The Affordable Care Act requires that all Americans have health insurance or pay a fine when it is time to file taxes. You may be looking for alternatives that reduce the cost and allow you to avoid the fine. One option people consider is a medical share program, instead of insurance. Learn about how this works and whether it is a good alternative to health insurance.
What Is a Medical Share Program?
A medical share program is like a co-op. Members pay a monthly fee, which is usually less than insurance. When you become ill, the co-op will help cover the medical bills. You often have to pay a fee when you visit the doctor or become sick, but the rest is covered by the co-op. Depending on the program you join, they may have negotiated lower costs with the doctor, similar to insurance.
What Are the Problems with Medical Share Programs?
There are usually a wide number of exclusions in coverage and strict lifestyle requirements. Some may not give you coverage if you have sex outside of marriage or if you smoke or drink. Consumer Reports also warns that there is not guarantee that they will cover your bills, and little legal recourse if they choose not to. Additionally, you are considered a self-pay patient, which means you have to negotiate lower costs, and if the program does not reimburse you, you are ultimately responsible for the cost.
Will It Count Toward My Health Insurance Requirement?
The only options that exempt you from the health insurance requirement are the religious medical share programs. You can claim exemption based on your religious beliefs, but you will also have to sign a statement of belief in order to qualify, and the religious medical share programs have the strictest life style requirements. Most of these are Christian and exclude other religions and atheists from joining. If you do not believe in God or enjoy drinking, this is not a great option for you. There is also a longer waiting period to cover conditions like cancer, which you will not have with health insurance.
Should I Consider Joining a Medical Share Program?
Medical share programs are more risky than insurance. If you are worried about the cost of health insurance, consider a high deductible insurance plan. This will give you coverage if you find yourself at a lower cost than health insurance, but you will be protected from catastrophic medical bills, and you do not have any waiting periods for coverage. An insurance agent can help you find an affordable plan for yourself and your family.
To learn more, contact a health insurance agency like Bailey Insurance services.Share