Comparing Medical Cost Sharing Plans and Which One I Chose (Medi-Share Review)

family sitting in field

family sitting in field

With open enrollment around the corner for many people, thought we'd re-share this healthcare alternative that Matthew and his wife found in, Medi-Share. So far, they've been happy for the switch.

Picking up where I left off

Everybody has their temporary obsessions. Some people research their ancestors. Some people binge watch The Walking Dead. My temporary obsession has been researching and comparing medical cost sharing organizations (fun huh?!). These organizations offer a lawful alternative to health insurance. My previous post covered the basics of medical cost sharing. More recently, I’ve been looking at the similarities and differences between available cost sharing programs.

What makes the plans alike

At first, the various medical cost sharing plans sounded like country songs to me, basically the same. The four major organizations I researched (Samaritan Ministries, Liberty Share, Medi-Share, and Christian Health Care) share a lot in common.

  1. Low costall the plans beat the marketplace by a landslide
  2. Good testimonials just like any product, there are plenty of people who can vouch for the plans based on good experiences
  3. A lack (somewhat) of complaintsI don’t think zero complaints is possible (people even say bad things about Qdoba for goodness sake!). But I do like to see a vast majority of good things said about a product. This is the case for medical cost sharing.
  4. Biblical standardsAll the plans have a religious basis. Each program boasts of the community aspect of looking after each other.
  5. LimitationsGenerally, pre-existing conditions are not covered. Costs that occur due to “non-Christian” activities (excessive drinking, sex, etc.) are also not covered

medical cost sharing plan

What makes the plans different   

When I boiled down pros and cons In my research of different medical sharing plans, a few of factors differentiated one plan from another that applied to my needs. First, I want the least amount of leg work in negotiating medical bills. This was based on personal inexperience and wanting to avoid hassle during a possibly stressful time for Alli. Second, having a network of medical providers that could at least guide my choices is important to me personally. Third, the more automated and electronic the money transfer is, the better for me. Lastly, having a personal reference nearby to answer my questions is valuable. Here’s how the sharing plans fared in my personal demolition derby of medical cost sharing. 

Samaritan Ministries

Liberty Share

Medi-Share

Christian Health Care

Negotiating Bills Encouraged Minimal Minimal Encouraged
Network of Providers No No Yes – PCHS network No
Automated Money Transfers No – checks sent in mail Yes Yes Yes
Personal References Yes – 3 positive references No No No

Based on personal references giving confidence to the concept of medical cost sharing (although most of the stories were about Samaritan Ministries), I decided to go ahead and apply for medical cost sharing through Medi-Share. One perk that helped seal the deal was a health discount (based on BMI, blood pressure, and cholesterol) on the monthly share.

Are health care sharing plans compliant with ACA? Yes. Members of health care sharing ministries are exempt from the individual responsibility requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as Obamacare. This means members of health care sharing ministries are not required to have insurance as outlined in the individual mandate.

Hedging my bet

Remember that budget crunch I mentioned in my last post – 950 more dollars out of pocket per month – those skinny jeans I was dreading putting on? I think I found a pair (slim fit), that will be the best of both worlds.

I have to give credit where it’s due on this one – my wife. She crafted a plan where we cautiously use Medi-Share for a year to see how things function when the rubber meets the road. The money we save each month would be set aside in a separate account – Health Savings Account (after tax unfortunately) and/or a different checking account, to serve as a medical emergency fund. We already have an emergency fund and HSA set up with reasonable sums, so we won’t be starting at ground zero . We have an escape hatch in September of 2018 when my employer-based insurance plan has open enrollment.

The math

Here’s how I broke down the costs of healthcare insurance vs. Medi-Share. I based this on 15 doctor visits and 2 emergency room visits.

Insurance

Medi-Share

0 Annual Fee 100
12 x 950 = 11,400 Monthly Premiums 12 x 250 = 3000
0 – covered Dental and Vision 12 x 100 = 1200 (separate plan)
7000 Max Family Deductible 2500
0 Co-pay 15 visits x 35 = 525

2 ER visits x 135 = 270

Total visit costs = 795

$18,400 TOTAL COST $7595

The plan is to save $600 per month (950 plan – 350 plan)  in the first year to pad the emergency fund and Health Savings Account. Are there scenarios that are unpredictable and tragic? Yes. But Medi-Share is supposed to step up in these situations and hopefully our testimonial would have the same positive ring as the testimonials on their website. I’m predicting possible buyer’s remorse or anxiety until that first medical bill is paid in full (hopefully with the help of others!). Stay tuned.

Signup for Medi-Share

Update – 7 Months After Choosing Medi-Share

This was the best case scenario for the follow-up I didn’t want to write. I was lamenting about having a sick wife or child and finding out on the fly how medical cost sharing works with Medi-Share. This past month, the inevitable happened – we had to walk into the medical clinic. Luckily, this was only a check-up! It served as a learning experience as we were getting a handle on how well medical cost sharing would work.

The Bad

My wife, Alli, walked into our child’s medical building, which Medi-Share lists as an accepted health care facility because of its participation in the PHCS network. The Medi-Share card she was holding looked just like an insurance card with instructions for providers and patients. It did not go well at the front desk. There was confusion (by everyone), frustration (by Alli), and tears (by the baby) as the front desk refused to take down the information. They were insistent that Alli submit bills directly to Medi-Share, which is contrary to what Medi-Share instructs.

