With the Affordable Care Act going live on October 1, many families and individuals are scrambling to find affordable alternatives to government-provided healthcare. While the Affordable Care Act itself is very controversial, the law still requires U.S. citizens to sign up for some form of healthcare.
But what do you do if you’re not sold on government-sponsored healthcare and don’t currently have coverage through a private insurance company? There are healthcare plans available through you local insurance broker, or member organizations like AARP, but not everyone can afford private insurance.
Even if it seems like you’ve reviewed all the options, there’s still one alternative solution that you’ve probably never heard of.
Christian Healthcare Ministries
This organization could provide easy affordable coverage if you don’t have other options. The concept is simple; instead of paying your monthly premiums to an insurance company, you send your monthly dues directly to a another member with qualified healthcare costs.
Coverage starts immediately upon signing up, and there are no in-network provider restrictions. You choose your doctors and treatment providers, and there’s no need to get procedures pre-approved for coverage. Coverage can be used in conjunction with Medicare or other insurance coverage, as well.
While no one is turned down for coverage, there is a catch. As the name implies, the coverage is only for Christian participants. You’ll need a letter of recommendation from a clergy member verifying you attend a church regularly (if your health permits). You’ll also need to follow a few lifestyle rules, like avoiding tobacco products, drinking alcohol only occasionally, and living by “Biblical principals.”
Also, while prescription coverage is provided for some members for incident-related events, you’ll need a discount prescription program or separate drug coverage if you take regular medications.
Coverage is based upon the concept of units and levels. A unit corresponds to a person requesting coverage. An individual would need one unit of coverage, a couple would require two units, and a family, three units. Three units is the maximum, no matter how many children you have.
You then select a level of coverage: gold, silver, or bronze. Each level provides different coverage and a different monthly payment for each unit. For example, the basic level of bronze provides inpatient and outpatient coverage (hospitalization) for $45 a month per unit. A family of six could get basic hospitalization coverage that satisfies the Affordable Care Act requirement for $135 per month.
Gold-level coverage provides all the basics of traditional insurance plans, including maternity coverage for $145 per unit per month with a $500 personal responsibility limit (deductible). You can view exact level details here. You can also compare costs of CHM plans with average monthly premiums of HMO and PPO plans, based on research from The Kaiser Family Foundation.
Coverage isn’t ideal, but it can be a lifesaver for individuals and families looking for help with healthcare coverage that fits into their monthly budget. It can also be used to supplement an existing bare-bones insurance plan, if secondary insurance is required under your policy to avoid paying a higher percentage of medical costs.
Have you heard of CHM before? Would you be interested in using it?