Exploring the Concept of Health Care Sharing Ministries

Gain a comprehensive understanding of Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs) and how they operate as faith-based healthcare sharing programs.

Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs) are organizations in which members pool their financial resources to help cover each other's medical expenses. These ministries are often formed by religious or faith-based groups and are designed as an alternative to traditional health insurance. Here's an exploration of the concept of Health Care Sharing Ministries:

Key Features:

  1. Voluntary Membership: HCSMs are typically voluntary organizations, and members are often required to adhere to a statement of faith or certain lifestyle guidelines.

  2. Shared Financial Responsibility: Members agree to contribute a set amount of money each month, similar to a premium, into a communal fund. These contributions are used to pay for the medical expenses of other members.

  3. Shared Expenses: When a member has a medical need or bills, they submit a request to the ministry. The ministry reviews the request, and if it meets the guidelines, it allocates funds to cover the expense.

  4. Faith-Based Principles: HCSMs are often rooted in religious faith and principles. Some ministries require members to subscribe to a particular faith or set of moral values.


  1. Lower Monthly Costs: Monthly contributions to HCSMs are typically lower than traditional health insurance premiums, making it an attractive option for those looking to save money.

  2. No Network Restrictions: HCSMs usually allow members to choose their healthcare providers without network restrictions, giving members more flexibility.

  3. Shared Values: Members often appreciate the shared values and faith-based nature of these organizations.

  4. Community Support: HCSMs often foster a sense of community among members who come together to support one another during times of need.

  5. Exemption from ACA Penalty: Members of HCSMs have typically been exempt from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) individual mandate penalty, as these ministries don't qualify as health insurance under the ACA.


  1. Not Insurance: HCSMs are not insurance in the traditional sense, and they don't guarantee coverage. Members rely on the goodwill and financial contributions of other members.

  2. Limited Coverage: HCSMs may not cover certain medical expenses, and they often have restrictions on pre-existing conditions or certain treatments.

  3. No Legal Obligation: HCSMs are not legally obligated to cover expenses, and there have been cases where members' claims have been denied.

  4. Limited Regulation: Unlike traditional insurance, HCSMs are subject to limited regulation. This means there is less oversight and recourse in case of disputes or denials.

  5. Religious or Moral Requirements: Some HCSMs may have strict religious or moral requirements that limit membership eligibility.

  6. Lack of Guaranteed Renewal: HCSMs typically do not guarantee the renewal of memberships, and members may be dropped for various reasons.

  7. Not Suitable for All Medical Conditions: HCSMs may not be suitable for individuals with complex or high-cost medical conditions.

It's important to carefully research and understand the specific HCSM you are considering, as the rules, requirements, and coverage can vary widely between different ministries. Before joining an HCSM, it's advisable to consider your healthcare needs, budget, and values to determine if it's a suitable alternative to traditional health insurance. Additionally, consult with a financial or insurance advisor to ensure that it aligns with your individual circumstances and requirements.

What Are Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSMs)?.

Health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) are organizations in the United States in which health care costs are shared among members with common ethical or religious beliefs in a risk-pooling framework in some ways analogous to, but distinct from, health insurance.

HCSMs are not insurance companies and are not regulated by a state's Department of Insurance, meaning that there is no official obligation for an organization to pay claims. Instead, HCSMs are religious or ethical organizations that rely on the goodwill of their members to share each other's medical expenses.

To join an HCSM, members must typically sign a statement of faith or ethical values. Members then pay a monthly fee to the HCSM, which is used to pay for the medical expenses of other members.

HCSMs can be a good option for people who are looking for a more affordable alternative to traditional health insurance. However, it is important to understand that HCSMs are not insurance companies and that they do not have a legal obligation to pay claims.

Here are some of the pros and cons of HCSMs:


  • More affordable than traditional health insurance
  • No deductibles or copays
  • Coverage for pre-existing conditions
  • No lifetime limits on coverage


  • Not regulated by insurance regulators
  • No guarantee that claims will be paid
  • May not cover all medical expenses
  • May exclude certain types of coverage, such as abortion and contraception

If you are considering joining an HCSM, it is important to carefully review the organization's policies and procedures. You should also make sure that the HCSM is reputable and has a good track record of paying claims.

Here are some tips for choosing an HCSM:

  • Ask about the organization's financial stability.
  • Review the organization's policies and procedures to make sure that they meet your needs.
  • Talk to other members of the HCSM to get their feedback.
  • Make sure that the HCSM is licensed and regulated by the state in which you live.

You can find more information about HCSMs on the websites of the following organizations:

  • Christian Healthcare Ministries
  • Liberty HealthShare
  • Medi-Share
  • Samaritan Ministries
  • OneShare

Please note that this is just a brief overview of HCSMs and is not intended to be a complete guide. You should always consult with a financial advisor or insurance agent before making any decisions about your health insurance coverage.