What Is Medical Cost Sharing?

November 22nd, 2021

Medical cost-sharing is not a new concept.  The idea behind it dates back to at least a century ago. That’s when, during hard times, Amish and Mennonite communities would combine their money to lighten the burden of individuals' debts.

Today, medical cost-sharing has evolved. Now, people who may not even know each other, but are of like-mind, rely on each other to pay their medical bills. Being a part of a Christian healthcare ministry may be perfect for you if you find traditional healthcare coverage to be too expensive, you lost your healthcare coverage, or want to break free from the constraints of traditional healthcare.

So, let’s take a look at medical cost-sharing and some of the differences between it, the Affordable Care Act, and traditional health insurance.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Health care sharing is not insurance, but the Members of Health Care Sharing Ministries are exempt from individual state mandates. under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

This comprehensive health care reform law has been around since March 2010. It’s often referred to as PPACA, or “Obamacare.” The law provides Americans who qualify with subsidies (“premium tax credits”) that lower costs for households with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level.

These provisions apply to individuals, families, businesses, insurers, tax-exempt organizations and government entities. For instance, if you purchase coverage from the health insurance marketplace, then you may be eligible for the premium tax credit. And if you’re an employer, the Affordable Care Act includes requirements for you regarding health care coverage. The size and structure of your workforce will determine your responsibility.

Traditional Healthcare Coverage

Many feel the Affordable Care Act is needed because traditional health insurance coverage payments are not always affordable. 

Plans are typically offered through an employer or a health insurance company. Some examples of plan types include:

●     Exclusive Provider Organization (EPO): These are managed care plans where services are only covered if you use doctors, specialists, or hospitals in the plan’s network (except in an emergency).

●     Health Maintenance Organization (HMO): This type of health insurance plan usually limits your coverage to care from doctors who work for or contract with the HMO. It generally won't cover out-of-network care except in an emergency. An HMO may require you to live or work in a certain service area to be eligible for coverage. HMOs often provide integrated care and focus on prevention and wellness.

●     Point of Service (POS): A type of plan where you pay less if you use doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers that belong to the plan’s network. POS plans require you to get a referral from your primary care doctor to see a specialist.

●     Preferred Provider Organization (PPO): With a PPO you will pay less if you use providers in the plan’s network. You are allowed to use doctors, hospitals, and providers outside of the network without a referral, but for an additional cost.

So, these plans cannot only be pricey, your out-of-pocket costs may vary, and the plan may come with many restrictions, too.

How Is Medical Cost Sharing Different?

Medical cost-sharing (or health care sharing ministries) works this way. Members share a common set of ethical or religious beliefs and share medical expenses among members with those beliefs. It provides you with the essential healthcare resources you need, without high health insurance premiums.

That’s because the monthly amount you’ll pay is typically much less than the full-price premiums for individual major medical coverage.  And although medical cost-sharing is not health insurance and does not count as minimum essential coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the law exempted Health Care Sharing Ministry members from the ACA’s requirement that people maintain minimum essential coverage.

Health Care Sharing Ministries are 501(c)(3) charities. That means they’re regulated by the IRS and by state attorneys general.

Liberty HealthShare

Our Christian healthcare sharing ministry is designed to facilitate the payment of your medical expenses and provide you with the joy of helping others just like you. We’re healthy, like-minded people who come together to help each other.

Giving is part of Liberty Healthshare’s simple, transparent process; your monthly share amount automatically transfers to the online account of another member with eligible medical bills.

You see where your money goes, and you can pray for and encourage the members you help. . It’s an empowering, caring way to care for yourself and others.

If you’re interested in learning more about Liberty Healthshare and how it works, contact us today. Or, you can download our Healthshare Buyer’s Guide for more information.