Katy Talento, Executive Director, Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries (The Alliance, ahcsm.org)
Katy Talento, Executive Director, Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries (The Alliance, ahcsm.org).
· The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries is an organization to represent the common interests of health care sharing ministries.
· For those who may not be familiar with the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, please share more information about its mission.
§ To protect the liberty of our member ministries to practice their religious convictions in health care.
§ Inform legislators of the important work and benefit of health care sharing ministries.
§ Seek exemptions from mandates requiring our members to purchase health insurance, in that they are already served in this area by the ministries which in which they participate.
§ Seek parity with other health care solutions with respect to federal and state tax codes.
Price Transparency for Medical Costs:
· Millions of Americans—nearly one in five—are unable to pay for often necessary medical care, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association.
o In fact, medical debt is the largest single cause of bankruptcy in America, the National Consumer Law Center reports.
o Over a recent six-year period, medical costs have doubled.
· Striving to find a better way to handle rising medical costs and obtain price transparency for medical services, more than 1.5 million Americans have turned to Health Care Sharing Ministries, according to the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries.
American patients are being aided by a new federal requirement for hospitals to disclose costs for services; this took effect as of January 1, 2021.
o We have hit the one-year anniversary mark of this federal requirement. Was this reform long overdue?
· Every hospital in the United States has been required to provide clear, accessible pricing information online about items and services they offer. Have all hospitals complied thoroughly with this new regulation, though?
o A recent independent report found that only 1 in 20 hospitals are actually fully compliant with these requirements.
· For hospitals that aren’t complying, how can patients ensure that they aren’t paying a dollar more than fair market price?
· However, a recent Biden administration regulation finalized in November 2021 will help Health Care Sharing Ministry members, and other hospital patients everywhere, find prices for various procedures in the future.
o This regulation proposes an increase in penalties for non-complying hospitals, and to end the price-hiding games played by hospitals who do post their data but try to make it hard to find or use.
o The penalty for hospitals not complying with the hospital price transparency rule will now be as high as $2 million a year.
· Many Health Care Sharing Ministries have been on their own for decades in identifying and using pricing data to help their members get the best prices for health care.
· Does The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries approve of the Biden
administration’s latest enforcement to make costs of medical expenses clearer for everyone?
o Katy Talento said: “For decades, Health Care Sharing Ministries have helped their members navigate to higher-quality, lower-cost sites of care—that’s nothing new for us. Our members rely on each other to seek this highest-value care because they are communities of faith accountable to one another to stretch their charitable giving as far as possible. Now, with the recently announced beefed-up enforcement of the federal hospital price transparency requirements, we are eager to expand our strategic partnerships to include more and more price-transparent doctors and hospitals.”
o Katy Talento also said: “The Biden Administration’s proposed improvements to the price transparency enforcement program will put the kibosh on a number of games that hospitals have played to prevent patients, employers, aggregators and app developers from finding their price data, including blocking full electronic access, imposing barriers to inhibit search engines from finding the data files, burying the files under a mountain of clicks and navigation, and so forth. The final rule also smacks down the outrageous behavior by hospitals to make it nearly impossible to get info on ‘shoppable’ services through an out-of-pocket estimator tool, by allowing queries only to users who input burdensome, often personally identifiable data in order to see the price estimate. They also return ‘estimated price ranges’ in their estimator tools instead of the actual price. The Alliance celebrates these pro-patient proposals that will help make secret health care prices a relic of the past.”
· Was price transparency ever a political issue or is it more of a health care industry issue?
o Katy Talento said: “For many years, health care reform was a partisan issue. Ending secret prices is so overwhelmingly popular that it’s no longer a question of Republicans versus Democrats—it’s about the health care industry special interests versus the rest of us.”
Difference between Health Care Sharing Ministries vs. Health Insurance:
· Health care sharing is not health insurance.
o Members and the leadership of Health Care Sharing Ministries work together to freely determine what type of medical expenses its members will share.
o Every month, members contribute a set amount that is shared between the other members to pay their medical bills.
§ Each ministry does this differently—some have an online sharing technology system to approve the sharing of funds, while others facilitate the sending of individual checks from member-to-member.
§ When members go to the doctor, hospital, or incur a medical cost, they submit the bill to their community through the ministry.
§ Expenses that meet the ministry’s guidelines are shared by the community and payment is made to the family in need, or directly to the doctor.
o Since 2019, $1.3 billion of medical expenses have been shared by members of Health Care Sharing Ministries in all 50 states.
o Visit our website at: ahcsm.org