Health Care Sharing Ministries: Characteristics and California Market

JoAnn Volk, Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms
Dania Palanker, Georgetown University Center on Health Insurance Reforms


The specific characteristics of health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) can vary, but they generally are limited to those who share a common set of religious or ethical beliefs. HCSMs serve a purpose akin to health insurance in that members make monthly payments or “share” to cover qualifying medical expenses of other members.

With funding from the California Health Care Foundation, the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at Georgetown University conducted interviews in early 2018 with stakeholders in California about alternative coverage arrangements, including two HCSMs with California membership, brokers, and state regulators.

This presentation summarizes their key findings on the following:

  • Characteristics of HCSMs
  • Differences between HCSMs and insurance for providers and patients
  • Federal and state regulations of HCSMs
  • HCSM membership growth in California and the potential for further growth
  • Questions for regulators

For more national research on HCSMs see links below from the Commonwealth Fund and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.