Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions for all UHS Programs

Universal Health Fellowship (UHF) is a not-for-profit health care sharing ministry established on the principles of the Unitarian Universalist Church. UHF has branded its health care cost sharing program Universal HealthShare (UHS). Universal HealthShare members are a community of people who participate in voluntary health sharing of eligible medical expenses and accept our Statement of Shared Faith and Beliefs.

The UHS Sharing Guidelines is a document provided to members to serve two main purposes: (1) it directs monthly contributions between members in its health care cost sharing ministry program, and (2) it describes the types of medical expenses the members have agreed to share among themselves. Members can access the Sharing Guidelines by logging into their Member Portals.

No, sharing and insurance are very different. Universal HealthShare programs are not insurance and Universal Health Fellowship is not an insurance company. It is a not-for-profit HCSM (Health Care Sharing Ministry) that enables members to help each other with their medical needs. UHF relies on voluntary contributions from members who choose to help each other without using insurance.

A few states have enacted an individual mandate requiring residents to have minimum essential health insurance coverage (an “Individual Mandate”) and imposing a financial penalty on those who have no qualified health insurance and have not qualified for an exemption (a “State Tax Penalty”). Examples include CA, MA, NJ, RI, VT, and DC. Most states with an Individual Mandate have an exemption from the State Tax Penalty for members of HCSMs that meet state requirements (a “State Exemption”). Please consult your state tax laws to determine if you may be subject to an individual mandate. Click here to learn more.

Many states have published legal notices to inform their constituents about sharing organizations. To read notices from all states that have issued them, click here.

Instead of a monthly insurance premium, you send a voluntary monthly share amount or contribution to UHF that is applied to your sharing account to support members with eligible health care expenses. When you have an eligible medical expense (a “Medical Need”), sharing funds from other members can be used to help you meet that expense.

There are many sharing programs available through Universal Health Fellowship, each with different contribution and monthly sharing levels or amounts. Each individual or family chooses the program that best fits them. The sharing program you choose will determine your monthly sharing contribution.

Your sharing contributions are not deductible as charitable donations or as medical or insurance expenses for federal income tax purposes. Although Universal Health Fellowship is a not-for-profit ministry, sharing contributions are not considered charitable donations because those funds are used for sharing medical expenses of other contributing Members and because of the likelihood that your medical expenses will get shared by other contributing Members. While your own medical expenses can be tax deductible, subject to a threshold based on a percentage of your adjusted gross income, your sharing contributions are not deductible as medical expenses because the funds are used only to help pay other Members’ medical bills. Under current law, your sharing contributions are not tax deductible as an insurance expense because healthcare cost sharing programs are not insurance. Click here to learn more.

In addition to your monthly sharing contribution you will be charged a one-time non-refundable application fee of $75 and ongoing monthly membership dues, currently $15 per month, to join and remain a member of Universal Health Fellowship. The monthly membership dues will be added to your monthly sharing contribution. You must be a member of Universal Health Fellowship to join our sharing programs.

Each of the six standard UHS programs (programs UHS 1 to 6) has a Non-Sharable Amount (NSA) that you will pay each year as an individual or family before any medical needs can be shared. Exceptions to NSA include Primary Care, Urgent Care, and Specialist Care office visits. These charges are sharable when you become an eligible member and pay a consultation fee for the office visit. (Non-Sharable amounts or NSA do not apply to the UHS SmartShare program.)

With UHS, there are no copayments as there are with traditional insurance products, but there are per-visit consultation fees that are not sharable. These fees vary depending on the type of service your receiving and the UHS program you’re enrolled in. Please consult the Sharing Guidelines for details.

A Medical Incident is a medically diagnosed condition and all medical treatment(s) received and medical expenses incurred relating to that condition. All related medical bills are treated as part of the same Medical Incident. Medical incidents have sharing limits based on each program, but a member can have as many medical incidents as medically necessary up to the per incident limit and inclusive of all charges up to the annual maximum for the program.

We will ask you and each family member to complete an online Health Questionnaire to become eligible for sharing. The Health Questionnaire can be found in the member portal where information received is kept secure and confidential.

We ask and expect that our sharing program members will adopt and live healthy lifestyles for the benefit of themselves and other sharing members, as doing so keeps medical costs lower for all. Lifestyle considerations include:

  • Alcohol should only be used in moderation
  • Use prescription drugs only as and when prescribed
  • Abstain from using illegal drugs
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a healthy and nutritious diet
  • Encourage all family members to be involved in caring for themselves and each other

The date when membership in your UHS program begins is called your Effective Date. You may select your Effective Date, but your first monthly contribution and any applicable fees will be due at the time you submit your application for a UHS program. Sharing eligibility for a member’s medical expenses will be determined by their Effective Date, which will also become the member’s anniversary date with UHF. Any changes made to their sharing program will typically become effective on the anniversary date.

