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What is a medical sharing plan? Is it a good idea?

There are several “Health Care Sharing” options, but none of them provide “Credible Coverage”. Here’s how they work:

Each person or family is required to pay a monthly fee (this is NOT a premium). This monthly fee pays the health care costs of other families in the program. When you need health care, the money comes from this fund as well. In addition to their monthly fees, members are encouraged to give further money in order to help pay for the treatments of others. This is necessary because medical costs are high and the monthly fees are low.

None of these organizations will guarantee that your medical bills will be paid. This is very different from traditional insurance, and it can get very dangerous. Take this example.

Couple A needs emergency care. Upon arrival at the ER, they present their card, and the hospital discounts the bill per the prearranged discounts. The hospital sends the bill to the health share company, who then examines the bill to determine if they will share the expense. (This is a faith-based option, so several moral issues will preclude services being shared. If the health problem involves tobacco, alcohol, or a sexually transmitted disease, the bill is not likely to be covered.)

If the health share company accepts the bill and agrees to pay for the services, Couple A is required to pay the deductible. Then, the remainder of the bill is published for other members to contribute those extra dollars we talked about earlier. Obviously this will take some time!

So, after Couple A has received their emergency care, the hospital sends a bill for the remaining amount due. The sharing hasn’t been fully funded, so the couple must pay out-of-pocket and hope that their sharing community will pay for the rest of it. In the worst-case scenario, the bill may be sent to collections. The couple may be sued because they cannot afford to pay the bill while the health share company tries to gather funds.

Here’s the bottom line: health share companies can put you under undue financial risk. Traditional healthcare is available, and these insurance companies operate under laws and regulations to protect you and your family.

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