CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — The first thing to know about Zion Health is that it’s not an insurance company but rather a nationwide community of like-minded consumers who are seeking the freedom of an alternative to traditional insurance and who have pledged to share in one another’s medical burdens.
“This is health sharing re-imagined,” Zion Health president and founder Nathan Udy said. “We’ve taken things that we liked about health sharing and rebuilt it and made it better.”
With roots in faith-based organizations, health care cost-sharing ministries have existed for the better part of four decades, but Udy said he saw a need within the marketplace for a modernized solution and launched Zion Health in January 2019.
He told St. George News that many consumers are exploring health shares as a cost-effective alternative to traditional coverage, and because Zion Health is a medical cost-sharing membership program instead of an insurance provider, expenses associated with regulations that drive up premiums are eliminated from the equation.
“When you contribute money every month to the health share, you’re really contributing to helping people,” Udy said. “We’re very careful about how these funds are used to make sure that we’re using them in the right way and for the benefit of the community.”
The costs shown on Zion Health’s website are not quotes subject to change, he said, but the actual contributions members pay – and nothing more. Members can join directly, through their worksite or via a separate direct primary care membership.
The Zion Health community is built upon the principles of benevolence and mutual aid, Udy said, adding that members are welcome to give more than their monthly dues to benefit a special fund for those with exceptional medical needs that do not qualify for sharing.
While most members are relatively healthy people between the ages of 18 and 64, Udy told St. George News that Zion Health will not decline any prospective members based on pre-existing medical conditions; rather, they are subject to a phase-in period in which the community will gradually cover more costs for their health care needs over the course of the first three years.
When members are seeking medical care – whether in the U.S. or while traveling abroad – they are not restricted to specific providers or networks, although additional pre-negotiated savings are available through a collaboration with Multiplan.
Preventive care, including annual wellness visits, is shared without a waiting period, and Zion Health has also partnered with Teladoc to offer unlimited virtual consultations 24/7 with no fees.
Zion Health contacts providers directly to negotiate and pay members’ care expenses, Udy said, unlike their competitors, which place the burden on the patient and then offer reimbursement. That process can take three to six months for a typical health share, but Zion Health pays most medical needs in an average of only five business days.
“Because of our background in managing medical expenses and working with providers, we’re able to streamline the process and make it quick and easy for members, and that’s really what sets us apart.”
Earlier in his career, Udy assisted patients with complex medical needs in navigating the Affordable Care Act and finding insurance that worked for their budgets. After relocating to St. George five years ago, he launched Planstin, a third-party administrative service for company health benefits.
Udy said that after just a year and a half in operation, Zion Health is both the fastest growing and top-rated medical cost-sharing service in the industry, with over 8,000 members nationwide. Membership increases daily, he added, and is expected to exceed 12,000 by the end of 2020.
The Zion Health community stretches nationwide, but Udy said he is especially passionate about sharing it with the people of St. George, where he can trace his own heritage back to the area’s first settlers and now calls “home.” He invites Southern Utah locals to reach out and see for themselves how the program works and whether it may be a good fit for them.
“There’s a lot more of a personal touch with us,” he said. “We reach out to our members and guide them through the process. They have the whole community of Zion Health who will support them in their time of need.”
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Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
- Zion Health | Address: 1506 S. Silicon Way Suite 2C, St. George | Hours: Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. | Telephone: 888-920-9466 | Email: [email protected] | Website
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