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Jul
11

Healthcare Sharing Ministries and the brutal reality of medical debt

Last week I posted on Health Care Sharing Ministries, noting I’d been reaching out to the PR firm that works with theAlliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, the PR people put out a release touting their new accreditation standards.

As I noted last week the accreditation process/requirements don’t appear to require minimum cash reserves, specific expense ratios or meet other financial adequacy minimums and the accreditation board doesn’t include individuals with actuarial or financial credentials.

In English, this is a very big deal. Unlike real health insurers, HCSMs aren’t required to have enough cash to pay your medical bills. Also unlike health insurers, members don’t have any recourse if their “ministry” decides your care isn’t worthy of their support.

This comes on the heels of a recent study that found almost a third of all Americans have medical debt; in their efforts to pay off debt respondents made a number of sacrifices and suffered substantial financial consequences: (actual study and responses from KFF)

  • cutting back on household spending
  • more than four in ten say they or a household member have used up all or most of their savings
  • respondents reported skipping payment on other bills,
  • and delaying college or buying a home, or changing their housing situation, while
  • half of adults with health care debt say they have made what they feel to be a difficult sacrifice in order to pay down their debt
  • One in seven adults with health care debt say they have been denied care by a provider due to unpaid bills

Here’s the truly awful thing…the least fortunate among us are in the worst shape.

I get that some people have had good experiences with HCSMs. I also know others have not, and are now among those with crippling, life-changing medical debt.

What does this mean for you?

HCSMs are no silver bullet…rather they are a “send the check in and hope you are covered if you get hurt or sick” non-solution.

It’s a measure of just how dysfunctional our healthcare system is that HCSMs even exist.

Ed note – I’ve been holding off on this post for days, hoping to hear something from AHCSM. I’ve repeatedly asked the PR firm for more details; evidently the right folks haven’t been able to respond.

I first reached out to the PR contact on June 21, 2022…three weeks ago.

 


Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates

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A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.

 

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