FIGHT FOR HEALTHCARE: Faith-based healthcare cost-sharing groups - KCTV5 News

FIGHT FOR HEALTHCARE: Faith-based healthcare cost-sharing groups

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Some families are paying thousands of dollars every month for health insurance. It’s a financial impossibility for some, making alternative health insurance options more popular. (KCTV5) Some families are paying thousands of dollars every month for health insurance. It’s a financial impossibility for some, making alternative health insurance options more popular. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

Some families are paying thousands of dollars every month for health insurance. It’s a financial impossibility for some, making alternative health insurance options more popular. 

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are joining faith-based healthcare cost-sharing groups. They are not technically "insurance," but it has helped pay the bills for many families.

Stacie Robertson, a Kansas City business owner of 16 years, signed up for a faith-based cost-sharing plan two years ago after several frustrating, expensive tries with traditional insurance companies.

Robertson said she had been happy with her insurance during the first ten years of owning her business, paying about $260 per month. After the Affordable Care Act passed, she says everything changed and prices went through the roof.

She investigated her best options through the ACA, so she searched for potential alternatives. She found an organization commonly referred to as a "healthcare sharing ministry." She signed up with Liberty HealthShare. Robertson’s monthly payment is $199. 

“I’m saving $1,000 each month – so I’ve saved $24,000 in the last two years,” Robertson said.

The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, an organization representing what it describes as the nation’s three largest health care sharing ministries:  Samaritan Ministries, Christian Care Ministry and Christian Healthcare Ministries. It reports there are more than 1 million participants in healthcare sharing ministries and more than 100 healthcare sharing ministries.

Healthcare sharing ministries became more popular with the ACA’s implementation, in part, because the law allowed for members to be exempt from the ACA mandate, requiring everyone to have health insurance or be fined.

Each ministry pool members’ money to share medical expenses. How that money is dispensed varies with each organization, sometimes members send checks directly, others use bank transfers.

Healthcare sharing ministries are not insurance companies. Most require participants follow the same faith-based Christian values, so they often won’t pay for birth control or alcohol, drug and smoking-related conditions.

Some do not allow people 65 and older to participate. Others with pre-existing conditions may also be turned away. These organizations also do not have the same financial protection traditional insurance companies provide. 

Robertson says it’s the right fit for her as a healthy 55-year-old woman who doesn’t require extensive coverage for major medical expenses. 

“I’m glad that option was there for me, and I’ll taken my chances,” Robertson said. 

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