Health insurance is an unavoidable requirement – this is an undisputable fact. Another unavoidable fact is that health insurance premium is rising by every minute and is getting unaffordable for many of us. Thus many of us are looking for substantial ways to cut off their health care cost. People are taking general health insurance in place of comprehensive plans as this does not requires heavy premium.
Some people are increasing deductibles, taking more risk rather than transferring it on the insurance company, eliminating co pays etc. What ever way one is opting, the primary goal is to sustain the cost and reduce it considerably. At such time one solution which comes shining out is Christian ‘Sharing’ plan for health care.
Meaning of “Sharing”
First we need to understand what is a Christian ‘sharing’ plan for health care? In this plan a group of few members are created and all the participants involved in the plan bear the partial liability of paying the medical expense of the fellow members. The partial contribution that every member is liable to pay is arrived be averaging the cost of medical health care and then dividing it among the members of the group.
This amount is to be paid on monthly basis however the point to take note is that instead of pooling this monthly amount, each participant sends the money directly to the fellow member who might be in the current need of the money.
Effects of “Sharing”
This certainly gives much confidence to participants both ways. As a donor the individual feels more satisfied as his contribution is directly going to a fellow Christian in need and as a receiver they are more confident of receiving a claim for their medical expense. The terms of enrollment to this program however remains the same as in the case of general Christian health insurance plan.
However these plans have other adverse consequences as well. First and foremost they are not legal insurance plan and hence do not abide any member legally for paying the contribution. This fact creates lot of issue while settling a claim. Members are often doubtful of their claims not being paid on time or not being paid at all. Since they are not insurance hence they are not regulated by any state’s insurance department.
The legal aspects of Christian medical bill sharing plans, has left judges, regulators and legislators wondering whether this qualifies in the category of being insurance. Legally any plan can not come in the category of insurance if it doesn’t have premiums paid and claims settled.
However some of the state legislations have passed exemption for religious organizations dealing with Christian ‘sharing’ plans for health insurance on the basis that these non profit organizations benefit people who often are unable to afford the health insurance otherwise. The Cover Florida health Reform plan can be stated as a perfect example of this exemption.
This plan included amendment for exclusion of faith based health care programs from state insurance regulation, provided the participating group qualifies under federal guidelines of being a non profit religious organization.
Hence we may conclude that Christian ‘Sharing’ plans for health care has both advantages and disadvantages. Yet with government now approving and qualifying them in the legal insurance category these health plans are slowly and steadily becoming quite popular.