Healthcare Alternatives Tangie Seals Finance Blogger influencer

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Health Insurance can be Expensive. Want Other Options?

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a massive amount of stress for many Americans who have been laid off or furloughed from their jobs due to the economic downturn caused by the crisis. What also has many people stressed (all the time, not just during a health crisis) is healthcare coverage and costs.

Healthcare has always been a hot topic for debate in the United States. There have been many calls for major healthcare reform and the coronavirus outbreak has only highlighted the limitations of America’s healthcare system. Most Americans with health coverage have health insurance through their employer, while others, like those who are self-employed or don’t have insurance through their jobs, purchase insurance via the Health Insurance Marketplace set up by the government. Regardless of how we obtain health insurance, one of the most common grievances that we hear about healthcare is that it is way too expensive!

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 crisis has left many people without insurance, due to being laid off from their jobs, thus losing their health benefits. If you’re furloughed, you may still have health coverage, but it is important to double check with your employer’s HR department to make sure you’re covered.

If you’ve lost your job entirely, you can sign up for COBRA through the healthcare marketplace, but the plans available can be very costly. You’d also need to check with to see if you qualify for special enrollment.

But, there’s another health coverage option that you may not have considered or even heard of yet, healthcare or health share ministries. Healthcare sharing groups could be the less expensive alternative that you’ve been searching for.

What are Healthcare Ministries (they are NOT Insurance)?

One major thing to be aware of is that health share ministries are NOT health insurance. They are non-profit organizations that share medical costs amongst other like-minded people.

Because I can’t emphasize this enough, I’m going to say it again, healthcare ministries are NOT insurance. They are Christian-based, non-profit alternatives to health insurance where all members pay a monthly contribution that is used to cover the medical bills of their fellow members.

Healthcare sharing ministries are generally less expensive alternatives to health insurance, but they are not a good fit for everyone. So, let’s dive into the details!

So, how does it work?

You book an appointment with the doctor of your choice. If you have traditional health insurance and you’re considering switching over to a healthcare ministry, you can usually continue seeing all of your current doctors and healthcare providers. The only difference is you’ll inform the doctor’s billing coordinator that you will be paying out of pocket, rather than using insurance to cover the cost. The healthcare ministry will guide you through negotiating the cost of your medical bills to bring the balance as low as possible.

After you’ve paid your annual household portion (similar to an insurance deductible), the healthcare ministry and other members will cover your remaining balance.

Cheaper Alternative to Health Insurance Tangie Seals Finance Blog

Cons of Healthcare Ministries

  • If you have a pre-existing condition, you may not be eligible for healthcare ministry coverage and they do reserve the right to deny coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions.
  • Ministries are not “cheap”. They could help you save money if you’re switching away from traditional health insurance, but it is likely that you’ll still end up spending several hundreds of dollars each month in health ministry contributions.

Pros of Healthcare Ministries

  • A key component of healthcare ministries is the members typically live similar spiritual beliefs and make similar lifestyle choices; such as staying away from illegal drugs and cigarettes.
  • Oftentimes, being a member of a healthcare ministry allows you to get special discounts on health care expenses because you’re able to negotiate your medical costs. Traditional health insurance does not allow you to negotiate the amount that you’re billed.
  • Your monthly contribution depends on the number of individuals in your family who need coverage and the level of coverage you want.
  • You can visit the doctor/healthcare provider of your choice.
  • Can be more affordable than health insurance.
  • Could be a good option for those who are self-employed and don’t want to pay an exorbitant amount for insurance.

Ministry Options

Medi-Share is probably the most popular health share programs. One of their highlights is that they don’t have illness or incident maximums. They also have a special add-on for senior citizens.

Liberty HealthShare offers the most comprehensive coverage and even includes immunizations as a shareable expense unlike other providers.

Samaritan Ministries operates by a different business model than other providers because members send their monthly dues to other members, rather than sending them directly Samaritan. Samaritan is a bit stricter with their eligibility requirements, including proof of church attendance, but they are known for their effective negotiation tactics and saving

Christian Healthcare Ministry is one of the oldest and most known health share ministries. They also have additional add-ons for your plan, like a safeguard against catastrophic illness or injury.

Final Thoughts

You don’t necessarily have to be a Christian, but you have to live by Christian principles. You also cannot use tobacco at all. While drinking is allowed, anyone who drinks excessively or is struggling with alcohol abuse can be denied coverage. Tobacco and alcohol related illnesses are typically not covered by healthcare ministries. So, if you have a pre-existing condition or frequently use tobacco or alcohol, this may not be the best alternative for you. However, if these things don’t apply to you, you then it could be a good option for you!

There are many people have have made the switch from traditional health insurance to healthcare ministries. They provide good coverage and can be more cost effective than health insurance for some people.

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