Christian Science nursing organizations do not give advice concerning health insurance coverage or advocate for or against individuals purchasing insurance policies. Whether to insure, and to what extent, are very individual matters, and each should reach his or her own conclusions through earnest prayer. In addition, the options available and laws governing insurance are constantly changing.
Following are some questions and considerations that might be useful to Christian Scientists who are considering whether to purchase health insurance, researching possible purchase of a new policy, or examining an existing policy.
There are three forms of health insurance coverage:
- Individual health insurance policies
- Group health insurance policies (usually provided by employers)
- Health maintenance organizations (HMOs – see previous section)
Few policies include coverage for Christian Science practitioner fees or home nursing care. It is important to know exactly what an insurance policy provides and have the terms spelled out in writing, not just as described by an insurance agent or personnel office contact. For example, some insurance policies will pay only when other insurance coverage has been exhausted, and your agent or personnel office contact may not be aware of benefits available to Christian Scientists.
Five Basic Types of Health Insurance Policies
Four Important Questions About Health Insurance
Following are four important questions Christian Scientist should ask about health insurance coverage:
- Will this policy cover nursing care in a Christian Science nursing facility? (This must be in writing in the policy or in a rider to the policy.)
- Will this policy cover the services of a Christian Science nurse in my home? (This must be in writing in the policy or in a rider to the policy.)
- Will I need to have a physician’s diagnosis before this policy will pay benefits? (Many long term care policies, especially those whose premiums are tax deductible – so-called “tax qualified” policies – require this)
- Will this policy cover the services of a Christian Science practitioner? (This must be in writing in the policy or in a rider to the policy.)
Note: Christian Scientists with insurance coverage or who are exploring it (either private policies or through employment benefits), should find out exactly what Christian Science care expenses are covered. It is important to note that many personnel departments, and even some insurance agents, are not aware until they specifically ask the carrier, of specific benefits that may be available to Christian Scientists. If such benefits are not already available, riders can sometimes be attached to an individual or company policy that provides for Christian Science nursing care. When dealing with someone in a human resources department, it may be necessary to request a written response directly from the insurance carrier.
Other Questions to Ask
Once an individual determines that a policy will cover Christian Science nursing, he or she must determine how much coverage is desired. These are a few of the many variables involved in this decision.
- What type of coverage is desired? Some policies cover only “intensive care,” while others include coverage for “custodial nursing care” (often referred to as “long term care”)
- How soon after the purchase of a policy are benefits available?
- When does the policy begin paying benefits if one is admitted to a facility? (Policies become effective when your application is accepted and payment received, but payment of benefits may not begin on the day of admission.)
- How does the daily benefit compare to current rates?
- Does the policy cover the patient’s charges not covered by Medicare?
- Will premiums for the policy increase periodically over time?
- Review the benefits page that tells if benefits will be reduced at specific ages and whether premiums remain the same.
- Does the policy require a physical exam prior to enrolling?
- What is the deductible of the policy? (the amount you pay out of pocket before the insurance starts to pay)
- What is co-insurance? (the amount the insurance company pays and the amount you pay once the deductible amount is paid by you)
- What is the maximum benefit period? (maximum number of days for which benefits will be paid)
- What is the maximum benefit amount? (the maximum dollar amount that will be paid)
- What is the elimination period? (the period of time you must pay yourself before the insurance starts paying)
Many policies specify that Christian Science nursing care be provided by an accredited Christian Science nursing facility, and specify the accrediting body. Arden Wood, Broadview, Fern Lodge, Olive Glen, and Sunland are accredited by The Commission for Accreditation of Christian Science Nursing Organizations / Facilities, Inc., an organization recognized by the federal Medicare program.