This article will provide you an overview of what healthsharing is, how it works, and how it potentially saves thousands of dollars a year compared to the cost of an unsubsidized health insurance plan sold over the Connect For Health Colorado exchange.
Later, we’ll also address some of the more frequently-asked questions about healthshare plans, and explore the various health sharing plans available to you in Colorado.
Why Choose a Healthshare Plan in Colorado?
Health sharing plans accomplish many of the same objectives as a traditional insurance policy – specifically, protection against the potentially devastating high costs of medical treatment in the event of an unexpected illness or injury.
But they do so at just a fraction of the cost, compared to the unsubsidized premiums of an Affordable Care Act policy.
We’ll also address some of the more frequently-asked questions about healthshare plans, and explore the various health sharing plans available to you in Colorado.
Healthshare plans work amazingly well for many people – especially those who are left out of the Affordable Care Act subsidies for health insurance premiums.
On the other hand, traditional health insurance may still make sense for those who do get a significant subsidy under the ACA and rely on that subsidy for healthcare to be affordable. It may also make sense for some people with pre-existing conditions, for reasons we describe below.
Every family is different. So if you have any questions, or want to see how much you can save by switching to a healthshare plan, or just to shop around, we encourage you to contact us and make an appointment for a free consultation with one of our Personal Benefits Managers.
Healthshare Plans in Colorado Are Significantly More Affordable
Monthly contributions for healthshare programs are significantly lower than traditional insurance due to a few reasons.
First , pre-existing conditions usually have a 24-month waiting period before the expenses are shared (more on this in the next section).
Second, preventive care and birth control are often not covered, where as ACA-compliant insurance plans are required to cover both as essential benefits.
Overall, members of healthshare programs also tend to be healthier, which helps keep costs low for the collective.
Colorado Health Insurance Costs Are Unsustainable
The average unsubsidized health insurance premium for a family of four in Denver County Colorado was more than $1,200 per month in 2022, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And that’s with a deductible of over $8000! Costs are even higher in the more sparsely populated Western Slopes.
And Coloradans who buy their own health insurance, rather than access it via an employer group plan, can expect to see premiums rise by 10% a year. That’s well above the general rate of inflation.
Yes, most Colorado households can qualify for the income-based premium tax credits under the Affordable Care Act. But millions of Colorado residents are left out of the Affordability provisions of the Affordable Care Act – usually because they work too hard and make too much money to benefit.
These hard-working Coloradans must pay full price for the outrageously high cost of traditional insurance plans.
That’s why more and more Colorado families are turning to a more economical, more affordable alternative: Healthshare plans.
Healthsharing vs. Health Insurance: What’s the Difference?
Healthshare plans are run by healthsharing ministry organizations. These aren’t for-profit insurance companies, under Colorado law. Instead, these associations are non-profit, 501(c)(3) entities that facilitate the voluntary sharing of healthcare expenses among their members.
And compared to unsubsidized traditional health insurance policies, these healthshare plans typically save families thousands of dollars per year.
What’s more, they do it while providing a superior healthcare experience: For example, Healthshare plans generally don’t have limited care networks.
While many traditional, ACA-qualified health insurance policies available via the Colorado Connect For Health online marketplace are HMOs and PPOs which restrict non-emergency care to their narrow network of providers, healthshare plans usually allow you to use their benefits with any care provider.
The combination of affordability, simplicity, flexibility, and a better healthcare experience has helped healthshare plans to become massively popular in Colorado – especially among those who’ve been excluded from the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
History of Healthsharing in the United States
Health sharing is not a new concept. Formal mutual aid societies in the United States date back at least to the turn of the 20th Century, as the Quakers, Amish, Mennonite, and Jewish communities in America organized these societies to help their respective members with costs during medical crises.
Healthsharing experienced a rejuvenation in the early 1980s, as several faith based organizations created more formal organizations, with more detailed procedures, bylaws, and membership agreements, for the purpose of sharing the medical cost burdens of community members in need.
Healthshare memberships gained the spotlight recently because of their affordability and flexibility as more and more people are becoming increasingly frustrated with insurance costs and hoop-jumping.
