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Christian health care involves the provision of health care services with Christian religious values as the chief motivator. The main distinguishing feature of Christian health care programs is the faith-oriented focus on community and prayer. In many cases, this entails a cost-sharing program instead of health insurance. Individuals enrolled in such programs receive financial aid for their medical bills in the form of donations from fellow enrollees, with checks and cash often accompanied by prayer cards. Guidelines for securing and maintaining Christian health care often adhere to principles derived from the Christian bible.
Religion-oriented programs such as Christian health care are often developed in response to a perceived absence in the existing system. In the case of Christian health care programs, conventional medical insurance is usually seen as lacking in terms of both financial and spiritual aid. Although traditional insurance awards bill coverage in exchange for monthly premiums, the amount is usually limited by qualifiers determined by the insurance company. This can result in patients receiving an amount short of what is needed for their medical procedures. The monthly premiums for conventional medical insurance can also be costly, depending on the type of policy purchased.
A Christian health care program allows for greater coverage through a community-based support system. Members of the program receive monthly alerts about fellow members who need financial assistance with their medical bills. Based on these alerts, members are required to donate a fixed amount—usually significantly lower than traditional insurance premiums—directly to the members in need, effectively paying for the bills themselves. In most cases, the bills are fully covered by the donations.
This system tries to help members feel more fully involved in each other's welfare, building a strong, faith-based sense of community. The sentiment is reinforced by the addition of prayer cards and other care items to the donations, allowing beneficiaries to feel additional support from fellow Christians. This spirit of cooperation and mutual care alongside financial assistance makes Christian health care an appealing option for many individuals.
Such programs, however, have their own set of shortcomings. Christian health care programs with weak memberships might not be able to provide enough money for certain cases, as the number of monthly donations is insufficient. In addition, the biblical principles that membership rules are based upon can be more restrictive than conventional medical insurance. Alcohol consumption is generally frowned upon and procedures that conflict with Christian principles, such as vasectomies, are not covered.