As someone who holds a strong religious faith, I am always interested in how different organizations put their faith into action, how an organization can function as an efficient corporation while at the same time remaining true to the principles of their faith. So when I came across Medi-Share, run by the Christian Care Ministry, I just had to investigate them.
What is Medi-Share?
Medi-Share was established in 1993 by the Christian Care Ministry. They are a not-for-profit organization created by Dr E John Reinhold as a part of the American Evangelistic Association, which is a cross-denominational organization which attempts to proclaim the Gospel through every facet of life. The focus of the Christian Care Ministry is “biblical healthcare solutions for Christians.
Before 1993, some members of the American Evangelistic Association had operated an informal bill-sharing system; this was to become Medi-Share when Dr E John Reinhold set himself the task of formalizing it and creating a community that “agree to share in the burden of new and unexpected injuries or sickness.”.
How Medi-Share works
Today with the ever-rising costs of healthcare in the USA, and faced with a limited range of solutions, many people have been searching for a health care alternative which is more affordable. Christians have an option that they may not have heard of called Medi-Share. As a Medi-Share member, you have access to a USA-wide network of doctors. Coverage is not limited to any particular state or financial limit.
Medi-Share works by setting a monthly share amount that relates to your age and number of family members. This share is paid into the system to pay for the medical bills of other members. As a member, you set an AHP, which is the amount you pay before you can share your costs with the community of members. You pay any medical bills up until you reach the AHP amount (you have to provide receipts), and then all medical bills over that amount are shared by the community.
The level of AHP you set affects what your monthly share amount is going to be (how much you pay each month). The higher the AHP, the lower your share amount. You choose an AHP that fits your household budget.
If you need to make a claim, visit one of the listed providers, show your membership card, pay a small provider fee (about $35) and the provider will provide you with all your eligible treatment and simply send the bill to Medi-Share, they do everything else.
A novel feature is that when another member uses your share amount, you get a message that tells you the first name of that person and you can message them and send prayers and encouragement. Similarly, when you have to share your health bills, your first name is sent to members who shared with you, and they will message you with prayers and good wishes.
As members of Medi-Share members receive certain benefits, which are:
Choice of over 900,000 service providers in their network.Free 24/7 access via telephone or video to board-certified doctors.Discounts on prescriptionsSelect Savings cardHealth incentive discountAbility to earn a $100 referral feePrayers and encouragementAffordable careDisability sharing
I will be looking at these benefits in more detail later in this review.
This is a secondary scheme for seniors (over 65s) who have medicare parts A and B. Seniors have an AHP of $1,250 and after they have paid that amount Medi-Share will pay 100% of all medical bills (the bit that Medicare does not cover).
The cost of Senior Assist is
$70 a month for those between 65 to 70$85 a month for those between 71 to 75$95 a month for those over 76 years of age
Medicare for groups
As a Christian employer, you can take out cover for your employees, and it works out at about 50% of the costs that traditional health insurance would.
Who is the Christian Care Ministry?
The operators of Medi-Share, Christian Care Ministry, base their operations on their interpretation of what the bible says about helping each other. The Christian community that makes up Medi-Share has opted to follow the way that members of the early Christian church lived. You can read about this in Acts 2 & 4, which talks of sharing each other’s burdens.
Worthy as these Christian core values are, I suspect that most new members are encouraged by the difficulties of finding affordable health care and are attracted by the price. Indeed Medi-Share is a very affordable option in today’s society.
In the following list, I have included some sample figures to demonstrate the costs of Medi-Share membership and the benefits that each level of membership would provide. The monthly share is the monthly premium, and the AHP is the amount you pay before your bills are shared. This example is for a 40-Year-old married man and his wife, living in Pennsylvania.
Monthly Share AHP
(this is just for illustrative purposes. You need to get an individual quote)
Pros of Medi-ShareCost-Effective
Medi-Share is a very cost-effective solution for singles and families seeking low-cost health cover. The ability to set your monthly share payment that matches your budget is an attractive solution.
Exempt from the individual mandate clause of the Affordable Care Act
Medi-Share members will not be penalized for not having medical insurance.
Membership cannot be terminated for developing a medical condition.
With some insurance, it is possible to get the policy terminated if you develop certain medical conditions. With Medi-Share, you are protected.
No annual or lifetime limits
Whatever bad luck you have and whatever healthcare bills you accumulate, Medi-Share does not set a maximum annual or lifetime limit/ceiling.
Qualified adoption and funeral expenses are covered.
Up to two adoption events can be shared by members. A single adoption of multiple children counts as one adoption. The adoption benefit is only available to members who have a monthly share of $2,500 or higher. There are conditions for this benefit (check the Medi-Share website).
Membership is not affected by the state of residence or employment status.
