‘By contrast, uninsured people without the community support of fellow Health Care Sharing Ministry members risk delays in treatment that can lead to severe complications,’ says Katy Talento

WASHINGTON — Fear of astronomical hospital bills can delay life-saving treatments. But waiting too long for a medical procedure can have dire consequences.

“That’s not the case with members of Health Care Sharing Ministries,” says Katy Talento, executive director of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries (The Alliance, ahcsm.org). “Since 1981, Health Care Sharing Ministries operating in all 50 states have facilitated the sharing of billions of dollars in medical expenses for their members.

 “Each month, many ‘big needs’ are handled, from open heart surgery to long-term cancer treatment. By contrast, uninsured people without the community support of fellow Health Care Sharing Ministry members risk delays in treatment that can lead to severe complications.”

 A recent article chronicled several cases in which delaying medical care caused possibly preventable dire outcomes. One woman, for instance, waited for 18 months to get lifesaving treatment for skin cancer on her forehead. Because of the delay, she had to undergo a 12-hour surgery and radiation and will face reconstructive surgeries. She was unemployed, didn’t have health insurance, and Medicaid in her state did not cover her case. She eventually secured financial help from a university health care system. But the wait almost cost her life.

 Almost 100 million Americans suffering from the recent explosive inflation are skipping visits to the doctor and health care treatments because they can’t afford the medical bills. According to a Gallup poll, “Rising healthcare costs have compelled nearly four in ten Americans in the past six months to delay or skip healthcare treatments, trim regular household expenses or borrow money.”

People with health insurance, which is a contract with a third party to pay for medical services in exchange for premiums, often face high deductibles, high co-pays, confinement to networks, and limits on which services are covered.

“Health Care Sharing Ministries should not be confused with health insurance,” Talento says. “Being part of a health care sharing ministry allows members to bypass third parties and deal directly with a medical provider. Their expenses are shared directly from member to member. Every month, members contribute a set amount directly to other members with medical needs. Each ministry does this differently. Some have an online system to coordinate sharing, while others expedite sending individual checks from members to the member in need. When members go to a doctor or hospital or incur a medical cost, they submit the bill to their community through the ministry. The community regularly shares big ticket items.”

Christians who are exploring membership in a Health Care Sharing Ministry should ask if the ministry has been accredited by the Healthcare Sharing Accreditation Board, a national, independent panel that helps ensure high quality of care and ethical business practices.

“Health Care Sharing Ministries do more than reduce a family’s medical costs — they serve Christians throughout the United States and many foreign countries by enabling them to share their burdens with other Christians,” Talento says. “Ministry members support each other as the early Christians in the Book of Acts joined together to meet each other’s needs. These faith-based ministries provide financial, emotional and spiritual support to members.

 “And they take the worry out of facing unexpected health care costs alone.”

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries is a 501(c)(6) trade organization representing the common interests of Health Care Sharing Ministry organizations which are facilitating the sharing of health care needs (financial, emotional, and spiritual) by individuals and families, and their participants. The Alliance engages with federal and state regulators, members of the media, and the Christian community to provide accurate and timely information on health care sharing.

To learn more about the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, visit www.ahcsm.org or follow the ministry on Facebook or Twitter.  

To interview a representative from The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.