Today, there are more than one million members enrolled in these medical cost sharing plans. And their number increases every day.
How Healthshare Plans in Colorado Work
Instead of premiums, members pay a monthly contribution that goes into a collective account. That money is then used to pay members’ qualifying medical expenses.
In some programs, members know who their money is going to. They have the option to contribute more, if they like, to the individual in need.
These optional additional payments help contribute to a sense of community and generosity among sharing members.
Monthly contributions for healthshare programs are significantly lower than traditional insurance for several reasons:
1.) They have a healthier membership base.
Traditional insurance companies have to take all comers. As long as they sign up during the two-month annual open enrollment period, or when they otherwise are entitled to a special enrollment period, traditional insurance carriers are not allowed to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions.
They also must pay for care for pre-existing conditions from the first day of enrollment.
Healthshare memberships, in contrast, are allowed to limit enrollment and sharing benefits due to pre-existing conditions.
Most healthshare plans will admit new members with pre-existing conditions, but impose waiting periods before costs to treat these conditions become fully shareable under their plans.
This practice results in a much healthier risk pool within the healthshare plan. It also results in much lower overall costs.
2.) They have a more responsible membership base.
To join a healthshare plan, members must agree to adhere to the plan’s statement of ethics, principles, or beliefs.
Generally, plan members agree to live healthy lifestyles. This means they agree to abstain from illegal drug use, excessive alcohol consumption, maintain healthy weight levels, and more.
Healthshare plans frequently exclude benefits for drug abuse treatment or alcoholism.
This is a feature, not a bug, for many healthshare plan members. Because members who already know they don’t have a drinking or illegal drug problem, and are not likely to develop one, aren’t forced by the Affordable Care Act to pay for benefits they don’t need.
This also helps keep costs down compared to those of traditional health insurance policies. Unless the taxpayer steps in with a subsidy, traditional health insurance, which must cover these items by law, under the Affordable Care Act, is not competitive for people who are generally in good health.
Who Should Consider a Healthshare Plan in Colorado?
Healthsharing may be a great solution for you if:
- You are in generally good health with no significant pre-existing conditions, or if you are able to pay for these costs out of pocket during the waiting period, which is typically 24 to 36 months;
- You don’t qualify for a significant subsidy under the Affordable Care Act. Healthsharing will typically save you 40% to 50% off the monthly cost of an ACA-qualified health insurance policy on the exchanges.
- You want to be able to choose your own doctors, clinics, hospitals, and other care providers, and not be limited by the narrow network restrictions of HMOs and PPOs.
- You want to be part of a community of like-minded people who share your values, and that shares each others’ medical expenses.
- It’s outside of open enrollment, you don’t qualify for a special enrollment period, and you need to get some protection in place against high unexpected medical costs.
Conversely, healthsharing may not be a great match for you, and a traditional health insurance plan may be better for you if:
- You have pre-existing conditions and you need them covered right away, and can’t afford to take a chance through a 24+ month waiting period.
- You expect to need surgery in the next year or two. Some healthshare plans impose a surgery waiting period.
- You’re a single woman, or already pregnant, and you want maternity benefits. Many healthshare plans that offer maternity benefits require the plan member to be married to receive them. However, non-maternity costs that are otherwise qualified will still be shareable.
- You would qualify for a significant subsidy for an ACA-qualified plan available via the Colorado Connect for Health website.
Need to find out exactly what subsidy you might qualify for for a Colorado Marketplace health insurance plan? ColoHealth is here to help! Just contact us today, and make an appointment to speak with an experienced Personal Benefits Manager licensed specifically in Colorado.
Or, you can simply run a quote. If you add information about your income, you’ll be able to see how much your premium is after the subsidized amount is subtracted.
Your Personal Benefits Manager can help analyze your situation, estimate the potential ACA subsidy you may qualify for based on your earnings and your family size, and help you decide whether health sharing or traditional health insurance may be the best option for you.
Then, your PBM can help you explore the different healthshare or health insurance plans available to you in Colorado, and make sure you’re in the very best plan or combination of plans for your individual situation.
Why Haven’t I Heard Much About Colorado Healthshare Plans Before?
