Interested in a Christian health plan? If you’re looking for a solution to the rising cost of health insurance, you owe it to yourself to learn more about this option for keeping your family healthy. These plans facilitate the sharing of medical expenses among groups of Christian individuals and families who have united to share each other’s medical bills.

Questions? Great. Here are some frequently asked questions — and answers — about Christian health plans:

What do Christian health plans cover? Medical needs eligible to be shared by members of Christian health plans compare favorably to what’s covered by traditional health plans. Eligible medical needs are listed in the membership guidelines. These types of plans typically offer a number of benefit options, including:

  • Doctor’s Office and Specialist Visits
  • Preventive and Wellness Care
  • Prescription Drug Program
  • Lab and Diagnostics
  • Urgent Care
  • Emergency Room
  • Hospitalization and Surgery
  • Maternity Care
  • Access to a national network of physicians
  • FREE 24/7/365 access to doctors through Telemedicine

Are Christian health plans new? They may be a new idea to many people, but Christian healthcare ministries, which offer Christian health plans, have actually been around for decades. Christian health plans in their current form have been in existence since 1993. Although these health plans are different than traditional health insurance, they are acceptable options under the Affordable Care Act. That means that if you’re enrolled in a Christian plan, you’re exempt from the individual mandate to purchase health insurance coverage under Obamacare.

Do I need to be Christian to be a member? New members who can honor a Statement of Beliefs by which the program operates are welcome to apply.

Do I need to wait until open enrollment to join? Although Christian plans are a permitted option under the Affordable Care Act, unlike traditional health insurance you don’t have to wait until open enrollment to apply to be a member. Even better, these health plans are portable and most have national networks of participating physicians. That’s great if you work for employers that don’t offer health insurance and you have to switch jobs.

Why are a growing number of people enrolling in them? Christian health care ministries have become an alternative to traditional health insurance by providing affordable plans tailored to fit individual needs and designed to provide the freedom to choose your own doctor. Monthly fees to be a part of a Christian plan are typically lower than the cost of monthly health insurance premiums.

Which plan is right for me? Christian health plans come in three basic levels —Basic, Standard and Comprehensive, the highest level. The higher the level, the more comprehensive the benefits and the higher the monthly cost. The basic level is much like catastrophic health coverage. The standard level includes medical coverage for primary care physician visits, pharmaceuticals, basic eye and hearing examinations, in- and out-patient procedures, extended hospitalizations, urgent care needs, emergency room, labs, and diagnostic procedures. The comprehensive level includes unlimited doctor’s office and specialist visits, enhanced prescription drug benefits and better coverage for pre-existing conditions. Both standard and comprehensive levels include Telemedicine, which allows physicians to diagnose and treat patients remotely via electronic devices.

Do any plans include maternity benefits? Maternity benefits are available after 10 consecutive months of membership prior to conception with the highest level of plans. Such plans typically reimburse up to certain pre-set limits per pregnancy.