Healthcare sharing ministries are exploding in popularity due to their lower costs and shared values they promote. Medi-Share, Liberty HealthShare, Christian Healthcare Ministries, Aliera, Altrua Health Share, Shared Health Alliance, and Samaritan Ministries are just a few of the many sharing ministries out there.
Are Sharing Ministries considered insurance?
Sharing ministry members have a special exemption under the Affordable Care Act from maintaining Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC); however sharing ministry plans themselves are not considered insurance.
This is a bit of a conundrum for sharing ministry members who wish to participate in their employer sponsored QSEHRA. The IRS has established that in order to receive the tax-free reimbursements of QSEHRA, the participants must enroll in a plan that meets MEC. Since the inception of QSEHRA in December of 2016, the IRS has failed to provide guidance on how sharing ministries work with QSEHRA. We explored this circular reference in detail in this blog post.
What should employees do?
Employees who want to maximize the tax-free reimbursements of QSEHRA have two options.
- Purchase a major medical plan (Open Enrollment runs from Nov 1 to Dec 15 each year).
- Purchase an additional MEC supplement plan alongside their sharing ministry plan to participate in QSEHRA.
Reimbursing medical expenses for sharing ministry members
When a QSEHRA plan includes reimbursements of medical expenses, employees on sharing ministry plans will need to take an extra step to be able to claim medical expenses tax free.
In order to have your medical expenses reimbursed you will need to enroll in a plan that meets MEC. This is the only way to receive tax-free reimbursements.
Sharing ministry plans may be reimbursed on a taxable basis outside of QSEHRA if allowed by employer.
We realize the world of MEC and QSEHRA is confusing. We wrote the QSEHRA Reimbursement Guide to help you gain a better understanding of how different plan types interact with QSEHRA. If you still have questions, hop on our chat or send us an email and one of our friendly QSEHRA experts will be happy to help you.