HealthSharing: an Alternative to Insurance & Complement to DPC
Imagine having a great job, but your employer doesn’t provide health insurance. You search for an ‘affordable’ marketplace plan but can’t even afford the catastrophic offering. And to top it off you are fined for not having insurance.* Does that scenario sound familiar to you or someone you know? As if being uninsured isn’t stressful enough, this lengthy and endless cycle of searching for health insurance plays out over and over again for many Americans. But there is actually an affordable, honest and safe alternative to traditional insurance called Health Sharing. With rising costs of health insurance, people are becoming more interested in these health shares. So what exactly is a health share?
Health Shares (sometimes referred to as sharing ‘ministries’) facilitate the sharing of health care costs among individuals, couples, families, churches and organizations. While there are some religious based organizations there are also ‘ethical’ based health shares, that require members to agree to living a ‘healthy lifestyle.’ Members contribute monthly into an escrow account and the health share acts as a neutral escrow agent for members.
Typically, members’ needs are shared according to organizational guidelines. While many doctors offices don’t accept health shares as insurance, members are given self-paid discounts from providers and are eventually reimbursed by the organization. Similar to learning about Direct Primary Care, education empowers people to broaden their healthcare options.
These companies share catastrophic bills to provide financial relief beyond a certain point at a much much lower price, usually at least 50% less expensive for the monthly cost compared to commercial insurance agencies. Health Shares generally do not cover preventive and wellness costs, which is part of why they cost so much less. This is also why they pair so well with Direct Primary Care, as a fixed-fee bundled primary care service. Grand Teton Health and Primary Care is complemented by Health Share programs, saving patients money without sacrificing care. And because they recognize the value of direct primary care in lowering healthcare costs, some of the Health Shares, including Liberty and Sedera, actually give discounts or reimbursements for members of a Direct Primary Care practice.
*Members of a recognized Health Care Sharing Ministry are exempt from the mandate to purchase health insurance by 2014 or face financial penalties. Enrollment with a recognized Health Care Sharing Ministry removes your requirement under the healthcare mandate to purchase health insurance and also removes the penalty- Altura HealthShare
*Starting in 2019 there will no longer be any tax penalties for not to have insurance.