Medi-Share is audited annually.
Cons of Medi-ShareNot insurance
Many states will not accept Medi-Share as an insurance company. This means that whereas there are legal protections for insurance policyholders, these rules do not apply to Medi-Share.
Limited legal protection
Health care cost-sharing ministries are not a traditional insurance. There’s no legal obligation for the ministry to cover your bills. If there were a significant health incident and a lot of claims were suddenly made, it is possible that the organization could run out of money. This said during the COVID-19 Pandemic there seemed to be no concerns by Medi-Share who offered generous benefits to members.
Pre-existing conditions restrictions /additional payments
Medi-Share will not pay for claims regarding pre-existing conditions for the first 36 months. There may be limitations on the value of bills that can be shared. It would be wise to check directly with Medi-Share on this.
All adults who are members must “attest to a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ,” and pastors may be contacted by the organization for confirmation of this.
All members also agree to the following conditions – They will live by biblical standards, bear one another’s burden, and actively attend a church group regularly.
Members should not have used tobacco or illegal drugs for twelve months before joining, and finally, they should not engage in sexual relations before marriage.
Cannot use with HSA or reimbursement plans
Since Medi-Share is not insurance, it is not possible to use it with HSA.
Comparisons with other schemes
Medi-Share vs Liberty Healthshare
Healthcare ministries are on the rise, as a reaction to the significant health care companies and their insatiable appetite for profits. In this section, I am going to make some comparisons between Medi-Share and Liberty healthshare (two of the top schemes in the country).
Let’s begin with how similar they are, and then we can identify the differences.
First of all, as I have been stressing throughout this article, Medi-Share and Liberty Healthshare are not insurance companies. They both have members who pay monthly donations into a pool that pays for the healthcare needs of any members (subject to conditions). They look like insurance, I grant you, but legally they are not, and that is what matters.
Your status in both cases is that you are the same as a self-pay patient; it’s just that you have a whole bunch of friends who help you pay your healthcare costs. Generally speaking, most providers of health care quite like this as they will probably get their money quicker that way than waiting for the lumber healthcare insure megaliths to pay up.
Both organizations hand out membership cards that members produce when they want the services of a provider, and both have what is essentially a deductible (although they may call it something very different).
Both Medi-Share and Liberty Healthshare have a religious declaration that you will need to sign up to. In looking at them, I would say that Liberty is a lot less rigid than that of Medi-Share, which is a 3 page PDF document.
To join Medi-share, there is a one-time application fee of $50 and then if approved a $120 Approval fee and $2 membership fee when you first join. With Liberty, the membership fee is a first-year membership fee of $135, followed by annual renewals at $75 p.a.
Medi-Share call these “Annual Household Portion” and they have seven choices ranging between $1,000 (single people only) and $10,500. Liberty Healthshare has just three options $1,000 to $2,250, and they call these “unshared amounts”.
If you are suffering financial hardship because of illness and consequential loss of earnings, then Medishare may waive three monthly payments in any year. If you are with Liberty healthcare then it seems you are on your own.
Medi-Share has a scheme by which those members that meet certain levels of health standards. Can receive a discount on their monthly share Liberty Healthshare does not operate any discount.
Keeping You Healthy
If Medi-Share thinks you are at a higher risk from potential diseases because of being out of shape, then they may insist that you become a health Partner (for which they charge you a fee) and you are allocated a coach. With Liberty Healthshare if you have pre-existing conditions, they will insist that you join their HealthTrac program. They will charge you around $80 a month extra to participate in this program.
For the first 12 months with Liberty Healthshare, you are not covered for these conditions. For the following months through to 36 months, you receive coverage up to a maximum annual amount of $50,000. After that, you are fully covered. With Medi-Share, it is far more complex, even defining what a pre-existing condition is. You need to check with Medi-Share on your personal situation.
If you are a Senior Medi-Care does not allow you to be a member. Instead, you join Senior assist, which offers different payments and services. With Liberty Healthshare you can carry ion with membership but at higher premiums.
Maternity and adoption
With Liberty Healthshare as long as you were a member before conception. Medi-Share has limits on the amount they will pay and only for those paying higher monthly shares.
Liberty Healthshare only covers Tier 4 prescriptions for 45 days after the medical incident. They do give members a discount card for cheaper prescriptions. Medi-Share covers drugs prescribed by a medical professional for six months.
Annual & Lifetime Limits
Medi-Share does not have limits, simple as that. Liberty Healthshare has no lifetime limit, but they do have annual limits depending on what plan you are enrolled in.
With Liberty Healthshare once you reach the qualification for sharing, then there are no further fees. With Medi-Share there is a $35 fee for visiting a doctor and a $200 provider fee for visiting an emergency room.
