Patients cut costs with faith-based health plans

Increasingly, consumer premiums are going up, along with deductibles. In an effort to fight this trend, some consumers are enrolling in faith-based alternatives to health insurance, under which charitable ministries collect monthly contributions and disburse them to pay medical bills. For example, Christian care Medi-Share collects $459 per month, and in exchange, gives members help on costs above $250 and up to $1 million. Unlike traditional health insurance plans, members carry most or all of the choice of day-to-day care, such as primary care visits, but don't seem to mind given their comparative low monthly contributions. This option is particularly attractive to small businesses, which are having great difficulty carrying premiums for traditional insurance.

Other competitors in this arena include Samaritan Ministries and Christian Healthcare Ministries, which serve about 120,000 patients from California to the Carolinas. In each case, officials stress that they're a "ministry," not insurance, which theoretically shields them from the supervision of state insurance regulators. All have come under scrutiny from regulators nonetheless, given that the plans don't guarantee coverage, but rather, only pay out if members faithfully pay in. To date, however, regulators have determined that these groups are not insurance companies, and allowed them to keep operating.

To learn more about such plans:
- read this piece from The News & Observer

Related Article:
Health plan-like "bill sharing ministry" under fire. Report

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