You have probably heard of this alternative to traditional insurance before, as it is becoming more and more popular. But do you know what a shared health network is?
A shared health network is a program that facilitates the sharing of medical costs among its members. It is usually religion-based and voluntary, meaning that there is no binding contract between the organization and the members guaranteeing that you will be paid. Members need to pay monthly premiums to qualify.
Shared health networks are a relatively new option for people who are thinking of alternatives to traditional health insurance. Even though the idea behind it dates back about a century, people still feel insecure or confused when they hear about it, and thus don’t consider it an option.
In case you are one of those people, fear not! That is why I am here today – to explain the idea behind shared health networks in simple terms. You will find all the relevant information here – what shared health networks are, what makes them different from traditional insurance, how they work, how to join them, and what the pros and the cons are.
SHARED HEALTH NETWORKS AND YOU
Let’s go back to basics and first see what shared health networks actually are.
They are organizations situated in the US which function in a similar (but not the same) way as health insurance. The core idea is that the members of the network who have common beliefs (usually religious or ethnic) share the costs of health care. They are also known as health care sharing ministries (religious organizations), healthcare sharing programs, and health-sharing plans.
WHY CHOOSE A SHARED HEALTH NETWORK OVER TRADITIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE?
Shared health networks and health insurance both have their pros and cons, as well as their similarities and differences.
The main reason why people decide to go for a shared health network is the fact that they are on average cheaper than insurance (some amount to $300-$500 per month). As the prices of health insurance plans are rising, people are starting to consider alternatives – either because they question whether it’s worth to dish out the money for insurance, or because they can’t afford to keep paying for insurance anymore.
It is exactly the rising health insurance prices that brought forth and helped create the alternatives – one of which is a shared health network. The proof of the increased popularity of this option is the fact that membership increased over the last couple of years, amounting to over one million members! I will say more about the differences between the two later on, so keep reading to find out more.
HOW DO I JOIN A SHARED HEALTH NETWORK?
Different shared health networks utilize different signing up procedures. You can usually do it online, through social media, phone, e-mail, or the respective healthshare’s website if the organization has one. The most common requirement is to fill out an application.
You may also be asked to sign an agreement with a statement or proof of faith, or even to regularly attend mass/church, depending on the policy of the network you’re trying to join.
HOW DO SHARED HEALTH NETWORKS WORK?
Shared health networks are commonly religion-based, and help promote the voluntary sharing of medical expenses in a community. Different organizations support different denominations, and every one of these has unique rules, which can also vary based on how strict they are. Remember to read the guidelines carefully.
After joining one of these networks, you will need to send in monthly premiums. These premiums will help ease the burden of medical expenses for members that need it and that file a claim to receive the money.
Remember that, since it’s a religion-based organization, not all costs will be covered by a shared health network, especially those that are deemed ‘unbiblical’ or a result of sinful behavior. For example, a shared health network may not fund birth control, abortions, or injuries or conditions resulting from alcohol or drug abuse (or even use).
WHAT MAKES A SHARED HEALTH NETWORK DIFFERENT FROM HEALTH INSURANCE?
The main difference is that a shared health network provides no guarantee of compensation for loss, damage, illness, or death. Simply put, there is no binding contract that would ensure that you get paid, as these programs are voluntary. As you probably know, health insurance works based on a contract that guarantees that you will be paid in case a condition is fulfilled and the premiums are paid. That is the biggest difference between the two.
Shared health networks are an available alternative to traditional health insurance. Whether they are something that suits you, depends on your current situation, needs, or religious beliefs. Finally, to help you out in case you are having trouble making up your mind, I’ve decided to break down the information into two segments for you: pros and cons of choosing a shared health network.
– Shared health networks are cheaper than insurance
– Easy sign-up process
– Strict rules, obligatory and controlled church attendance in some networks
– Shared health networks usually don’t cover all the costs (some based on the policy, costs, and claims of the network; some based on religion)
All in all, be sure to do your research before you choose to join a shared health network. In order to make sure you cover all your concerns, read the fine print and check the policies. Your health is very important.
That is why you should take these matters seriously, and make sure that you can get the best option possible for the amount of money that you are willing to spend!