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Health Sharing Ministries/Plans. Anyone using?

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  • #16
    Here is one of the threads.
    Our passion is protecting clients and others from predatory and ignorant advisors. Fox & Co CPAs, Fox & Co Wealth Mgmt. 270-247-6087

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    • #17
      health insurance is not something I'd gamble on to save a few dollars in premiums, bc if you ever really need it (cancer/ICU stay/etc) you really will be glad you stretched for the cobra or regular insurance option over a health sharing ministry. No one thinks itll happen to them until it does. Not to mention that in some albeit rare situations, in which where you get treatment may really affect outcome (rare cancers for instance- MSKCC, MD Anderson, etc way better care than community hospital) they will require either OOP payment or insurance coverage before taking you as a patient. Given the choice I'd 100% rather go bare for car insurance (illegal in most states) than for health insurance.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by DrSam View Post

        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."
        I don't mean to be condescending here because you're a physician and I assume you know this? But you need health insurance to cover accidents, which don't care how healthy you are. And obesity is a risk factor for like every chronic condition, so . . . I'm confused why you are so sure you won't need it that you won't shell out 9k/ year to protect yourself and your wife from all the awful things that happen to people who don't have insurance. But I guess I shouldn't care more about this than you do. Good luck sorting this out.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by jfoxcpacfp View Post
          Thanks for sharing this link. When I originally posted this inquiry, the first response was that I could search to bring up old threads on this topic. I had actually tried that prior to posting, but I guess my search skills aren't great because the results I obtained had an absurdly high noise-to-signal ratio.

          For what it's worth, all the arguments against Health Sharing Ministries/Plans are things that I've already considered and wondered/worried about as well. If these concerns weren't on my mind, then I would never have posted my inquiry as the decision would be a total no-brainer.

          What I'm interested in finding is actual real-world experience from people who have enrolled in such plans. The thread you linked gets into this a little bit, but not as much as I'd like. This thread here hardly gets into that at all. Mostly just arguments against, based upon the same aforementioned theoretical concerns that I have, and which prompted me to post my initial inquiry.

          Sort of reminds me of back during my residency when I needed to buy a replacement vehicle. The year was 2003. I was considering a Hyundai. At that time, Hyundais were relatively new in the U.S. and had a fairly bad reputation. I knew that initially at least, this reputation was well deserved as the early Hyundais to come to the U.S. were sort of crappy. If I recall correctly, they were particularly prone to brake failure. I'd had friends who were Hyundai drivers in college in the late 80s and those cars were pretty cheap and crappy. Not at all solid like the '73 Buick I was driving at that time.

          Peers I talked to in 2003 were all "Heck no. Don't get a Hyundai. They're crap. Korean quality control is lousy. No good govt. oversight like we have in the U.S. Sure, it's cheaper, but is it worth it if your brakes go out during a rain storm. You'd be putting yourself and your wife at dangerous risk just to save a few bucks. If you can't afford a real car, you'd be better off just walking." Etc. etc.

          I shared their concerns, but I also remembered when I was a kid hearing the same arguments against Japanese cars. "Don't buy a rice-burner. They're crap. etc."
          I knew that the early Datsuns and Toyotas that came to the U.S. were pretty lousy compared to U.S. cars, but by the time I was an adult they were really high quality cars. Maybe Hyundais had improves some since the late 1980's.

          I wasn't sure exactly what to think of Hyundai. So, I researched it harder and harder (lot's of Yahoo searches...Google hadn't really caught on so much yet at that time), and finally managed to find some people who actually owned and drove Hyundais who could relate their actual real-world experiences. I corresponded back and forth with some via email and they almost universally said they were happy with their vehicles. Sure, Hyundai used to produce garbage, but it seemede their newer stuff was perhaps pretty good.

          So, I took a chance and purchased a used 2001 Santa Fe for $10k on Ebay. I'm still driving that car. Sure it's getting a bit long in the tooth. It's a bit rattly and clunky now. Paint is fading. Has scratches dents and dings, but I've driven that thing hard all over the U.S. It now has almost 300k miles on the Odometer (in spite of sitting in storage for over 6 years while I was practicing overseas) and still seems to be going strong and getting the job done.

          Could I have afforded a more expensive "real car" back in 2003? Yes, I could have, but in retrospect, I'm glad I went with the used Hyundai.

          What I'm trying to figure out now is whether Health Sharing Ministries/Plans are perhaps like Hyundais.

          If they are like 1980s Hyundais, I'll pass. But if they are like more modern Hyundais, but simply still have a bad reputation with people who haven't actually driven one, then they are perhaps worth considering.

          Any modern "Hyundai drivers" on WCI?

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          • #20
            "I considered healthcare sharing ministries. These are not true health insurance, but are cost sharing programs that mimic insurance in many ways.

            There are notable differences, however. Most require you to attest to religious beliefs, typically Christian. With those leanings, they typically will not cover costs related to “unholy” activities such as premarital sex, drug abuse, or excessive drinking.

            Depending on the plan, there may be a cap on how much of your healthcare costs will be shared with other members.

            On the positive side, these plans cost quite a bit less than standard health insurance and there are more than a million satisfied members of these plans, some of which have been around for decades. Also, you’re not tied to a particular group of physicians or any geographic location. There’s such thing as a facility or doctor who is “out of network.”

            While I took a close look at this option, I opted not to join.

