Tuesday, June 29, 2021

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

As lawmakers and judges continue to debate what they think is the best path forward for the American healthcare system and also as we await inevitable further legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, it’s average Americans who pay the price (literally) for the inaction of their elected officials as fewer employers are paying the cost of healthcare for their employees and even those workers making above average salaries are unable to afford the monthly cost of healthcare programs on the government-run exchanges. With increasing government involvement and cost in the health insurance industry expected to continue over the remainder of the Biden Administration, a proven and effective method of paying for medical expenses is desperately needed. Luckily, this already exists and is available nationwide.

Though it received little attention at the time, a provision in the Affordable Care Act allowed organizations known as healthcare sharing ministries to continue operating if they had been in existence prior to 1999. This may not have seemed like a big deal at the time, as concerns about a slide towards socialized healthcare took center stage but, thanks to this provision, over one million Americans currently have a way to pay for their medical expenses without the need to be enrolled in a health insurance program through the healthcare exchange. While the reason for joining a healthcare sharing ministry varies among the greater than one million Americans, many of them joined for one or more of the following reasons: Christian principles, freedom from government interference, and lower cost.


Christian Principles

From their beginning several decades ago, healthcare sharing ministries have been religious-based organizations that bring together members who practice the same religion to share the burden of medical expenses. While there are healthcare sharing ministries based on several different religions, the majority of them are based on Christian principles. In fact, each ministry has their own set of Christian beliefs or principles to which members must agree prior to becoming a member. Some ministries keep their beliefs more vague while others, such as Share HealthCare, cite specific Bible verses as the foundation for their stated beliefs. In fact, Share HealthCare goes a step further in their commitment to Christian principles, as they donate a portion of each monthly contribution to the Soweto Academy, which provides access to clean water, healthcare, and schooling for abandoned and orphaned children in Africa. For many Share HealthCare members, the idea of being able to help their fellow Christians from across the country bear the burden of medical expenses while also helping children on the other side of the world is what drew them to join the healthcare sharing ministry.

Freedom From Government Interference

Thanks to the provision in the Affordable Care Act, healthcare sharing ministries are not subjected to the same regulations that are imposed on health insurance companies that operate on the healthcare exchanges. This allows them to be more flexible in providing members and potential members with the type of healthcare program they desire. For example, Share HealthCare does not share towards medical expenses relating to abortions or sex changes because these services are not aligned with their members’ religious beliefs. This not only allows members to feel confident that their money is not being used on anything of which they would not approve, but also allows members’ monthly contributions to remain low since their funds are not being spent on medically unnecessary procedures.

Lower Costs

The monthly contribution paid by each healthcare sharing member is often substantially lower than the monthly price they would pay with a health insurance program. While nationally the average health insurance premium was over $450 per month for an individual and over $1150 per month for a family, healthcare sharing ministries are able to provide substantially lower prices. For example, Share HealthCare has an individual healthcare sharing program ranging from $149 to $299 per month and a family program ranging from $349 to $659 per month.

Similarly, with Share HealthCare, the amount that an individual member is personally responsible for paying before any sharing by fellow members takes place is as low as $3,330 per year or $300 per medical event, compared to the average deductible for an individual on health insurance exchange programs was over $4,300 in 2020.

Any of the above reasons would be a sufficient reason for many Americans to consider joining a healthcare sharing ministry. When taken together, these three reasons along with several other advantages not mentioned above make healthcare sharing a nearly irresistible option for those in need of a way to pay for their medical expenses. If you’re in the market for a new healthcare program, don’t let the government dictate what options you can choose. Healthcare sharing ministries have been operating successfully for several decades and, in a time of uncertainty in our nation, they provide an established option for consumers who want the freedom to choose for themselves.

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info@sharehealthcare.com


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