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Low-Cost Healthshare Plans
Faith-based sharing plans, also known as Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSM), have been around for more than twenty years. When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law, these plans were allowed to remain, even though they do not meet the minimum requirements for coverage as mandated by the ACA. They are considered approved alternatives to ACA plans, and members are not subject to the tax penalty that is typically imposed on Americans who do not carry “traditional” health insurance.
After ACA implementation, these plans were allowed to remain in order to give an option to those who object to some of the more controversial features of ACA plans, such as the requirement that plans pay for birth control. Today, nearly 400,000 Americans belong to HCSMs. ColoHealth represents Altrua Healthshare, which has been providing this coverage to its members since 1999. Since its inception, no eligible medical need has gone unshared.
Not Health Insurance
It’s important to understand that HCSMs are not insurance companies. They are not regulated by state insurance commissioners, nor are they backed by the financial resources of large insurance companies. These plans work by taking monthly member contributions and placing them into an escrow account. After the contributions are received, each medical need is addressed by “sharing” out of the general pool of funds.
Altrua’s sharing plans have a lifetime maximum payout amount of $1,000,000 per person. If you reach this amount you would qualify immediately for a special enrollment period for an ACA plan. It’s also important to note that Altrua plans do not cover treatment for cancer during the first year of plan membership, so during that time it would be wise to purchase affordable cancer coverage to ensure that you and your family are adequately protected.
How Does It Work?
Because Altrua plans are not traditional insurance policies, the sequence of events that occurs when a member has a medical need is somewhat different than what you may be used to. The following graphic illustrates this.
You Must Medically Qualify
HCSMs require that you be healthy, although you may be accepted into the ministry with a member limitation or waiting period of one year on your condition. Altrua does not accept smokers. Altrua also follows strict height and weight guidelines.
Statement of Standards
Because this is a faith-based sharing plan, every member must agree to the “Statement of Standards,” which includes the following:
- Caring for one another
- Keeping the body clean and healthy with proper nutrition
- The use of tobacco, illicit drugs, and excessive consumption of alcohol is harmful to the body and soul.
- Sexual relations outside the bond of marriage is morally wrong. Marriage is a bond between a man and woman only.
- Abortion is wrong, except in a life-threatening situation to the mother.
- Physical, mental or emotional abuse of any kind to a family member or anyone else is morally wrong.
These plans cost substantially less per month than ACA plans, for several reasons. Because there is medical underwriting, the group as a whole tends to be healthier, and thus there are fewer payouts for medical care. In addition, because patients are considered to be self-paying by providers, they are typically charged at a much lower rate than patients with traditional insurance. This is because the provider can count on receiving payment for the actual charges, not the (typically lower) amount that the insurance company agrees to pay.
For doctor visits, Altrua uses the large nationwide network PHCS, giving them access to pre-negotiated discounts on services. And while all hospitals nationwide are considered “in network” by Altrua, the group has negotiated special rates with each.
Altrua plan members have not received a rate increase since 2009. Member contribution amounts do not fluctuate based on geographic locations, like traditional insurance plans.
Altrua’s membership contributions are simple and affordable.
You Don’t Have to Wait Until the AEP to Start Saving Money!
You and your family can sign up for membership in Altrua at any time of the year. Because this is not an insurance plan, you don’t have to wait for the Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) to apply for membership. Once you're ready to begin your application process, simply fill out your name and email and click the Sign Up Now! button below. Let’s get started today!
Altrua HealthShare Disclaimer & Legal Notices
Want to learn more? Download 30-page Altrua Information Booklet!