To become eligible to receive sharing, every family member must complete the Health Questionnaire in the member portal. Then, sharing begins immediately for Primary Care, Urgent Care, and Specialty Care office visit charges. Most other eligible medical service expenses can be shared after you have paid eligible medical expenses in a cumulative amount equal to the applicable Annual Non-Sharable Amount (NSA), and after you have satisfied any applicable waiting periods. Medical services subject to meeting the NSA include inpatient, outpatient, and diagnostic services. (Non-Sharable amounts or NSA do not apply to UHS SmartShare programs.)

All you need to do is make your monthly voluntary sharing contributions. UHF will manage those contributions for you, distributing funds as needed to help other Universal HealthShare members with their eligible health care expenses, and to help cover the operational and administrative costs of UHF.

No, there are no annual enrollment periods for Universal HealthShare. You may leave UHF at any time and you can join at any time. Once you leave UHF, your ability to share medical expenses will end. If you choose to leave, we ask you to give us 30-days advance notice to help accommodate other sharing members. Monthly sharing contributions and fees are non-refundable. You may be subject to a new application fee if you wish to rejoin the Fellowship.

If you have an emergency, seek immediate medical help. For other medical needs, review your Sharing Guidelines or call the customer service number on your membership card. In non-emergency situations, consider telemedicine. It’s available 24/7 with a $0 consultation fee. Also, most in-patient and out-patient services (such as surgeries and hospital admissions) require pre-notification by calling customer service. More details about this are on the back of your membership card.

All Universal HealthShare programs include unlimited 24-hour telemedicine with $0 consultation fees. Offered through our partnership with FlexCare, telemedicine gives you immediate access to board-certified doctors. You can speak to a telemedicine professional via a phone call, through a mobile app, or online video. It’s the fastest, most convenient, and often the lowest cost way to access medical care.

Universal HealthShare uses the Multiplan/PHCS Practitioner & Ancillary Network with over 700,000 practitioners nationwide. To look up providers within the Multiplan/PHCS network, visit this link. Always call your provider in advance to confirm that they are a current member of Multiplan/PHCS before you incur medical expenses.

You can use any hospital anywhere in the continental U.S.A. If it is not an emergency, you will be required to contact customer service before any hospital admission as part of the pre-notification process.

You will always remain responsible for your medical bills, and you may be treated as a cash paying patient. But many providers in the Multiplan/PHCS network may choose to accept your Universal HealthShare membership card and submit your medical expenses directly to us, minus applicable NSA and consultation fees. For providers that do not, you can submit the itemized bill to Universal HealthShare and sharing funds will be sent directly to you.

Yes, except for the first year of continuous sharing, pre-existing conditions are sharable based on the waiting periods and sharing limits of the program as follows:

  • First year of membership, no sharing
  • Second and third year of sharing, pre-existing conditions are eligible for sharing up to $50,000
  • With the fourth membership year, a condition is no longer considered pre-existing.

Frequently Asked Questions for UHS SmartShare Only

UHS SmartShare is designed for the individual or family who wants the peace of mind of health sharing, but a more affordable monthly share amount. To keep members’ sharing contributions low, UHS SmartShare offers limited sharing with fixed fee amounts.

  • Annual Maximum Limit is $27,500 per year – inclusive of all services shared.
  • Surgical costs are shared up to $2,750 per day for two surgical procedures per year (subject to the annual limit of $27,500).
  • Inpatient room and board are shared up to $2,750 per day, per year for 10 days maximum (subject to the annual maximum limit of $27,500).
  • Emergency Room visits are shared up to two incidents per Program Year at $100 per incident
  • Ambulance use is shared up to two incidents per Program Year at $500 per incident.
  • CT Scan, MRI, and X-Ray imaging have a 90-day waiting period and are shared up to two visits per year, with a member consultation fee of $400.
    X-Ray imaging has a 90-day waiting period and shares up to two visits per year at $200 per visit.

For UHS SmartShare, there is a 90-day waiting period before any Medical Expense Need may be eligible for sharing. This waiting period does not apply to the Office Visit charge for Primary Care, Pediatric Care, Specialty Care or Urgent Care visits. Annual Preventive and Wellness Care also does not have a waiting period.


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If you have a question about a specific member and/or needs request, please call the number on the back of the member’s UHF membership card.

For more general inquiries, call 877-987-1233.


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