Jennifer Wessel, JD, MPH
Senior Policy Analyst and Data Privacy Officer
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield
The Arkansas State and Public School Employees Health Plan
Health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) are faith-based, nonprofit organizations that offer an alternative to health insurance by allowing others in a ministry to help pay for medical expenses. HCSMs have been gaining in popularity in recent years. This fact sheet provides information on the HCSM benefit structure and coverage guidelines.
Prior to congressional action that effectively eliminated the penalty for not having healthcare coverage, there were exemptions to the requirement under the Affordable Care Act. Individuals were exempt, for example, if they were a member of a health care sharing ministry. HCSM participation may decline as individuals will no longer be subject to a tax penalty beginning in 2019. Alternatively, more HCSMs may enter the market since the participation in an HCSM that has been in existence since 1999 is no longer necessary to avoid a penalty. Even without the existence of a penalty, HCSMs may be an appealing alternative to traditional insurance if premiums continue to increase.