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Health Sharing Ministries/Plans. Anyone using?

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  • Health Sharing Ministries/Plans. Anyone using?

    Recently quit my job and contemplating launching a low volume low overhead DPC practice (vs just slowly going to seed in my current state of semi-retirement, lol), and trying to plot best course forward regarding health insurance.

    Married with no kids. Wife (47) and me (52) both in decent health. Non-smokers, no chronic meds, blah blah blah.

    To cover both of us;
    COBRA from my job will run about $1800 per month.
    High Deductable plan with HSA about half that
    Health Sharing from outfits like Liberty Health Sharing, Sedara, etc., about half that

    COBRA seems absurdly high to me, so torn between the other two.

    Anyone here have any experience with Health Sharing plans? Pros/Cons?

    Thanks for any insight!

  • #2
    There's been discussion about these before in the past. You can search to bring up old threads. In short, be careful as these aren't considered (and shouldn't be mistaken for) insurance.

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    • #3
      If you can't afford actual health insurance, you can't afford to retire.

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      • #4
        In my humble personal opinion, these health sharing ministries are super sketchy. I wouldn't trust my spouse or my kids' health on whether these things choose to pay out or not.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by wideopenspaces View Post
          If you can't afford actual health insurance, you can't afford to retire.
          While I don't completely agree with this, I don't completely disagree either.
          Anyway, I'm not really planning to full on retire at present.
          As mentioned, contemplating going solo with a DPC practice and just wanting to make sure I'm not spending more money than needed on a product I hope I never need to use.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by DrSam View Post

            While I don't completely agree with this, I don't completely disagree either.
            Anyway, I'm not really planning to full on retire at present.
            As mentioned, contemplating going solo with a DPC practice and just wanting to make sure I'm not spending more money than needed on a product I hope I never need to use.
            I just mean that any plan that doesn't allow you to afford health insurance must be altered. The health sharing plans aren't insurance, plain and simple. There are many things you can skimp on but health insurance isn't one of them.

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            • #7
              I don’t know what the fine print on the cobra vs the high deductible plan is but in your situation I’d probably go with the latter. $900/month sounds very reasonable to me, and I’d rather pay the high deductible if/when I need it esp since no chronic health issues—so some years you may have very low costs. Vs paying for the higher coverage policy and not using the benefits it offers. Basically you need coverage for catastrophe happening. Which I would never rely on the health sharing plans to cover.

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              • #8
                As the name implies, short-term policies offer health coverage for less than one year. Typically these policiesoffer fewer covered benefits and consumer protections compared to plans that meet all Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards. As a result, short-term policies generally have lower premiums.

                Suggest ACA compliant plan.
                Cobra or high deductible.

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                • #9
                  I talk with my patients about those ministries all the time. The ones that reimburse for patient medical expenses usual pay in 4-6 months. Patients seem to be happy with them but I have never talked to anyone that had any truly huge expenses (over 100k). Those seem like the biggest concerns

                  specifically with liberty health shares. Our practice has stopped accepting liberty since they stopped paying us for medical claims. When we contact them, they say they are waiting for funds. You don’t want to hear that from an insurance company

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by HandFellow View Post
                    I talk with my patients about those ministries all the time. The ones that reimburse for patient medical expenses usual pay in 4-6 months. Patients seem to be happy with them but I have never talked to anyone that had any truly huge expenses (over 100k). Those seem like the biggest concerns

                    specifically with liberty health shares. Our practice has stopped accepting liberty since they stopped paying us for medical claims. When we contact them, they say they are waiting for funds. You don’t want to hear that from an insurance company
                    Ha ha. No, "waiting for funds" isn't what you want to hear from anyone that owes you money.

                    I know a couple of independent doctors who are health sharing members rather than having traditional insurance and both express being happy with their plans, but as you mention, they haven't had any major med costs to give their plans a "stress test".

