While looking for low-cost health coverage options, you may encounter terms like health sharing ministries or healthcare-sharing ministries.

Healthcare-sharing ministries are non-insurance entities. Thus, if you are searching for health insurance, you should consider the Marketplace plan, COBRA, Medicaid, and other coverage options.  

You can find more information on how to sign up for Marketplace health coverage plans here.

What exactly is a healthcare-sharing ministry?

Simply put, healthcare-sharing ministries allow a group of people to contribute to each other’s medical bills, a practice known as cost-sharing. These people often share religious beliefs, but you don’t have to be of that faith to join. These plans are not technically considered health insurance and do not meet the minimum essential coverage requirements as specified by the Affordable Care Act. 

They do not provide the consumer protections that Obamacare health programs do. They typically do not cover pre-existing conditions and have lifetime and annual coverage maximums. Unlike traditional health insurance plans, healthcare-sharing ministries are not subject to state health insurance laws and regulations. 

Health sharing ministries may advertise themselves as “ACA-approved” or “law-abiding,” even though they do not provide the same consumer protections as ACA health insurance. This is because the ACA created a special tax exemption to health insurance penalties for individuals enlisted in these plans. It is noteworthy that most states don’t impose tax penalties for going without health coverage, so this provision is not related to most people.  

Health sharing ministries often cost more than standard health insurance 

The prices of healthcare-sharing ministries vary, but it typically costs several hundred dollars. A single 50 plus individual enlisting in Christian Care Ministry (Medi-Share) will pay $176 and $484 per month. Whereas, a family of four with 50 plus old parents will pay between $301 and $959 per month. 

The listed insurance premiums for healthcare sharing ministries tend to be cheaper than the entire costs of the Marketplace plans. Nonetheless, 9 out of 10 individuals who apply for Marketplace plans qualify for governments subsidies that make health insurance more affordable in practice. 

In 2019, most individuals who registered through InsuranceShopping had insurance premiums of less than $50 per month for their Marketplace plan after subsidies. And nearly one-fifth of all InsuranceShopping enrollees had $0 per month premiums. 

Subsidies under Obamacare do not apply to premiums for health-sharing ministries

Obamacare subsidies and tax credits available for Marketplace health insurance do not apply to premiums for healthcare-sharing ministries. 

Marketplace programs also have out-of-pocket maximums that limit the amount you pay upfront in a given year before the health plan covers your remaining costs. On the other hand, many health-sharing ministries will set a yearly limit on the amount they would pay for your care– and once you reach that limit, your bills will no longer be covered. Although healthcare-sharing ministries have low monthly premiums, you may end up paying more on medical expenses depending on the care you need.   

Since healthcare-sharing ministries are religion-based non-profit organizations, they have the authority to impose religious or moral standards on their members. Your coverage may also be contingent on your continued adherence to these standards. For example, you may be denied coverage from the ministry if you have a baby, are unmarried, or are gay. Likewise, the ministry may refuse to pay for certain medical expenses if they do not meet the ministry’s moral standards. This means that healthcare-sharing ministries do not pay for services such as fertility treatment, birth control, mental healthcare, HIV/AIDS treatment, or medical care for pregnancies outside of marriage.  

Some central healthcare-sharing ministries include Christian Health Ministries, Samaritan Ministries, Liberty Healthshare, Christian Care Ministry, Trinity Healthshare, Altrua Healthshare, and Aliera Healthcare. 

What other health insurance options do I have?

You have numerous other health coverage options.

i) Marketplace or Obamacare plan:

You can sign up for Marketplace insurance coverage, known as the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare health insurance. See programs and prices here.

ii) Medicaid

You may qualify for Medicaid insurance depending on your income. Check your eligibility for a Medicaid plan through InsuranceShopping and enroll right away.

iii) COBRA coverage

If you recently left your job and want to keep your existing employer-sponsored insurance, you have the option of COBRA coverage. COBRA insurance is typically more expensive than Marketplace insurance, but it allows you to keep the coverage you already had. Learn more about the differences between COBRA and Obamacare health insurance. 

iv) Medicare

Once you reach the age of 65, you become eligible for Medicare coverage. Call us to sign up at +1 855-913-1570. 

If you have any questions about health insurance coverage, please visit our site, InsuranceShopping.com.