The Top 4 Medical Sharing Ministries & How They Work

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Last week I introduced you to a little-known alternative to health insurance, medical sharing plans. Depending on your situation, they could be an affordable alternative to traditional health insurance.

 

There is no set standard for how these ministries work, each is unique in its rules and structure. Here are the details on the top four programs:

 

Medishare

Providers

Medishare has a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) that has agreed to discount their fees to members. You have to present your Medishare ID in order to receive the discount. Some providers even provide discounts to members for medical care that is not eligible for sharing.

 

Members who see non-PPO, or out-of-network, medical professionals are only reimbursed what the costs would have been in-network and are responsible to pay any excess on their own. There is also an additional out-of-pocket cost for using non-PPO hospitals and facilities, but there is a limit to what a member has to pay. Extra costs may be waived in the event of a life-threatening injury.

 

Payments

Through their website, Medishare pairs up members’ monthly payments with other members’ eligible bills. They coordinate the direct sharing of medical costs between members. In this way, you know exactly where your money is going and can also lift up those other members in prayer. All sharing is taken care of automatically through a credit union account.

 

Pre-Existing Conditions

There is an annual maximum shared amount for pre-existing conditions. This limit depends on the status of the pre-existing condition and the duration of a person’s membership.

 

Conditions Not Covered

Not every medical bill is eligible for sharing. Mental health care, alternative care, dental services, cosmetic procedures, fertility treatments, and routine and preventive care are not covered.

 

Members must also follow a Christian lifestyle and agree to a Statement of Faith. Bills will not be shared or membership can be canceled for violations of either.

 

For example, motor vehicle accidents are not eligible for sharing if there was alcohol or drug abuse involved, or if the vehicle was used in a race, to perform a stunt, or in the commission of a crime. Pregnancies outside of marriage are not covered unless caused by a rape that was reported to the authorities.

 

Samaritan Ministries

Providers

With Samaritan Ministries, there is no network. You can use any provider you want. The provider will consider you a cash-paying customer (which will often get you a discount).

 

Payments

When you receive treatment, you pay your provider as a cash-payer. Then, other members of the ministry send their monthly payments to you to cover the cost. In the same way, you send your monthly payment to another member as assigned and can also send them notes of encouragement and lift them up in prayer.

 

Pre-Existing Conditions

Samaritan Ministries does not cover most pre-existing conditions unless:

  1. It was considered “cured” and does not show symptoms for more than 12 months
  2. It was considered stable and does not show symptoms for more than 5 years

 

They do not cover Type 1 diabetes even if it fulfills one of the above requirements. High blood pressure and elevated cholesterol levels are not considered pre-existing conditions.

 

Conditions Not Covered

Most things prescribed by a licensed medical professional are shareable, but not all things. Medical practices contrary to Scripture, such as abortion, are not shared, as are medical expenses caused by a failure to live according to the agreed-upon Christian standard. Other things that aren’t covered are routine dental work, elective cosmetic surgery, fertility treatments, psychological services, and contraception, to name a few.

 

Liberty Healthshare

Providers

With Liberty Healthshare, there is no network. You can use any provider you want because they see you as a cash-paying customer (which will often get you a discount).

 

Payments

Payments are centralized with Liberty Healthshare. Each member pays them monthly, and they, in turn, send money to their members in need.

 

Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions are not covered during the first 12 months of membership. There is a limit to the shareable amount in years 2 and 3. After that, pre-existing conditions are treated just as any other condition.

 

Conditions Not Covered

Expenses are not shared for dental and vision services or procedures, tier 1-3 prescriptions, elective services, and expenses other than accidents, acute illness, or injury within the first 60 days of membership. They are also not shared when they are caused by a failure to live according to the agreed upon moral standard.

 

Christian Healthcare Ministries

Providers

With Christian Healthcare Ministries, there is no network. You can use any provider you want and they will consider you a cash-paying customer (which will often get you a discount).

 

Payments

Christian Healthcare Ministries handles payments centrally. Each monthly payment goes directly to the ministry, and reimbursements for medical bills come from the ministry itself, not individuals.

 

Pre-Existing Conditions

Pre-existing conditions are not covered if they are undergoing active treatment other than with maintenance, or routine, medications. Once the incident is over and you are on a maintenance treatment regimen, coverage will be phased in over a period of 3 years only for gold level members.

 

Conditions Not Covered

Christian Healthcare Ministries does not share bills for alternative or chiropractic treatment, contraceptives, fertility, sterilization, incidental medical expenses, elective surgery, psychological treatment or a number of other things. They do not share bills for things that violate their code of conduct, such as drug and alcohol abuse, pregnancies of unwed mothers, and non-accidental self-inflicted injuries.

 

This is not a comprehensive list, there are other healthcare sharing ministries as well. Remember, each ministry is different and will meet different needs. You should make sure that you have a full understanding of what they offer and what they don’t offer before signing up, especially if you have a pre-existing condition.

 

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