8 Reasons Why This Cheaper Alternative Might Help Control Your Soaring Health Care Expenses

woman seeing doctor

A healthshare is an alternative to a traditional health care plan. | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Have you ever heard of a medical healthshare? When the Affordable Care Act went into effect back in 2010, it caused a lot of health care controversy. Some Americans didn’t feel comfortable paying a penalty for not purchasing health insurance, or they weren’t able to find a health care plan that worked for them.

Healthshares are an alternative to traditional health care. The four leading healthshare companies are aligned with similar structures, and the premise is straightforward. Each sharing member or family pays their initial membership fee ($125 to $200). You pay a set amount per month (like a premium) into a “Sharebox” that goes toward the cost of members’ medical expenses. When your turn rolls around for needing your medical expenses paid, you’ll become the recipient of the Sharebox once you’ve met your annual unshared amount (deductible). The coverage equals up to $1 million per eligible incident.

This alternative might not be for everyone. However, it could be a much cheaper alternative than your current health care. The monthly cost ranges from $107 for an individual up to $449 for a family. As always, it’s important to read the fine print, but here are a handful of ways these healthshares might be the cheaper alternative for you.

1. Always open enrollment

Opposite of insurance companies, you can apply and become a sharing member year-round. There is no open enrollment period. There is a medical questionnaire to complete, but it is straightforward. All four healthshare companies — Liberty Healthshare, Medi-Share, Christian Healthcare Ministries, and Samaritan — fall under the umbrella of Gospel Light Mennonite Church Medical Aid Plan. Are you wondering what’s with the religious connotation? The guiding force of these healthshares is religious-based. As a result, they require all members to care for their bodies through leading a healthy lifestyle, avoiding tobacco and abusing alcohol, worshiping in any way you’d like, and helping your fellow man.

2. Exempt from Obamacare

obamacare sign

You won’t have to pay any penalties under the Affordable Care Act. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Every sharing member is exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s penalty program. To boot, there’s only a handful of exempted parties in the nation. Considering that this penalty could cost you and your family 2.5% of your household income up to a $2,085 maximum per month, it’s important to avoid that expense at all cost.

3. Coverage

nurse in hospital with patient in bed

Hospital charges are covered. | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

All of the following medical expenses are covered, according to MedicalCostShare.com:

  • Hospital charges
  • Physicians services
  • ER visits
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Physical, speech, and occupational therapies
  • Home health care
  • Ambulance
  • Prosthetics
  • Vaccinations
  • Plastic reconstructive surgery based on medical need
  • Medical costs outside U.S.

4. Wellness screenings and natural treatments

doctor taking blood pressure

You can get an annual wellness screen. | iStock

Each year, you’ll be able to get an annual wellness screening, along with pap tests, as routine preventative care. Furthermore, Liberty and Samaritan healthshares support alternative and natural medical treatments. Because of that, you can finally have that acupuncture covered.

5. No network requirements

money with stethoscope

Most providers will bill your healthshare directly. | iStock

Do you like the idea of choosing your own health care provider? To no surprise, most people do. This is the beauty of healthshares. Nine out of 10 health care providers are already familiar with healthshares, according to MedicalCostShare.com. You present your healthshare card, and typically the company will be billed directly. If the provider you choose isn’t familiar, you simply submit the bill to your healthshare, and it will pay the bill or reimburse you.

6. Prescriptions

spilled pill bottle

There are different tiers of prescriptions. | iStock

The healthshares have developed a model for controlling the cost of prescriptions for their members. There are four different tiers. Depending on where your prescribed medication falls — Tier 1, Tier 2, or Tier 3 — you pay $10, $20, or $50 per prescription. That cost is out of your pocket. If your prescription falls in Tier 4, it might be eligible for sharing.

7. Medicare and healthshares can work together

senior woman with doctor

It could work for seniors. | Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Our senior citizens are covered by Medicare. However with the changes to our health care options, some costs of medical treatment might not be fully covered. Liberty Healthshare is willing to work with seniors to cover the costs associated with medical care not covered by Medicare.

8. Pre-existing conditions

Doctor and patient

The plans will work with pre-existing conditions. | daizuoxin/iStock

Do you have a pre-existing condition? Healthshares accept 97% of members with a pre-existing condition, albeit they handle things a little differently. During the first year of your membership, you won’t be eligible for cost sharing associated with the condition. Years two and three, you’re able to reap the benefits of cost sharing up to $50,000. From year four onward, you’re able to receive full benefits associated with your condition.

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