Joining the Christian medical expense sharing community, Medi-Share, for around $300/month has been a fantastic financial move for my family. Prior to joining this healthcare expense-sharing community, I was paying $1,100 per month for a health insurance plan with Humana!
Medi-Share is not insurance (nor is it charity as you’ll see). But it’s a great alternative for some. And even without the Obamacare mandate, this alternative will continue to be a great option for my family and could be for yours, too.
Medi-Share is a healthcare sharing program where Christians share financial resources to pay each other’s medical expenses. Since 1993, over $875 million has been shared and discounted among Medi-Share members. It’s a proven biblical model of healthcare–Christians helping Christians.
Table of Contents:
What is Medi-Share?
How Does Medi-Share Work?
Advantages of Medi-Share
Disadvantages of Medi-Share
How Much is Medi-Share?
How to Join Medi-Share
- 1 What is Medi-Share?
- 2 How Does Medi-Share Work?
- 3 Medi-Share Coverage
- 4 Advantages of Medi-Share
- 5 Disadvantages of Medi-Share
- 6 Other Considerations
- 7 How Much is Medi-Share?
- 8 So Is Medi-Share for You?
- 9 How to Join Medi-Share
- 10 The Bottom Line on Medi-Share
- 11 Medishare Summary
- 12 Pros
- 13 Cons
Medi-Share is a non-profit, medical expense sharing program for Christians. Members share in each other’s health expenses.
Essentially, each month, we all place our monthly share (like a premium) into one big pot (technically a credit union account,) and those with expenses use that money to pay their bills. It’s not insurance. But for some, it is the ideal replacement for health insurance.
Read on to learn more about how Medi-Share works, what are its advantages and disadvantages, as well as my personal experience so you can know what to expect should you decide to join yourself.
Check Out Medi-Share.
If you’re unfamiliar with Medi-Share, here are the basics of how their healthcare sharing ministry works.
Annual Household Portion
Members choose an annual household portion (AHP), which is similar to an annual deductible. The size of your portion determines how much you will have to pay out-of-pocket for covered medical expenses before the health share kicks in. You get to choose how much you can afford for both the AHP and the monthly share.
The size of the AHP you choose will determine your monthly share. For my family of five, we chose a $10,000 AHP, which is high, but it means a lower monthly share (which we pay $235 per month). In the case of an emergency, we could handle having to pay $10,000 out of pocket, and we enjoy the savings that the lower monthly share affords. If your family would struggle with such a high AHP, you could choose a lower AHP but then will pay more in monthly portions.
As with traditional insurance, you will still pay a provider fee (like a co-pay) of $35 for doctor visits and $135 for emergency room care. Routine well patient care–such as annual physicals–and dental and vision care are not covered by Medi-Share, so you need to be prepared for those expenses throughout the year.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
Medi-Share is partnered with the preferred provider organization PHCS, and members are encouraged to seek care from providers within the PHCS network–but you are free to choose treatment with an out-of-network doctor. However, if you do so, a penalty may be applied for going out of network.
When you need medical care, you will hand over your Medi-Share card and pay your provider fee, and the provider will bill Medi-Share. The medical bill will be processed and discounted, and then your doctor will bill you for the amount you owe. Once the amount you pay meets your AHP for the year, your eligible medical bills will be approved for sharing.
Families may take up to 20% off their monthly share amount by qualifying for the health incentive. To qualify, all adult Medi-Share members in the household must meet certain health criteria, including blood pressure and BMI and weight/waist measurement. It was this health incentive which has helped spur me to lose some weight over the past couple of years–and it put money back in my pocket in addition to improving my health!
Click Here to Join Medi-Share.
Below is a quick breakdown of what Medi-share will and will not cover as of October 2019.
Here a few of the medical expenses that are eligible for sharing with Medi-share.
- Doctors visits
- Medi-share offers free telehealth access. Talk to virtual doctors at absolutely no cost to you.
- If you need to see a doctor in person, choose a physician that is a member of PHCS, Medi-Share’s preferred primary provider organization (PPO). You’ll pay a $35 provider fee that does not count towards your AHP. And you’ll also eligible for in-network discounts.
- Emergency room visits: Members must pay a $200 provider fee that does not count towards your AHP.
- Hospitalizations: Members must pay a $35 provider fee per hospital visit that does not count towards your AHP.
