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With just weeks left to sign up for insurance on HealthCare.gov, a growing number of people are opting to enroll in a Christian alternative to traditional health insurance.

Nationwide networks of fellow believers help share each other’s major medical bills through what’s known as health care sharing ministries.

“It works just like insurance. I have an insurance card. I show it just like anyone else would. I have a deductible. I have a monthly premium that I pay,” explained Eileen Wade, who joined the health care sharing ministry, Medi-Share, in 2011.

The nation’s three largest ministries boast more than 242,000 members, spanning all 50 states, who agree to live so-called biblical lifestyles — meaning regular church attendance; no drugs, tobacco, or sex outside of marriage; and limited alcohol consumption.

This kind of healthier lifestyle helps keep monthly premiums lower than that of other health insurers for most members.

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