                    I did find one blog post...can't remember the exact name of the blog, but it was something along the lines of "Millennial Finance", that really bashed on the health sharing plans, basically saying they don't meet the same requirements of ACA compliant insurance and therefore aren't reliable, etc. In the comments section of the post, quite a few people said he was full of crap and that they had good experiences with their plans.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DrSam View Post
                      As mentioned, contemplating going solo with a DPC practice and just wanting to make sure I'm not spending more money than needed on a product I hope I never need to use.
                      Insurance is all about spending money in order to insure against having to spend A LOT more money in case something goes wrong. There's nothing that could derail a retirement like being underinsured and having a prolonged ICU stay and ending up disabled.

                      Originally posted by DrSam View Post
                      I did find one blog post...can't remember the exact name of the blog, but it was something along the lines of "Millennial Finance", that really bashed on the health sharing plans, basically saying they don't meet the same requirements of ACA compliant insurance and therefore aren't reliable, etc. In the comments section of the post, quite a few people said he was full of crap and that they had good experiences with their plans.
                      They don't meet insurance requirements because...wait for it...they aren't insurance products. Any of the health sharing ministries could not pay any claim and you'd have no recourse.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by CordMcNally View Post

                        Insurance is all about spending money in order to insure against having to spend A LOT more money in case something goes wrong. There's nothing that could derail a retirement like being underinsured and having a prolonged ICU stay and ending up disabled.



                        They don't meet insurance requirements because...wait for it...they aren't insurance products. Any of the health sharing ministries could not pay any claim and you'd have no recourse.
                        I get what you are saying and don't disagree with regards to what insurance is all about.

                        That said, ACA requirements in my opinion seem to specifically NOT get what insurance is supposed to be. From the little bit of research I've done on the topic, one of the big complaints against health sharing plans is that they don't initially cover pre-existing conditions the way ACA requires for compliant insurance plans. Typically, it seems that they will start to cover pre-existing chronic conditions after a year or so, which prior to passage of ACA is what traditional insurance plans did as well. Now that traditional insurance is required to give full coverage of such conditions from the start, the Affordable Care Act has....wait for it... made them a lot less Affordable.

                        Other than being a bit obese (hey, I'm working on it!), my wife and I don't have any known pre-existing conditions. Not crazy about the idea of paying premiums set at a level of assuming that we do have such conditions.

                        Imagine if the law stated that you could purchase homeowner's insurance after the tornado hits and the insurance company is required to cover the pre-existing tornado damage. I suspect homeowners insurance would suddenly get a bit more pricey as well.

                        I'm not disputing what you are saying about the potential that a health sharing ministry might not pay a claim. That is my main worry as well, and really why I posted my initial inquiry, to see if perhaps others had personal experience in this regard that they could share. For what it's worth, I've never, ever, ever, heard of an insurance company refusing to pay a claim. Nope, that never happens. Nobody has ever been told "Sorry, that ER you went to when you were having your heart attack isn't in our network. You'll have to pay that one out of pocket."

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                        • #13
                          The ER visit was covered, it was the consult doctors and xrays and tests that were billed separate! The $250 was covered.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by DrSam View Post
                            I'm not disputing what you are saying about the potential that a health sharing ministry might not pay a claim. That is my main worry as well, and really why I posted my initial inquiry, to see if perhaps others had personal experience in this regard that they could share. For what it's worth, I've never, ever, ever, heard of an insurance company refusing to pay a claim. Nope, that never happens. Nobody has ever been told "Sorry, that ER you went to when you were having your heart attack isn't in our network. You'll have to pay that one out of pocket."
                            I'm not an insurance company sympathizer but your insurance spells out what is and isn't covered. You can always find out who/what is and isn't in-network. I understand the difficulties in an emergency but the point is that insurance is a well regulated industry. Health sharing ministries have zero oversight. None.

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                            • #15
                              https://www.advisory.com/daily-brief...lth-ministries

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