My MediShare review below was originally written in 2009 when I was investigating them, but has been continually updated (now for 2018) as I’ve been using them for almost 10 years. Hope it helps!
If you are in a self-employed situation like myself or just looking for a Christian health insurance alternative, you may want to consider Medi-Share.
It is the alternative to health insurance that I have been using for many years and for those wondering Medi-Share IS exempt from the Obamacare mandate.
While it essentially serves the same purpose as health insurance, they are very clear that it is NOT insurance. They call it, “Christian Healthcare Sharing.” It offers essentially all of the benefits of health insurance, but with lower premiums.
They say that most families will save 30-50% in monthly healthcare costs each year!
Medishare = Insurance?
People are always asking me if it is Christian Medical Insurance. Simply put, no Medishare isn’t insurance, but most people wouldn’t really be able to tell a difference.
According to their website:
“Medi-Share is not “Christian insurance.” Rather, it is a health care sharing program facilitated by Christian Care Ministry (CCM) through which a community of believers voluntarily come together to share the cost of one another’s medical bills. Members choose to share with each other, governed by member-voted guidelines. Although there is no guarantee of sharing, Medi-Share members have been faithfully sharing each other’s medical bills for more than 20 years, trusting the Lord to provide in their time of need through the voluntary gifts of other believers. Since 1993, more than $1.5 billion in healthcare costs have been saved through sharing or discounting.”
The Medi-Share program is flexible with multiple choices of program levels, benefits, and of course out-of-pocket expense. You are given the option of choosing your own doctors and hospital, but there are discounts available for using networked professionals.
According to their website:
“Members open their own Sharing Account with America’s Christian Credit Union. Each member household voluntarily contributes their Monthly Share into their Sharing Account. For each member with eligible medical bills to be shared, Christian Care Ministry identifies one or more other members with sufficient funds in their accounts. CCM electronically transfers funds from each sharing member’s account into the account of the member with whom they are sharing. CCM processes payment from the member’s account.”
From my experience using them, this sounds more confusing than it actually is. They do all this behind the scenes, so as a member I am not involved in any of that process.
More updates are listed below, but Linda and I just recorded a quick video answering a lot of common questions that we get:
Unless you have a good employer-sponsored health insurance plan, or you’re on Medicare, you’re probably concerned about your health insurance. A major reason is the cost of premiums. They can easily be over $1,000 per month for a family, or even for a couple. And that’s even if you have a high deductible.
My wife, Linda, and I feel like we found a solution, or at least one that works for us. It’s a Christian health sharing ministry, called Medi-Share. We’ve had it for our family since 2009, and it’s been working well for the past nine years.
It’s a bit unconventional. As I said, it’s a Christian health sharing ministry, which means it isn’t traditional health insurance. But it fills the same role, and in our experience, it does it at only a fraction of the cost. And just as important, it’s a service that’s consistent with our faith values.
We get a lot of questions about it, and that’s what I’d like to discuss in our Medishare review here.
What is a Christian Health Sharing Ministry?
As a Christian health sharing ministry, Medi-Share is based on the faith community values and practices of the early Church. It was given within the community that each member would share one another’s burdens.
In that way, members of Medi-Share share one another’s medical burdens. They do that by contributing to the program through monthly contributions, called “shares”. The contributions go into a pool, where it’s available to pay for the medical costs of members in need.
In addition to payment of a member’s medical costs, the community also support each other in prayer, and sometimes with personal support.
Medi-Share is a nonprofit organization, and conducts the program along biblical principles.
What happens when you go the doctor?
They actually do have a good network of participating doctors, and if you use one the process is smooth, since the doctors’ know how it works.
We generally use doctors from outside the network. That can be a bit of an issue, because a lot of doctors don’t know how Medi-Share works. But we prefer going to doctors that we feel comfortable with, so we’ll make the extra effort.
But even out-of-network, we simply explain Medi-Share to the doctor, they do a little bit of digging, and then bill Medi-Share. Medishare will then negotiate a discount on the services, and we’ll pay the difference out of pocket.
Now for us, out of pocket is common, because we use the highest deductible plan Medi-Share offers. Much as is the case with traditional health insurance, we do this to keep the monthly contributions as low as possible.
This isn’t a major problem in our family, because we mostly go for routine checkups. There’s only been one or two times where we had to go back for something a little bit more complicated. Just like traditional health insurance, the high deductible works well when you don’t go to the doctor that often.
Like mentioned above, the simplest option is to stay in-network with your doctors, but if you can’t, it just requires a little more effort on your part.
Here is how they explain it:
“When a medical event occurs, you simply select a network provider from the Private Healthcare Systems (PHCS) PPO network, which offers 700,000 providers nationwide! (Note: Members may select any provider of their choosing, including out-of-network providers, but in doing so may not benefit from discounting of medical bills as with an in-network provider.) Show your Medi-Share ID Card to the provider, and pay your provider fee—$35 initial charge for doctor visits, $135 for an Emergency Room visit. The doctor’s office or hospital sends your bills to Medi-Share directly.
PHCS negotiates discounts, an average adjustment of 30–35% by staying in-network. Your Provider Fee of $35 or $135 is also deducted from the total bill. Medi-Share processes the bills for sharing and notifies you of any amount you must pay directly in order to meet your Annual Household Portion. For any amounts to be shared, Medi-Share transfers sufficient funds from other members’ accounts into your account. Medi-Share notifies the sharing members of the recipient of their monthly share amount. Share amounts are used to pay providers. Once the dollars are transferred, Medi-Share processes payment to the doctor or hospital from the member’s share account.”
How much does Medishare cost anyway?
This is obviously a typical question, and the answer is for almost everyone Medishare costs a lot less than traditional health insurance.
