What Makes Medical Cost Sharing Different

March 18th, 2015

As the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has mandated that all individuals have some sort of health plan, interest in different types of options has increased. Liberty HealthShare is not health insurance, but it is medical cost sharing. This type of healthcare is allowable under the ACA. However, there are some things you should understand about how medical cost sharing is different from traditional healthcare options.

Liberty HealthShare is a 501(c)3 Non-profit Organization

Medical cost sharing groups operate as nonprofit organizations that are member owned and member driven. Part of the share amount members pay each month goes toward the basic operating costs, but this is a very small amount. The remainder of the share amount goes directly toward paying the eligible medical bills of other members in the sharing group.

On the other hand, traditional healthcare plans are offered by for-profit companies. The healthcare company collects premiums and uses them to pay a variety of costs, including medical claims, advertising, operating costs, salaries, and bonuses. The remaining profit goes to the company owners, which typically include many shareholders.

Medical Cost Sharing is Voluntary

One of the interesting components of membership in a Christian healthcare ministry is that your participation each month is completely voluntary. You can choose whether or not to pay your monthly share, but the catch is that only sharing members are eligible to share their medical expenses and have their needs met. Because of this, you can see a spiritual principle in play: give and it shall be given to you. There may be a day when you need other members to share with you, so you choose now to share with those who have needs. Participation is cooperative and voluntary on an ongoing basis.

Traditional healthcare is a contractual relationship. When you join, you enter into a contract that outlines the structure of your relationship with the healthcare company. Your part of the contract is to pay your premium every month. On the basis of that premium, the healthcare company has a variety of obligations, including paying your covered medical expenses. If they fail to meet those obligations, you as the insured member have a legal recourse to force the health insurance company to hold up their end of the contract.

Relational vs. Impersonal

As a member of the Christian healthcare ministry Liberty HealthShare, you will have the chance to develop personal relationships with others in the group. Each month, you receive the name of the person who your share amount will be going to. When you send the share amount, you also have the chance to send a note of encouragement to let the person know you are thinking of them or praying for them as they recover from their medical procedure. This sharing relationship makes it much more meaningful for you when you send your share amount each month.

Healthcare companies typically do not give you the chance to get to know other members, even when your monthly premiums are used in part to fulfill the costs of their medical claims. Your membership with the healthcare plan is seen as a strictly contractual relationship, and it is impersonal in nature.

The Choice is Yours

One of the major advantages of the ACA is that it opens up many affordable options for you to choose from to fulfill the individual mandate. It is your job to understand the differences between your options, which include traditional healthcare and other types of healthcare alternatives, including medical cost sharing groups. Each has its advantages and disadvantages, and you have the freedom to choose how you want to spend your money on healthcare related costs.