Kansas hospital’s health-sharing plans cut
A Kansas hospital will no longer accept health-sharing plans as a form of payment, according to local reports.
Officials at McPherson Hospital said the move was due to “the fluid nature of these types of programs which create challenges in processing and tracking documentation,” according to the McPherson Sentinel.
Health sharing plans are not the same as health insurance and are not governed by the same rules. They are also referred to as Health Sharing Ministries and are typically nonprofit organizations whereby members – often with the same religious beliefs – pay fees into a fundraising pool and agree to share medical costs.
For some patients, the hospital’s decision to stop supporting health sharing plans may affect how they are billed.
âAs a result, patients participating in any of the health-sharing plans available in the market will now be considered uninsured and therefore should pay at the time the services are provided,â said Cyril Russell, director of communications for McPherson Hospital. McPherson Sentinel.
The newspaper noted that since some health-sharing ministries are rooted in Christian beliefs, costs related to certain services and procedures – such as drug addiction, abortion, and out-of-wedlock motherhood – may generally not be covered.
Patients are encouraged to file their own documentation with their health-sharing plan for reimbursement, McPherson Sentinel reported, citing Russell. Cash rebates are also available for many services offered by the hospital, the report says.
Russell did not immediately respond to a request for comment from MedPage today.
It has been reported that health sharing plans have recently come under intense scrutiny, due to aggressive marketing campaigns and a lack of oversight. The New York Times reported on the matter last year, writing that some plan members have found themselves with medical bills that are not covered and no possibility of legal recourse.
Regulators have started to focus on these programs. According to Times report, Washington state fined one of the largest health sharing departments, Trinity Healthshare, and banned it from offering its insurance to residents of the state. Nevada insurance regulators have previously warned consumers to stay away from the plans.
The Texas Attorney General has filed a lawsuit against Aliera Healthcare, which marketed Trinity’s products. Aliera has also been the subject of a federal lawsuit for selling “illegal” health insurance and misrepresenting her role in a shared health care ministry. The company is also the subject of lawsuits in other states.
The plans gained popularity as market prices for the Affordable Care Act increased; their lower premiums made them attractive. But families often found themselves with bills they couldn’t pay when ministries denied their claims.