedure coming up, we will call the doctor and get you an awesome rate (often 60% off the insurance price – for real!). There is no need to do that by yourself. All we ask is that you ask for the cash or “self-pay” rate when checking out.
- We don’t put a maximum on what you can fund. Most healthshares have maximum limits on all health care needs -- for example, one healthshare has a max of $250,000 per year or $1M cumulative in your lifetime as a member. CrowdHealth will crowdfund bills no matter how large. The only exception to this is for preexisting conditions, which have different terms that are clearly communicated before you’re a Member, so there are no surprises regarding those health events.
In addition to being operationally different, we are legally not a healthshare as is defined in Federal and many states legal code.
Most importantly, federal legal code (26 U.S.C. § 5000A(D)(2)(B)—US PATIENT PROTECTION AND AFFORDABLE CARE ACT) and some state codes define healthshares as organizations that share these six characteristics:
- Have a common set of “ethical or religious” beliefs
- Have been in existence prior to 1999
- Cannot kick people out for medical conditions, and
- Perform an annual audit.
CrowdHealth is not a healthshare as defined in these legal codes because:
- Faith-based? Nope. We are not a faith-based company. We love our faith-based family, friends, and employees, but you do not have to be faith-based to be a part of CrowdHealth.
- Non-Profit? Nope. We are a for-profit organization. What’s interesting about this is that most healthshares (not all) actually have for-profit organizations that are profiting off the non-profit status because the non-profit pays the for-profit to “manage” the organization. Therefore, while they are technically non-profit, there are actually for-profit incentives.
- Have a common set of “ethical or religious” beliefs? Kinda. While CrowdHealth does not have a common set of religious beliefs, all of us think that health insurance sucks, and we’re committed to being savvy and generous in finding high-quality, fairly priced health care. Does that count as a shared “ethical” belief?
- Have been in existence prior to 1999? Nope. We started after 1999.
- Cannot kick people out for medical conditions? Yep. We do not, have never, and will never kick someone out of the Community for having a medical condition while a member.
- Perform an annual audit? Yes. This is just a best business practice.
Healthshares legally must fulfill all six of these characteristics. Crowdhealth fulfills 2.5 of these.
We hope this clears up any confusion on CrowdHealth (health care crowdfunding) vs healthshares. We love our friends over at the healthshares, but we’re setting out to do something completely different.