Around the country, there’s a lot of concern about the latest efforts by the President’s administration to promote short-term plans as an alternative to high-quality, comprehensive medical coverage. These plans are not designed for primary coverage, and consumers should be aware of what these plans don’t cover before they buy them.
Similarly, healthcare sharing ministry plans don’t cover a lot of things that comprehensive health insurance plans are required to cover. They aren’t insurance, instead they rely on members voluntarily supporting one another through financial donations and prayer when a fellow member needs care.
Because education is an important part of our mission, we offer the facts about short-term plans and health care sharing ministries:
- Short-term and health sharing plans are not required to cover benefits such as prescription drugs, mental health care, maternity care or preventive services. Legally, they don’t have to cover basic health needs.
- Neither healthcare ministry plans nor short term medical plans are required to cover pre-existing conditions, even if they haven’t been diagnosed yet. Prescriptions or medical services related to a pre-existing condition will typically not be covered, even if you didn’t seek treatment for the condition (or have symptoms) prior to coverage.
- Short term and healthcare ministry plans don’t have to renew your coverage should you get sick or injured while you are covered.
- Healthcare ministry plans are not health insurance plans. They are not regulated by departments of insurance and you have no consumer protections in place in the event you were to have an issue with the payment of your medical bills.
- Your exposure to really high dollar medical charges are much greater in short-term and ministry plans. Regular health insurance policies that are fully compliant with today’s laws are required to limit the amount you have to pay out-of-pocket, and are prohibited from placing annual or lifetime limits on your coverage. Short-term and ministry plans are not.
- There are no regulations in place that will cover your medical bills should a health sharing ministry fold while you are a participant.
We hope this helps our members understand whether short-term or ministry plans are a good choice for them. If you’re interested, a companion piece to this blog explains the impact these plans are having on the market, and how they increase prices for everyone with insurance.