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What is a Health Care Sharing Ministry?

A Health Care Sharing Ministry (HCSM) is a non-profit organization that facilitates the sharing of qualifying healthcare costs between individual members who have common ethical or religious beliefs. HCSMs have been around for several decades, and have been a trusted option for healthcare protection by consumers across the nation. Monthly membership fees are collected and distributed to help pay members’ medical costs. Members of HCSMs founded before January 1, 2000 are exempt from the individual responsibility tax penalty of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare)

How Are Health Care Sharing Ministries different from traditional health insurance?

Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs) operate similar to health insurance companies in that they both help pay for members’ qualified healthcare costs. Unlike a health insurance company, an HCSM does not accept risk or make guarantees, instead medical costs are “shared” between members. HCSMs are not government regulated. Health insurance companies are. Health insurance companies offering Affordable Care Act insurance must take all people who apply, but HCSMs only accept members who are like-minded regarding religious or ethical beliefs, those beliefs can differ among HCSMs. Health insurance companies have provider networks that can be very restrictive while HCSMs have open or very broad provider networks.

Eligible expenses shared via HCSMs include a range of doctor, specialist and hospital services, preventative care, and maternity. Often, medical services for pre-existing conditions become eligible after a year or more of membership or at a staggered rate. HCSMs offer an affordable and community-based option for consumers seeking to manage healthcare expenses and protect their health.