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Faith Based Healthcare

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Faith-based healthcare is offered through 501(c)(3) nonprofit charities with a religiously-oriented purpose, and serves as an alternative to health insurance. These plans are often referred to as “health sharing ministries” or “healthcare sharing ministries.”

How Does Faith-Based Healthcare Work?

Unlike traditional health insurance, these plans do not “insure” people but rather “share” healthcare costs among a large pool of people. Members pay into the system and upon receiving a bill from their physician, other members of the plan will contribute to help pay the bill.

Functions Similarly to a Credit Union

The underlying philosophy is similar to that of credit unions. Faith-based health plans, like credit unions, are community-oriented and membership-driven nonprofits. So, let’s say Jake is a member of a faith-based health plan. Jake will contribute a monthly fee – a fee that would be much lower than a traditional insurance premium – and, if Jake gets sick, the rest of the members of his faith-based healthcare will contribute money towards his bill.

Does Faith-Based Healthcare Cover Essential Health Benefits?

Faith-based healthcare is not ACA-compliant and does not have to cover the essential health benefits mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). These plans are exempt from the mandates of the ACA. For example, these plans do not have to accommodate the 10 essential benefits. 

ACA does set certain requirements for faith-based health plans:

  • Members must share a common set of specific ethical or religious beliefs;

  • Plans cannot discriminate based on employment or residence;

  • The plans must share medical expenses among members regardless of state residence;

  • Members can’t lose their membership even if they develop a medical condition – although, members who don’t pay their share of costs can be disenrolled; and

  • The plans must be subject to an annual audit, which must be available publically, on request. 

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