June 23, 2024

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Health care sharing ministries are not health insurance: DIFS

2 min read

Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services launches consumer publication to help explain differences

NEWS RELEASE

DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE AND FINANCIAL SERVICES

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LANSING – The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is alerting consumers that health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) are not considered health insurance and do not provide many of the essential health insurance benefits and protections that health insurance must provide to consumers.

To help explain the differences between health insurance and HCSMs, DIFS has recently launched a new consumer publication.

HCSMs are faith-based, nonprofit organizations that offer to connect members who need medical care with other members who might assist with meeting those needs through voluntary contributions.

By law, HCSMs are not considered health insurance because they do not assume any risk, and because the ministries are not legally or contractually obligated to pay health care costs.

In addition, while most insurance policies are required to include coverage for pre-existing conditions and essential health benefits, HCSMs do not have to provide these, or many other, consumer protections.

“Health care sharing ministries may meet certain needs for some members, but it is important that you understand the terms and conditions put in place by the organization before you consider joining,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox.

“Before sending any money to a health care sharing ministry, or forgoing comprehensive health insurance, you should carefully research the benefits provided by the entity in question and make sure that you understand if this type of voluntary financial arrangement is right for you and your family.”

HCSMs are not regulated as insurance under state or federal law and therefore are not regulated by DIFS.

To file a complaint against a HCSM, visit the Michigan Attorney General’s website at Michigan.gov/AG or call (877) 765-8388.

For more information about health insurance, or if you are unsure whether an entity is a HCSM or a health insurer, visit Michigan.gov/HealthInsurance or call DIFS at 877-999-6442, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents, while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries.

In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS.

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