At Digital Nomad Health, we are experts at helping patients navigate Medical Cost Sharing plans and help them maintain their ideal health. This article will discuss what MCSPs are and why we focus our care on their members.
Some groups, like CrowdHealth, refer to their Cost Sharing plans as crowdfunding. I am still a bit unclear as to the significance of this, but perhaps others can comment below.
Health Care Sharing Ministries
HCSM are organizations where individuals with a common ethical or moral belief come together to share the cost of their healthcare expenses. It’s a risk-pooling model, and famously, people in these plans were excluded from the health insurance mandate of the Affordable Care Act.
Medical Cost Sharing Plans
MCSPs come in different flavors, but they all have these things in common:
- Monthly membership fee
- Basic health requirement
- Age requirement
- ineligible diagnoses and conditions
- Medical bill negotiation
- Initial out-of-pocket expense
They are different from each other in the way they are structured or how they refer to themselves.
In general, CrowdHealth views itself as a crowdfunded healthcare platform. Your eligible healthcare expense is submitted to the crowd for funding.
Sedera refers to them as a cost-sharing membership that shares large and unexpected medical expenses with fellow members.
If you are generally healthy and putting a good deal of effort into maintaining your health, then a health sharing membership can make sense.
You have a predictable monthly expense (~$200) along with a set out-of-pocket fee for the first portion of your spending.
You are sharing the cost of care with like-minded individuals who also are likely quite healthy. Such programs tend to be selected for that kind of individual.
It’s usually accepted to get your care even overseas, which makes this a great option for digital nomads and expats.
There are a few disadvantages to such Cost Sharing plans, but they are generally well-known up front. This can help you make the best choice when choosing such options.
1. Denied Care
You can have your medical reimbursement denied because it doesn’t meet the membership’s guidelines, which is perhaps the biggest drawback.
However, unfortunately, many traditional health insurance plans also routinely deny certain medications, procedures, and even imaging studies.
Many such cost-sharing or crowd-funding plans may deny long-term prescriptions for their members. It’s often not a big deal if it is a generic medication, but certain autoimmune medications can be expensive.
3. Age Requirements
Some of these programs only allow you to enroll up to age 65. This could be because of Medicare requirements and the fact that Medicare covers many in the US after that age.
4. Pre-Existing Conditions
There are terms in place that will deny care for pre-existing conditions for the first few years or up to a certain amount of reimbursement.
The details are often laid out well in their bylaws and membership agreements.
5. Complex Billing
Once you pay for a medical service, the membership plan asks you to submit it to their department so that they can negotiate it with the clinician.
In fact, they will often request that you don’t pay the full amount until they have a chance to negotiate the fees.