- Prescriptions: Up to 6 months of FDA-approved prescription drugs per eligible treatment
- Sharing is limited to $125,000 for any single pregnancy event
- To be eligible, your AHP must be $3,000 or higher and you must have faithfully shared from the month of conception through the month of delivery.
- Well-child care: Sharing for routine well-child care is eligible until the child reaches the age of six.
- Adoption costs: For members who meet certain criteria, up to two adoption events can be shared per household.
- Senior assist: Seniors with Medicare Parts A and B can enjoy the benefits of healthcare sharing of medical bills that Medicare doesn’t pay, including copayments, deductibles, hospitalization and out of country urgent care.
- Disability expenses: Through their Manna program, Medi-Share is able to replace up to 80% of lost income for up to a year for Manna members.
- Final expenses: Up to $5,000 of funeral expenses are eligible for sharing
Ok, so now let’s take a look at a few of the expenses that aren’t eligible for sharing with Medi-Share:
- Dental, vision, and hearing: While these expenses aren’t eligible for sharing, Medi-Share does give members savings cards that provide exclusive discounts.
- Dental: Save 20% to 60% on most dental procedures.
- Vision: Save up to 30% on eye exams, glasses, contact lenses, and LASIK surgery.
- Hearing: Save 30% to 60% on hearing aids
- Routine and preventive care: Including physicals, immunizations, vaccines, mammograms, lab studies, and colonoscopies
- Fertility/infertility care: Including birth control, infertility testing, and sterilization
- Alternative care: Including vitamins, acupuncture, and experimental treatments
- Counseling: Including dietary counseling, diabetic counseling, lactation counseling, or genetic counseling
- Behavioral or mental care
- Cosmetic procedures
- Non-prescription drugs
- Hearing aids
Medical Expenses That Are Eligible for Limited Sharing
The following expenses are eligible for sharing under certain situations, such as when ordered by a certified physician, when medically necessary, or when supported by current medical treatment standard of care.
- Ambulance (or other medical transport services)
- Cardiac rehabilitation (up to 36 sessions)
- Chiropractic care
- Durable Medical Equipment (DME)
- Genetic testing
- Home care (limited to 60 calendar days)
- Non-hospital admissions
- Outpatient speech therapy (up to 10 visits)
- Physical therapy (up to 20 visits)
- Physiciatric or primary care evaluation
- Sleep apnea studies
Let’s explore some of the positives of this sharing program.
Escape the Market Altogether
Before Obamacare came along, I used to pay $300 a month for a $10,000 deductible health insurance policy. I am self-employed and make a solid income. However, once that law was passed, my monthly premiums shot up to $1,100 a month!
With the future of American health insurance still being unclear, you may feel uncomfortable with a system that is being tinkered with in real-time and Medi-Share allows you to leave all that behind.
You Can Join Anytime
That’s right. You can apply for Medi-Share and join it anytime during the year. With Obamacare, you are forced to join within their open enrollment period, which runs from November 1 to December 15, unless you have a change in status (move, have a baby, etc).
You may be looking at this review during open enrollment but understand that you can jump on Medishare anytime during the year. And you don’t need one of the special exemptions to make the move.
It’s Significantly Cheaper
Compared to unsubsidized health insurance under Obamacare, Medi-Share is a huge money saver.
My own family’s switch has shown very significant savings. (See below for details) Medi-Share is affordable compared to health insurance because they can be more discriminate in who they serve.
However, there are some disadvantages to Medi-Share too:
No Health Savings Account (HSA) Contributions
Since Medi-Share is not insurance, you can’t qualify for an HSA. HSA’s as you know, require you to have a high-deductible health insurance plan. This is a major bummer for me. I was really enjoying the annual tax deduction from contributions to our HSA.
Medi-Share is working with Congress on a bill that might allow HSAs to be used with sharing programs. I’m contacting my Representative to ask him to support this. Don’t worry if you already have funds in an HSA. You can still use them for qualifying medical expenses. We plan to use ours for expenses that aren’t covered by our particular Medi-Share plan.
No Tax Deductions
Health insurance premiums are tax-deductible. Medi-Share contributions are not. That said, medical expenses are still deductible, subject to a threshold based on a percentage of your adjusted gross income. Have a business with a few employees? You may be able to deduct the cost of reimbursing them for their Medi-Share monthly share. I did this myself by setting up a QSEHRA. Read more about that here.