            I’ve got kids who will soon be teenagers and I’ve been known to enjoy a beer or two. I sincerely hope we’ll never have to deal with any medical issues related the unsavory issues mentioned above, but I can’t guarantee it’ll never happen, either. Insurance is meant to be a safety net, and this type of net had too many gaping holes for this fisherman."

            From Early Retirement Checklist Part Two: Insurance, Family, and Social Considerations Prior to FIRE

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            • #21
              Originally posted by PhysicianOnFIRE View Post
              "I considered healthcare sharing ministries. These are not true health insurance, but are cost sharing programs that mimic insurance in many ways.

              There are notable differences, however. Most require you to attest to religious beliefs, typically Christian. With those leanings, they typically will not cover costs related to “unholy” activities such as premarital sex, drug abuse, or excessive drinking.

              Depending on the plan, there may be a cap on how much of your healthcare costs will be shared with other members.

              On the positive side, these plans cost quite a bit less than standard health insurance and there are more than a million satisfied members of these plans, some of which have been around for decades. Also, you’re not tied to a particular group of physicians or any geographic location. There’s such thing as a facility or doctor who is “out of network.”

              While I took a close look at this option, I opted not to join.

              I’ve got kids who will soon be teenagers and I’ve been known to enjoy a beer or two. I sincerely hope we’ll never have to deal with any medical issues related the unsavory issues mentioned above, but I can’t guarantee it’ll never happen, either. Insurance is meant to be a safety net, and this type of net had too many gaping holes for this fisherman."

              From Early Retirement Checklist Part Two: Insurance, Family, and Social Considerations Prior to FIRE
              Thanks. I had actually read this very blog post of yours previously.

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              • #22
                I wouldn't rely on the people saying "they paid for my doctors annual physical" to vote for buying one. You can afford to pay for that out of pocket if you go completely bare. Find me someone who says that these health sharing ministries "paid for my spouse's chemo, radiation, scans and surgery during cancer with no cap, and hassle free" and then I'd change my tune.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by billy View Post
                  I wouldn't rely on the people saying "they paid for my doctors annual physical" to vote for buying one. You can afford to pay for that out of pocket if you go completely bare. Find me someone who says that these health sharing ministries "paid for my spouse's chemo, radiation, scans and surgery during cancer with no cap, and hassle free" and then I'd change my tune.
                  That's exactly the sort of thing I'm looking for. I've seen some on the internet, but not sure if that's for real or just a "paid for" fake review.
                  I figure I'll get a more reliable/honest answer if I specifically question folks in places like WCI.

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                  • #24
                    On the other hand, I hear about lots of payment problems with regular insurance too.

                    To me it comes down to, do I want something that I intend to protect me in dire need to be a contract that I can sue on, or a moral obligation with outs for my/my family's poor actions (kid with an STI, say).

                    In terms of actual problems, I have heard of three. One issue that people reported is that the hospital wouldn't accept it as insurance. A second issue is that people have been denied payment for alleged pre-existing conditions or not complying with the moral obligations to participate in the ministry. The third is that they seem to be reimbursement based so you need to be able to finance the costs in the short term. To me the big kicker is that it is obvious from how much less they charge that they aren't charging enough to be able to pay for all the problems. If I were in desperate financial straits I might choose it. In my current situation I don't think I would.

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                    • #25
                      Personally I am skeptical of these plans. However, our practice has had two patients (that I know of) with health sharing plans. We have gotten paid without an issue on these and my understanding is there was no problem with payment for surgery (including reconstruction), chemotherapy, and radiation treatment. Now it would probably be a PR nightmare to deny breast cancer coverage to these women. I still wouldn't trust them but that is my limited experience with these plans.

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                      • #26
                        Is it still true you have to be of a certain religion to participate? If so that is enough reason for me to boycott.

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                        • #27
                          This article referred you to published complaints, actions and recommendations from state insurance commissioners. Check with YOUR state if you think it will be any different.
                          More you can check Yelp!
                          I think you are aware of the limitations. You can be denied. You can appeal to an internal process.
                          You can complain to the state. You can then sue them in court and get a judge to find in your favor (on the basis of the legal contract) which likely obligated them with zero liability. Good luck with your appeal. It is a personal contract issue not regulated.
                          I doubt many here know anyone that uses it, let anyone that was denied, and further in your state.
                          Your state insurance regulator would be a better source. Have you asked the entity for data on claims rejections?
                          Framing your question: Does anyone have or know someone with Health Ministries contract?
                          If so, what has been the claims experience?
                          Take the responses, so far zero, and draw your own conclusions.
                          You asked for recommendations between insurance options. Health sharing Ministry is not insurance.

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                          • #28
                            Originally posted by Lordosis View Post
                            Is it still true you have to be of a certain religion to participate? If so that is enough reason for me to boycott.
                            I'm not sure on the details and am still looking into this, but I believe there is at least one outfit (Sedera) that is not faith based. There may be others as well.

                            I believe they originally came into existence long before ACA and were all faith based simply because some faiths (Amish, Menonites, maybe others) have a legit religious opposition to participating in formal insurance programs.

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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Hank View Post
                              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.
                              Ditto this, especially when every patient I have seen with these plans has had a difficult time finding a hospital and provider for treatment. Now during COVID, my hospital is not "accepting" patients for surgery with these plans.

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                              • #30
                                LOL!

                                https://mashable.com/video/john-oliv..._source=social

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