Sunday, January 9, 2011

A Christian health insurance alternative

7:30 PM |

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.” I have spent some time digging into it and it looks very intriguing – it seems to offer most of the benefits of health insurance, but with lower premiums. They say that most families will save 30-50% in premiums each year.

A little about Medi-Share
Medi-Share was founded on the Biblical principle of God’s word found in Ephesians 4:28 which tells us to share with those in need.
“He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.” Ephesians 4:28
While their website answered a lot of my questions, I still called to get a more thorough understanding of how the program works…

Each month all the members pay their “share” (a fixed amount depending on the plan you select) into an account with their name on it to Christian Credit Union. The funds in all of those accounts are what pay the member’s medical bills each month. “Each plan essentially tallies medical claims each month, then divides by the number of members, officials say. After subtracting for overhead and administrative expenses, the rest goes to pay claims.”
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

What I 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 save $2000 a year on premiums.
■They have been operating for 16 years.
■The members vote and make the rules. So each year the members vote on what will and won’t be covered.
■Each member is covered up to $1 million per year or $5 million total.

Things to be aware of…
■You have to be accepted into the program. Not everyone is accepted.
■You must adhere to living a strict 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.”
■Prior health conditions are not covered. If you sign up and have been taking medication for high blood pressure, it will not be covered. Only medical conditions that begin after joining are eligible.

Final thoughts
One of my biggest concerns was that I would be facing a huge medical bill and that the members would just decide not to “share” with me 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 16 years every eligible need has been covered. 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.
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 probably wouldn’t be worth it.
I would love to hear from some members – so if you have had experience with Medi-Share, please share about it in the comments

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