Open enrollment for next year’s coverage is less than a month away and now new options are arising.
The Texas insurance market is now seeing a new and more active participant, now that the 2015 open enrollment is rapidly approaching, as the so-called health sharing ministries are seeking to bring in new members who would like to have coverage but either want an alternative to the traditional plan or cannot afford one.
This is a critical time in which to market health insurance, as consumers prepare to make their 2015 choices.
Medi-Share is one of the three health sharing ministries that have been in existence for the longest time in the United States. This health care sharing program is based in Melbourne, Florida and claims that since the Affordable Care Act went into effect, it has tripled its overall membership. Across the country, its numbers rose from about 35,000 to around 106,000. In the Texas insurance market, there have been about 9,000 people who have joined since September of last year.
Now, this alternative form of Texas insurance is hoping that more people will see its appeal.
Medi-Share was first established in 1993 and has grown its overall membership by about 40,000 people since September 2013. According to CEO and president Tony Meggs, of Christian Care Ministry, the organization that operates Medi-Share, “Many Texans are likely unsure about the healthcare options available to their family this year.” He went on to say that his group is hopeful that those individuals will discover that there is an alternative “that involves sharing medical bills with fellow Christians without any penalties.”
The health sharing ministry has taken on an aggressive advertising campaign in Texas, competing with insurance companies as they place ads in Christian publications and radio stations. The health care reform law does exempt members of these programs from the tax penalties that would apply to them if they remained entirely uninsured.
That said, it is important to note that there is a considerable difference between the coverage provided through health sharing ministries and through standard Texas insurance plans. They do not cover certain standard medical procedures and practices such as birth control and preventive medical screenings. Moreover, they also do not cover pre-existing medical conditions.