The insurance industry is among the biggest lobbyists in Washington and in Denver alike. They are massive contributors to political campaigns of both parties. They are also massive advertisers in TV, radio, and print.
Big Insurance doesn’t want people to know about healthsharing. And media companies tend not to rock the boat with their key advertisers by publishing news and analysis content that puts a more affordable alternative to health insurance in a favorable light.
Additionally, only a few health insurance brokers, including ColoHealth, are willing to talk to Colorado residents about all their healthcare options, including healthsharing.
Because healthshare plans have a much lower overall monthly costs compared to health insurance, they also generate lower commissions for agents and brokers compared to traditional health insurance plans.
At ColoHealth, we do great by doing good. We have relationships with all the best health insurance companies and all the best healthsharing companies that do business in Colorado.
We always do what’s best for the customer, whether it’s a lower-cost traditional health insurance plan, a healthshare plan, or other solution.
Our commissions are lower. But we get so much referral business from happy healthsharing clients who refer their friends and family so they can save money too “that we do just fine”.
To learn more, or to sign up for healthsharing or a traditional health insurance plan, contact ColoHealth today, and make an appointment to speak with a Personal Benefits Manager for a free, no-obligation consultation.
We’ll be happy to answer all your questions, and help you enroll in the best plan for you and your family.
Frequently Asked Questions About Healthshare Plans in Colorado
Is healthsharing legit?
As of 2021, more than 1.5 million people have chosen healthsharing over a traditional medical insurance policy, including more than 35,000 members in Colorado, according to the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries.
Last year, healthsharing ministries helped members pay more than $1.3 billion in medical bills.
Do healthshare plans in Colorado cover prescription drugs?
Every healthshare plan in Colorado is different. With some plans, prescription drugs associated with a qualified need are fully or partially shareable.
Other plans offer plans that enable their members to purchase prescription drug plans at a deep discount compared to retail prices. These plans tend to work best for generic medications
Can healthsharing help my small business save money on employee health benefits?
Yes. Many employers, both large and small, are discovering they can save significant amounts of money by switching their group health insurance benefits to a lower-cost group healthshare plan.
Often, employers do this in conjunction with a health reimbursement arrangement – a tax-advantaged way for employers to empower their workers to purchase their own health plan separate from the employer, or to help pay for any other health care costs not covered under their plans.
For a no-cost, no-obligation analysis, put together an employee census, and make an appointment to speak with a Personal Benefits Manager today.
Can I contribute to an HSA with a healthshare plan?
Yes. At least one well-established healthshare plan was specifically designed to make members eligible to make contributions to healthsharing accounts, or HSAs.
Combining this low-cost healthshare plan with tax-deductible HSA contributions can be a very powerful approach to generate health care and tax savings, while empowering members to have more choice, flexibility, and spending power when it comes to their own medical care.
For more information, or to get enrolled, click here, and make a no-obligation appointment to speak with a Personal Benefits Manager.
I’m eligible for Medicare. Is there a healthsharing option for me?
Yes. At least one healthshare plan, Medi-Share 65+, is designed to work along with Original Medicare (Parts A and B). It is a viable and lower-cost alternative to a Medigap Plan G or Plan N policy. It provides comparable protection at a fraction of the cost in most areas.
Can I use a healthshare plan with a Direct Primary Care plan?
Yes. In fact, healthsharing and Direct Primary Care combine beautifully.
One plan available in Colorado, DPC DIRECT, is designed specifically with Direct Primary Care members in mind.
For more information, make an appointment to speak with a Personal Benefits Manager today.
What healthshare plans are available in Colorado?
We offer multiple health sharing plans in Colorado, not all of which we are allowed to share on the website. The most popular programs we currently offer are:
- Plans approved and authorized under the Affordable Care Act
- Covers Pre-Existing conditions
- Low cost subsidized plans available to those earning
< 400% of the federal poverty level
- Unlimited lifetime benefits
- Available during open enrollment (November 1 – January 15), or if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period
- Not health insurance, but a way for like-minded individuals to share medical expenses
- Waiting periods on pre-existing conditions
- May exclude sharing for certain conditions or activities
- Enroll any time
- Much lower monthly cost than unsubsidized health insurance