Alli then went to work to clear this up with Medi-Share, which to their credit, was willing to fix. Since Medi-Share isn’t near as common as normal insurance, this health provider wasn’t up to speed as to how Medi-Share works. Medi-Share insured us that they would contact the health provider to get things smoothed out. After many days and multiple phone calls, things seem to be working as they we expected with this health care provider.

The Good

Alli and I knew going in that there would be a trade off for our savings with Medi-Share ($700 per month on premiums alone!). This would require leg work by us and new hoops to learn how to jump through. Our monthly costs have remained low, which has done wonders for our monthly budget.

The Conclusion

It will take a lot more hassle to make us reconsider Medi-Share – the savings per month are simply too big!  

What factors are important to you when you think about your health care options?

Signup for Medi-Share

Read more about Matthew's journey with medical cost-sharing insurance:

Part 1: What is Medical Cost Sharing Healthcare Insurance and Is it a Good Alternative?

Part 3: Knowns and Unknowns in Medical Cost Sharing (Medi-Share Review)

And, how he and his wife save on their cell phone bills each month.

FAQs

What ARE the Medi-Share plans based on?

Medi-Share has a formula to determine what each participant owes for their medical plan. It's based on your age, how many members in your household and your annual household portion (AHP).

how Medi-Share plans are determined

And, then you can pick a AHP based on your budget.

AHP Medi-Share plans

Who can qualify for Medi-Share?

To qualify for Medi-Share, you must meet these requirements for coverage:

  • A testimony that indicates a personal relationship with Christ
  • Agree to the Statement of Faith
  • Members must not engage in premarital sex
  • Must not be involved in unbiblical practices such as drunkenness, tobacco, etc.
  • Members must be a legal alien with a visa or green card and Social Security number. Missionaries serving in other countries may qualify.
  • You must desire to bear the burdens of others

What are the co-pays?

Participants pay a small provider fee of $35 at the medical office.

What is the difference between Medi-Share and short-term or limited plans?

Here's a rundown of some advantages that Medi-Share has over short-term or limited medical plans.

medi-share vs short-term plans
Comparison of Medi-Share vs short-term or limited plans (courtesy of Medi-Share)

This post contains affiliate links. TTG may earn a commission on purchases made through these links, at no cost to you. We try not advertise products or services that we have not personally tested or use.

Medi-Share

9.1

Customer Service

9.5/10

Cost

8.7/10

Thriftyness

9.0/10

Pros

  • Costs are lower for healthcare
  • Share in others burdens
  • Not contributing to large healthcare company profits

Cons

  • Stricter criteria to enroll

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10 Comments

  1. Have you checked out Knew Health? It’s more inclusive without being based-off of faith/religion. I’ve saved so much compared to former bcbs & there are no caps!

  2. Looks like you have some good points here but do not include the highest rated HealthShare, Zion Health in your review. Please update so we can see how Zion Health would compare.

  3. I’m am considering joining a medical sharing organization after using traditional insurance. I’m an empty nester with a wife. We are in our 50’s. Relatively healthy. I am curious on where you stand after using medical sharing for your family for now a couple years. Any regrets?

  4. You should take a look at Sedera Health, they do not require a faith component and have excellent customer care. I’ve been with them for a year now and am so impressed.

    • Thanks for the suggestion Juliet.

  5. We are attempting to compare Health Sharing Plans. Seems like a big difference is: 1. Preventative covered/not-covered? With a newborn, it seems well-baby visits should be covered. 2. Provider handles billing/payments vs WE handle submitting bills(needs) and payments. Time consuming and complicated if we do it. 3. Where we send our amount due for plan each month (Plan or individuals with needs…which change every month, and could be a hassle). 4. Limits per year or per “event” (seems unwise to have a limit since some major illnesses could be way above those limits). Leaning toward Medishare. Did you compare these issues? Thoughts?

    • Hey Pam – great questions! I definitely looked into those factors.
      1. Regular visits to the doctor for our newborn were covered on our MediShare plan. The bills were submitted to MediShare, lowered, then we paid them because we are still under the annual deductible. Shots are not covered, but shots are free anyways in my state for people who don’t have insurance (which is technically us now!).
      2. MediShare handles the bills, BUT I will say it has taken some time and headaches to work with medical office personnel who are not familiar with MediShare. Everything has worked out eventually, but initially there is leg work with each medical facility you go to (try to stay in network!!). 3. Monthly cost is standard every month. EFT was a feature I appreciate – no check writing. MediShare sets up a separate account where my funds go each month. From there, they take the funds and disburse them where needed.
      4. Out of pocket limit is on a per-year basis…called your annual household portion and functions the same as an annual deductible in the insurance world.
      Hope this helps!

  6. So now that you are a few months into this health sharing what are your thoughts? Have you had any doctor or ER visits to share with other members yet.
    I currently have no health insurance because an Obamacare compliant policy would cost me and my wife $1550 a month with $12,000 deductible. I simply cannot afford health insurance at that cost, I have to pay bills like food and shelter.

    • Hey Scott – thanks for the comment! I’m actually writing a quick post to update folks on how it has been so far. My experience has been great so far – BUT…isn’t everybody’s experience great when all parties have been healthy?? Haha. I’ve certainly been pleased with the monthly cost. When the rubber meets the road (or when the doctor’s reflex hammer hits my child), I’ll be able to give a more confident testimony. Stay tuned!

  7. 2013 National Institute of Health study put the median cost of ER visit at $1,233.


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