Health care sharing ministries aren’t legally insurance companies, they don’t technically offer “coverage contracts,” instead they promise to shift monies from one member to another to “share” costs.
“Health insurance is an actuarial contract,” says James Lansberry, Samaritan’s executive vice president and also president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, a trade organization. “People buy policies and health insurance promises to pay out claims and makes contracts with doctors and hospitals. They are regulated by the department of insurance in whatever state they’re in.”
By contrast, Lansberry says, “health-care sharing ministries make no promises or guarantees. We are faith-based ministries that deal with what has happened rather than what might happen. Members share in each other’s bills after they have already occurred.”
After incurring a medical expense deemed eligible under the sharing organization’s guidelines, members submit these bills or “needs” to the ministry, which manages the redistribution of members’ monthly payments to the appropriate households. Samaritan simply instructs members to send their monthly share checks directly to other members in need, whereas the other two programs collect and redistribute monthly contributions.
Members are in turn responsible for paying their medical bills directly. “Hospitals and doctors treat them as self-pay patients,” Lansberry says. “We encourage them to negotiate discounts on their bills.”
In addition to members needing to negotiate their own discounts on healthcare, there are these issues:
- Exclusion of pre-existing conditions
- NO guarantee they will pay as promised
- When they do pay it is not in a lump sum; it is an unreliable payment stream over an unspecified period of time
- Medical care can be difficult to get because Christian Sharing is set up as reimbursement – so if you can’t afford to pay for care upfront many providers will not accept you as a patient
But I WANT to Join A Christian Sharing Ministry
If you want to participate in a Sharing Ministry we suggest to our clients that they back up their participation with real insurance. Here’s how we set that up:
- Put the family on on one of our pre-qualified Short Term Medical Plans (or smarter still – combine the Short Term Medical Plan with our Fixed Benefits-Gap-Living Benefits Program). It is REAL Insurance, and its AFFORDABLE and we have a 12 month program available for 2018.
- Purchase Christian Healthcare Ministries. It is Christian Sharing but at a much lower cost.
Under this structure you and your family have real insurance coverage AND SHARING — so you have best of both worlds not just the faith based promise.
To learn more call us at now at 1-800-257-1723. We’ll be happy to design a program that fits your personal goals!