5 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Membership
No matter how frustrated you are with the health insurance industry, making the leap to a health share can be overwhelming.
Between researching different companies and trying to find the best program for your needs, it’s hard not to wonder if joining a health share is worth the effort. Also, if you look at negative member reviews, you might think joining a health share is too risky.
So, let’s look at the primary concerns you should consider before joining a health share.
1. No guarantees
Health shares are not insurance. Remember, it’s an alternative, not a replacement.
- they are a monthly subscription, rather than a yearly contract, and
- they are not required to pay your medical bills.
Before you panic, remember that reputable health shares need loyal members. The health share idea only works with members to support the community. So, for a health share to operate, they need to keep members happy.
Although you will read many disclaimers about there being no guarantee—and you should take those seriously—keep in mind that if you follow the guidelines as a member, your health share will want to as well.
2. Personal information
You will want to know how the health share handles your personal and medical information. If it isn’t stated on their website or guidelines, feel free to reach out to them and ask.
Additionally, there are some health care sharing ministries that require sworn statements about personal activities and may even require that someone else confirm your activities. If you are not comfortable with this, you may want to look at a different health share.
Some companies encourage communication between members, like sending cards or requesting prayers. This may involve sharing personal information with fellow members. Think carefully if this is something that you want from your health share membership.
3. Financial risk
Many health shares reimburse for shareable medical expenses, which means that you may have to wait a while before receiving financial assistance from the community. You will want to make sure you have enough reserve for handling up-front, out-of-pocket costs, or join a health share that handle payments quickly.
The financial health of the company you want to join is also important to look at.
Before joining a health share, you may want to get the answers to some big questions, like:
- How does the company handle sharing for large needs?
- How much does the company keep in reserve for sharing member needs?
- How much has the company shared in the past year?
- What does the company do if the amount they collect from contributions each month is less than the amount needed to share member expenses?
You may have to do some digging on their website, or even contact the health share. But, if the health share does not make answers to these questions available to current and potential members, that is a red flag.
4. Guideline confusion
If you have spent any time reading member guidelines then you know they can lead to more questions than answers. Understanding the way a health share works can be tricky. Getting confused about what you can or can’t share is likely to happen at some point. When it does, it might be harmless, or it could lead to financial burden.
Fortunately, it is easy to avoid misunderstanding your health share’s guidelines if you are willing to do some homework and keep in contact with their member services department. If you aren’t sure about something, just ask. And above all, remember not to expect your health share to operate like health insurance. Use your health share for what it is designed for.
5. Company reputation
When you are thinking about joining a health share, we recommend that you take the organization’s reputation into account. Evaluating a health share’s reputation involves looking at its
- financial stability,
- accreditations and awards,
- member reviews,
- years in operation,
- ongoing legal action, and
- member accessibility.
Of course, these issues are not all easy to assess. For example, if a company is tied up in a significant lawsuit, a simple internet search may immediately reveal that, but it might be more difficult to find out a company’s financial status. If you can’t easily find a company’s annual financial report, or public tax returns, you can contact them and ask for them to send it to you.
When it comes to accreditations and awards, be careful. There are serious awards or stamps issued by well-known organizations like the Better Business Bureau, and then there are others issued by new companies looking for attention.
One of the biggest indicators of reputation are member reviews. Check out a health share’s reviews on this site and see what their Google Reviews looks like. Of course, you will find angry and glowing reviews, read several to get a well-rounded idea of how real members feel about them.
Despite the potential pitfalls, there are some quality, reputable health shares out there that are working hard to create helpful alternatives to health insurance. If you do your homework and consider the risks and benefits of joining, we are confident you can find a health share that suits your needs.