HEALTH CARE SHARING COMING OF AGE

diagram of health care sharing

Health care sharing is an expanding concept that brings the benefits of a sharing economy to payment of health care costs: think “uber” or “airbnb” for medical expenses. Just as in other sharing business models, modern technology now allows, for the first time in history, thousands of participants to link in a peer-to-peer environment such that small account debits across the peer-to-peer network can be executed to pay a member’s medical bill, all on a voluntary basis, and with very little overhead.

This method of medical expense payments has numerous advantages over ACA health insurance for many people: first, participation is entirely voluntary; second, overhead associated with the insurance industry is almost entirely bypassed, with payments directly to a provider; third, health sharing offers more flexible arrangements, at a far lower cost, than insurance. This is truly the wave of the future for expense payments for a large number of Americans.

Faith-based communities have long used health care sharing as a means of paying medical expenses among their members, albeit while using old, paper-based means of communication and sharing. Following passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, interest in health care sharing exploded to an entirely different level, largely as a cost-savings measure. Further, the new “API Economy”, as described by Forbes Magazine in 2017, comparatively benefits, by a large measure, the health care sharing payment model. Through the API payment economy, it is now far more efficient to arrange sharing-based payments than insurance-based payments, resulting in lower medical expenses and faster provider payments. The clear leader in the health care sharing API economy is Sharable, LLC.

For the reasons of cost savings and technology efficiency, health care sharing is now widely seen as a better alternative for many people, irrespective of religious affiliation, to the high cost of health insurance as it presently exists.

Health care sharing is largely unregulated at the present time. But understanding health care sharing’s growing popularity, the National Conference of Insurance Legislators (NCOIL) has proposed a new model act that would require registration in each state and clarifies the state’s anti-fraud protections. Amendments have been proposed to both strengthen consumer protections and to clarify that health care sharing is open to groups of people with common religious beliefs, or common ethical beliefs. A copy of the NCOIL Health Care Sharing Model Act, with proposed amendments, can be seen here. An interview with AM Best TV regarding the Model Act can be viewed here.