Christian Healthsharing Ministries: Answers to Common Questions
More Christians are choosing to join a healthcare-sharing program instead of traditional health insurance. Not only is it more affordable, but a Christian healthsharing ministry also empowers members to take charge of their own healthcare while receiving support from a like-minded community. To decide if a faith-based healthsharing program is right for you, check out these answers to common questions about joining a healthcare ministry.
What is a Christian healthsharing program?
It is a Christian-based alternative to traditional health insurance. Members make monthly contributions, which are called “monthly shares,” that vary based on the healthsharing program they choose. These contributions are used to share in the eligible medical expenses of others in the faith-based group. A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, such as Liberty HealthShare, facilitates this voluntary sharing among members. It empowers members to put their trust in a Christian community rather than insurance companies or the government.
What’s the difference between a Christian healthsharing ministry, like Liberty HealthShare, and traditional health insurance?
Healthsharing is not insurance. It’s a member-based community of believers who share one another’s eligible medical expenses. Christian healthsharing programs offer members an affordable way to break free from traditional health insurance and take control of their own healthcare. It’s important to note that healthcare-sharing ministries aren’t regulated by state insurance regulators and are not allowed to “promise” that your medical expenses will be shared. Some, however, do have appeals processes in place if you disagree with a decision.
Liberty HealthShare Traditional Healthcare
Lower monthly contributions High premiums and deductibles
Determine cost-effective options Pay more if out-of-network
No network; choose any doctor Choose from a limited network
Find treatments anywhere Eligibility may hinge on your location
No referrals needed May need referrals
Supported by a Christian community Handle everything on your own
Non-profit Christian ministry Profits go to big insurance companies
What are the advantages of healthcare sharing?
There are many advantages to joining a Christian healthsharing ministry such as Liberty HealthShare. But to keep it simple, here are 3 top benefits:
- Save Money – There are a variety of affordable sharing programs from which to choose. Plus, you’ll have the resources to find fair and reasonable healthcare pricing.
- More Choices and Control – You have the freedom to choose your program and your healthcare providers. Plus, a secure online portal lets you track where your money goes.
- Belong to a Christian Community – Join 100,000+ members who believe in maintaining a Christian lifestyle, being good stewards of their health and resources, and helping others.
How does a Christian healthshare ministry work?
Members choose the healthsharing program that works best for them based on factors such as age, family size and available resources. Each month, members contribute a monthly share amount based on their chosen program. Once the share is sent, Liberty HealthShare matches it to other members who’ve submitted eligible medical expenses. All sharing takes place via a secure online portal.
How strict are the religious requirements?
A Christian healthsharing ministry is based on shared ethical and religious beliefs. It’s designed for people who maintain a Christian lifestyle. This means that members must agree to:
- Observe Christian Standards – such as living by biblical principles
- Accept Shared Beliefs – such as the spiritual and ethical duty to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid foods, behaviors or habits that produce sickness or disease
- Maintain a Christian Lifestyle – such as following scriptural teachings on the use of alcohol
View a list of qualifications and requirements.
Do Christian healthshare ministries require premiums, co-pays or deductibles?
Faith-based medical cost-sharing programs do require a monthly payment. However, it’s not called a premium. It’s referred to as a “Monthly Share Amount” and is voluntary. With Liberty HealthShare, a monthly contribution starts as low as $119 a month for a single individual, but varies based on your age, family size and the sharing program you choose.
Deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses do not exist in healthsharing. The programs do have an “Annual Unshared Amount (AUA)” or “Personal Responsibility” amount. This is the amount you’re responsible for before sharing can take place. With Liberty HealthShare, AUAs vary based on the chosen program.
What expenses are eligible for sharing in a Christian healthsharing ministry?
A faith-based community has an ethical obligation to fellow members. Upholding Christian principles and values helps prevent unnecessary financial burdens on members. That’s why only medical expenses associated with healthy lifestyle choices are eligible for sharing.
- Wellness and screening appointments
- Ancillary therapies
- Physical and clinic visits
- Home health care
- TeleHealth visits
- Medical testing
- Ambulance transport
- Urgent care
- Emergency care
- Surgery and hospital care
- Prenatal and maternity care
Restrictions apply, including pre-existing conditions. Not all expenses are eligible for sharing in the Liberty Rise and Liberty Assist sharing programs. See Sharing Guidelines for complete details.
Can I keep my doctor with a Christian healthshare program?
Absolutely! That’s a huge benefit of joining a Christian healthcare ministry like Liberty HealthShare. You have the freedom to choose any doctor, specialist and medical facility. You’re not limited to a network or location. Plus, there are no referrals needed. If you like your doctor … keep your doctor. You’re in control.
Does faith-based healthcare cover the essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA)?
Christian healthcare sharing ministries, because they are not insurance, don’t have to adhere to the coverage mandates in the ACA. However, a faith-based health ministry like Liberty HealthShare must meet the following requirements to be ACA compliant:
- Members must share common ethical or religious beliefs
- Programs can’t be different based on where people work or live
- Medical costs must be shared among members, regardless of the state they live in
- Members can’t lose their membership if they develop a medical condition, but they can be unenrolled if they don’t share their monthly contributions
- Must have been in existence since 1999
- Plans must be audited once a year, and the results made public
Is there a tax penalty or Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalty for healthcare cost sharing?
The federal penalty for not having health insurance ended in 2018. Five states (California, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Vermont) and the District of Columbia require proof of health insurance coverage on annual state taxes. However, members of Christian healthsharing ministries are exempt from individual state mandates. Check out your state’s tax information for details or talk to a local tax advisor if you have questions.
Can I use a Health Savings Account (HSA) or Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) along with a Christian healthsharing program?
Yes. You can use a medical cost-sharing program, like Liberty HealthShare, along with an HSA or HRA to help manage your healthcare expenses and keep costs affordable. However, you must also have a MEC (minimum essential coverage) insurance plan or a high-deductible plan (HDHP) to be eligible for an HSA or HRA.