When we switched from health insurance to Medi-Share, our monthly contributions fell to only about 50% of our previous health insurance premiums. And that’s with our family of four.
Now I said we have taken the highest annual deductible to minimize the monthly contribution. Our deductible is $10,000 per year, which means Medi-Share doesn’t begin paying our costs until we cross that threshold.
But as a result, our monthly contribution is about $230. It’s based on the age of the oldest member of the household, and that’s the contribution we’re paying with me at 37 years old.
The screenshot table below will give you a basic idea what the monthly contributions are with varying deductibles (referred to as the “annual household portion”). It’s based on a family of four, in which the oldest member is 40. Notice that there are seven deductibles, ranging from $500-$10,000.
On the far right side of the table, you’ll see a heading, Healthy Monthly Share. Medi-Share will give you a contribution discount of up to 20% if you meet certain health standards. These have to do with very specific metrics for blood pressure, abdominal circumference and body mass index. So if you’re super healthy, your monthly contribution will be lower still.
You’re probably aware that if you don’t have qualifying insurance, you’ll be subject to a tax penalty under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) health insurance mandate. There’s good news here. Christian health sharing ministries qualify as exempt for the purposes of the mandate.
Here is more from them on this:
“The Affordable Care Act includes a special provision for members of Health Care Sharing Ministries, so Medi-Share members are exempt from the mandate to purchase insurance or face financial penalties. And your healthcare dollars go to help other Christians rather than funding medical choices that are not God honoring-like abortion and the morning-after pill, which many insurance plans are now required to cover.”
One of the most fundamental requirements of Medi-Share is that you must adhere to a biblical lifestyle to join. For instance, they won’t cover abortions. Nor will you be covered if you’re injured in a drunk driving accident. You must also abstain from use of tobacco or illegal drugs.
You need to know these limitations, but you should be good to go as long as you adhere to a biblical lifestyle.
We get this question a lot, and it’s a good one. Simply put, your pregnancy related expenses will be covered as long as you’re making your monthly contributions.
How long do you have to wait to get pregnant?
From the horse’s mouth:
“Pregnant Members with an Annual Household Portion (think annual deductible) of $1,250 or higher who have faithfully shared from the month of conception through the month of delivery are eligible for maternity sharing.”
We haven’t been through the pregnancy experience, but we have been through two adoptions with them. They do cover certain expenses there as well. Adoptions can be very expensive, and we got about $4,000 back on our first one four years ago. On our second adoption we only got back $1,500, but by then we had opted for the higher deductible.
What About Customer Service?
When we first started working with Medi-Share, the wait times to get customer service would run 40 minutes to an hour. They’ve improved on this quite a bit since. But what we have found is that they’re consistently helpful anytime we speak with them.
We also typically find that they pray with us at the end of the conversation. As Christians, we find this comforting.
Why we opt for the high deductible plan
This is really a personal thing. As I said earlier, we set the deductible high to keep the monthly contributions low. And since we’re a pretty healthy family, it’s been working well so far. A lot of people are doing that now with traditional health insurance as well.
We work around the high deductible by budgeting a certain amount each month for out-of-pocket medical expenses. It’s kind of like an informal health emergency fund, ready if we need it. You pretty much have to do that if you have a high deductible with any program.
In a way, it’s a bit like self-insuring, at least for the first $10,000. But it’s comforting to know that Medi-Share will pay 100% of medical costs above that annual deductible.
What we like about it
- With typical insurance, you pay a monthly premium, but have no idea where the money is going. With Medi-Share you are informed of who you are sharing with each month – you can then pray and send letters of support for those members.
- For most members there is a substantial cost savings over health insurance. Most families can save $2,000 a year.
- They help cover adoption expenses (they sent us a check for $3,000 after our adoption!)
- They have been operating for 25 years.
- The members vote and make the rules. So each year the members vote on what will and won’t be covered.
- There is no limit on the amount of bills that can be shared by members.
Things to be aware of…
- You have to be accepted into the program – not everyone is accepted. And you must agree to their Statement of Faith.
- You must adhere to living a Biblical lifestyle in order to maintain your membership. Not doing so can get you expelled from the program and will likely nullify any claims you may have as well.
- “Medi-Share doesn’t share in all costs. All members vote on a yearly basis what costs to share. Routine physicals and health maintenance costs are currently not eligible for sharing.”
- Membership is not denied due to pre-existing conditions; however, there are guidelines in place concerning pre-ex-that limit sharing of pre-existing conditions.
Linda and I are both very comfortable with Medi-Share. More than anything else, it’s mostly a matter of getting comfortable with something different.
One of our biggest concerns when we were considering it was that we would be facing a huge medical bill and that the members would just decide not to “share” with us to cover it.
After talking to the Medi-Share representative, it sounds like that isn’t much of a concern if you follow the rules. She explained that in the last 24 years every eligible need has been covered (shared or discounted). But “eligible” is the key word here.
For example, she told me a story of a member who was in a bad car accident requiring lots of medical work, but since the person was intoxicated when they got into the accident, the expense was not covered by Medi-Share. On one hand I think you should give the guy a break, but at the same time it is the strict rules and policies that make the program work. The whole point is that by living a Biblical lifestyle you will be healthier, therefore have fewer medical expenses.
From what I understand, they often use leftover funds to even help cover ineligible expenses like these as a gesture of grace.
It seems like the program is perfect for healthy Christians who are committed to the Biblical lifestyle. If you already have many health conditions or are prone to lapses into substance abuse, it may not be worth it.
If you are interested in learning more just click the link below to get pricing info from them, and I would suggest calling them to ask any other questions that you have.
I would love to hear other Medishare reviews from other members – so if you have had experience with Medi-Share, please share about it in the comments…