By Nicole T | At 2019-02-18
Many consumers have bought into the Healthcare or Cost "Sharing" Industry.
Religious Organizations have banded together to offer Health or Cost-Sharing Plans. These are groups of like-minded individuals who agree to help other members, including themselves, pay their medical bills. Members will submit eligible medical bills and expect them to be paid through a collective pool of funds provided through premiums and investments. While these plans can sound attractive, as membership swells instances of either late or unpaid bills are on the rise. Some states have seen a dramatic increase in complaints about these plans to regulators, prompting officials to start exploring options to limit the scope of these operations.
These ministries are not regulated by State Insurance Commissioners. Therefore consumers who subscribe to these types of "coverage" has little recourse. Many legislators have passed bills guarding these ministries against state regulation on the grounds that the State should not interfere in religious organizations.
Unlike ACA (Obamacare) Plans, Healthcare Sharing Plans have many limitations. Most do not have coverage for pre-existing conditions or preventative services such as annual checkups, wellness visits and mammograms. Nor do they cover mental health, addiction treatment, abortions or birth control. These plans also have limits on the total amount that will be paid for any treatment.
Many ministries are non-profit or are part of religious organizations. As such, they can require that their members practice a certain faith while others have welcomed more secular members in order to boost enrollment. Top executives in these organizations can easily command six-figure salaries. In recent years it's not unheard of for them to spend upwards of 1 million dollars on advertising and promotional materials in order to attract new members.
Millions of dollars are at stake. Some of the largest ministries reported hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. I.E. Trinity Christian Health Ministries, based out of Barberton Ohio, reported $340 million in revenue according to their 2017 tax filings.
Last month, the Insurance Commissioner from Washington State ordered two affiliated entities to stop sales in that state, saying Trinity was not a legitimate Healthcare Sharing Ministry and that their promotional efforts could mislead consumers into believing their products were actual insurance.
The most prevalent complaint with these types of coverage are unpaid medical bills leading some to believe that these policies may not be the best alternative to standard Healthcare Plans.
Health Insurance is hard enough to understand, as is, without help. The best option will always be to go over all your available options with an agent that is licensed in your state.