As an alternative to standard health insurance, a health share program is designed to provide limited coverage for more common medical needs, without providing assistance with most major medical situations. Health sharing programs offer several advantages to persons who do not have access to group or individual health care coverage, especially in cases where pre-existing health issues or lack of financial resources make standard health coverage impossible.
The coverage of a health share program is usually very basic, with a focus on routine doctor visits, prescriptions, and general health care maintenance. For the most part, a health share program does not involve any deductibles. For each covered procedure, the health share program will cover a fixed amount of the normal and usual charge. The patient is responsible for working out arrangements with the physician to pay any remaining amount due.
Along with basic health care maintenance, there is usually some limited provision for more common health issues, such as pregnancy. While specific health care program packages will vary, just about all types will have at least some emergency room coverage, as well as some hospital benefits for short term treatment.
Generally, a health share program does not require any type of physical examination, or collection of past medical history. Because the rate of coverage for each medical procedure is fixed, the patient always knows exactly what the health share program will pay. People who are signed up with a health share program may choose any doctor he or wishes, as well as any pharmacy. However, some health share programs routinely provide a list of physicians and pharmacies that offer discounts to subscribers of the health share network, which can result in additional savings. Another advantage is that there is no need to get authorization to see a specialist. If the procedure is covered under the terms of the health share program, the services of any health care professional will be honored.
The health share program model can be utilized in a number of fashions. There are faith based health share models, such as Christian health share programs, that provide minimum health care for people who cannot afford the more expensive comprehensive health insurance packages. Health share programs that are built around the concepts of herbal and homeopathic medical care are also available.