Routine &Preventative care
Liberty Healthshare covers, subject to deductibles. Medi-Share is not so simple, and anyone over six is not covered.
The Provider Network
With Medi-Share, it uses a “Preferred Provider Organization”, whenever it can. If you choose to use a non-PPO facility, it will cost you and extra 20% or $500, whichever is less. This requirement may be waived in the case of a grave emergency. Liberty Health share has 23,000 providers on their PPO list, but it is your choice whether you use them or not, and there is no financial penalty.
When You Die
Liberty Healthshare offers payments to members, their spouse, and dependent child. Medishare provides a benefit for just the member.
With Liberty Healthshare, you are going to be allowed up to 12 visits per year, and also receive discounts for further treatments with a card. Medi-Share requires visits to be authorized by an authorized physician.
Physical Speech Occupational Respiratory Therapies
Liberty Healthshare allows you up to 12 visits for every type of therapy, with an option for a further eight after a medical reassessment. Medi-Share allows up to 20 visits for therapies, except outpatient speech therapy where you get 10.
With Liberty Healthshare it’s a straight not eligible. With Medi-Share evaluations MAY be eligible but treatment is not.
So Which Plan is Best Overall, Liberty Healthshare Complete or Medi-Share?
As you can see from the above, itemized descriptions of the service levels, there are occasions when Liberty Healthshare come out on top, and times when it is Medishare. Which is going to be best overall will have a lot to do with which plans meet your individual needs.
To be honest, it is pretty close and using this information; different people may find one or the other better. So putting that aside, if we look at the overall costs, since that is an essential factor, we can see that Liberty Healthshare is cheaper than Medi-Share, BUT Medi-share does come out on top in specific vital categories. I would be very much in favour of calling it a tie, but overall on balance, I have to declare Liberty Healthshare the winner..
Medi-Share vs Samaritan Ministries
I was planning to do a similar detailed breakdown for Samaritan Ministries v Medi-Share, in this article, but then I realized that much of the comparisons would be repetitive and it would push this article into being far too long to retain the interest of the reader.
I also concluded that at the same time, in many ways the two are very different in nature and a direct comparison would not be possible without first explaining about Samaritan Ministries in the same detail that I have talked about Medi-Share. I hope that it will be possible to do a detailed article about Samaritan Ministries and then append a comparison to the end of that article, having already explained about Medi-Share.
One of the problems that keep coming up for Medi-Share is that it looks too much like insurance, members get confused and authorities fear that this confusion is a problem. The fact that Medi-Share sends the monthly share to a single account and then distributes it is one of the primary reasons that Medi-Share attracts concern, It just looks much too much like an insurance company. Mow this problem does not face Samaritan Ministries where the members direct their share straight to a named individual. This reminds users that this is a shared medical costs program and they are not simply paying a medical insurance premium.
It’s a psychological difference that makes a big difference. How can you blame Samaritan Ministries for taking too long to pay the medical bills when you claim if the money is coming directly from other members? By doing it this way Samaritan Ministries avoids being cast in the role of the villain. This could well be why reviews about Samaritan Ministries are just so much more positive than those for Medi-Share. In fact, the overall customer experience is just so much more positive for Samaritan Ministries than Medi-share.
The problem appears to be that Medi-share has made the way they operate similar to the way an insurance company operates, possibly thinking that it would be familiar to the customer and easier to understand. However, the result has been that when they have to delay or decline a claim (Guaranteed to induce emotion) they are seen as just another insurance company. Samaritan Ministries are far more like the original concept of Christians helping each other and because of this, they receive gushing praise from their members. members who also receive a feel-good factor by personally sending shares direct to the member in need., much more satisfying than sending off the money without that personal connection.
The Better Business Bureau ranks Christian Care Ministries at A+. Despite having 29 complaints against them in the last three years, the company has responded well and resolved all but one.
Having read the correspondence in the complaints, t I feel that because of the emotional trauma connected with health scares and the over-priced charges that health care providers try to get away with, that many of these complaints were unjustified or premature.
Moving on to what users have said…..
Spencer Maige “Medi-Share immediately took her diagnosis to heart and was concerned about what was happening to us..”
Pastor Ariel Irizarry: It’s lovely to know that you can trust Medi-Share.”
Jordan Hess: “Medi-Share is more than just helping take care of medical bills, Medi-Share is a family. It’s a group of people that stick with you through the hardest of times of your life.”
If you are looking for a good service that feels like you are using an insurance company, and that will provide for your varied needs then Medi-Share is a great alternative to paying insurance premiums.. So are the other two Christian Healthcare Ministries mentioned in this review. It is simply a matter of reading the reviews and picking out the organization that offers the best package for your individual needs.