There have been a few anecdotal cases of doctors and hospitals refusing to bill Medi-Share, and instead, asking the patient to pay out-of-pocket. In some cases, this may stem from the fact that the PHCS network that Medi-Share uses is not the universal PHCS provider network.
It’s incumbent on Medi-Share Members to call PHCS directly to confirm that the provider you want to see is covered under the Medi-Share PHCS system.
That said, the anecdotes of providers being unwilling to bill Medi-Share have still had happy endings. In particular, this mother’s cancer treatment was prepaid by Medi-Share at self-pay rates after the provider initially refused to accept the plan. The health share ministry made sure to come through for her.
However, receiving a huge out-of-pocket bill from a provider can come as a shock to a family who has already paid their full portion. Since you want to be focused on getting well rather than on finances, this bears keeping in mind.
Join Medi-Share Today.
It’s important to understand how Medi-Share works. It’s not a charity or a way for Christians to help the needy. My tithe to the Church or individual giving through certain charities is how I take care of that.
Medi-Share is simply sharing among believers. So to have the right to share, you have to be a believer and living an active Christian lifestyle.
Get injured in an accident where you were driving drunk? No coverage. Get an STD from an extra-marital affair? No coverage. When you join Medi-Share, you agree to live your life according to biblical principles.
2. You must have a Christian faith and be attending church regularly
To participate in the program you’ll need to sign a form professing your faith and share your Church information.
3. Restrictions for maternity expenses
Expecting? Don’t expect to just jump on Medi-Share six months in and get full coverage. You can have children on the plan, but to get full coverage you will have to be participating in the plan before you get pregnant. Otherwise, coverage has limitations.
4. Restrictions for pre-existing conditions
Common sense dictates that to make Medi-Share work, you can’t just have people jumping on the program after they discover a major medical need.
But Medi-Share members can receive up to $100,000 per year for pre-existing conditions once they’ve been faithfully sharing for at least 36 consecutive months. And they can receive up to $500,000 per year once they’ve been sharing for 60 consecutive months.
Save on Health Coverage with Medi-Share.
I’m in my early 40s with a wife and three kids. As a family, we pay ~$300 a month and have a $10,500 Annual Household Portion (i.e. our Medishare “deductible”).
For a lower deductible, like $3,000, then your monthly payment would be $736. Here’s a chart based on my age and number of people on the plan:
We used to pay $1,100 a month with Humana. So in just the first seven months of being with Medi-Share, we had already saved $4,388! Here’s how that breaks down:
- With Obamacare, we would have paid a minimum of $7,700 ($1,100 x 7 months) in premiums.
- With Medi-Share we’ve paid $1,960 ($280 x 7 months) in premiums.
- Copays are roughly the same under both plans.
- With Medi-Share we’ve paid roughly $70 each for five sick visits for the kids, and $475 each for the two well visits (six months and nine months) for our son. This totaled up to roughly $1,352.83. The well visits were a shock, but still not as shocking as an Obamacare premium.
Here’s a screenshot of our deductible (annual household portion) usage as of our first year with Medi-Share:
Click here to get started with Medi-Share.
There’s a lot on the line when it comes to your family’s medical needs. Take plenty of time to evaluate all of the pros and cons of the program and don’t forget to consider your long-term plans. Are you having more children? Will you get married soon? Are you about to retire and qualify for Medicare? All these things and more make a difference.
Medi-Share makes sense for my family because:
- We are self-employed Christians and don’t mind being obligated to the coverage restrictions related to lifestyle.
- Our income will likely exclude us from being subsidized in the Obamacare health insurance marketplace. Medi-Share gives us considerable monetary savings.
- We don’t have pre-existing conditions and we don’t plan on having any more children (i.e. we don’t have maternity care needs).
It takes a while to go through the application process so leave yourself plenty of time. Here are the major steps:
- Click the link below which will take you to an application.
- Complete the medical forms and testimony of faith.
- Complete the power of attorney for the share account (set up with a credit union).
- Make your first share payment.
Click here to apply to Medi-Share.
While Medi-Share isn’t insurance, it could be a great way to save on healthcare costs this year. If you qualify for subsidized health insurance, your monthly payments may already be affordable. But if you’ve been paying for unsubsidized health insurance, Medi-Share could save you a ton of money.
Are you a Medi-Share member? If so, please share your experiences in the comments!
- significant cost savings over Obamacare
- excellent customer service
- promotes Christian values
- easy to sign up
- not HSA eligible
- not tax deductible