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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11 Comments

  1. Hi glad you went with Medishare several years ago after a lot of research we went with Liberty Healthshare this is what has happened to them now…keep an eye on Medishare too!

    Here are the most recent reveiws for Liberty Healthshare with the BBB They have over 200 complaints with the Attorney General and I have requested public release of those documents to me. Also they literally told my provider they could not pay 2500 dollars for a preapproved claim I made…it makes you look bad when you list them as an alternative. They are causing people to ruin their credit…I am on a crusade

    Run, RUN from this company! Member since 2/19 Like so many others, I joined up for LHS to try and save money on health insurance. Works great if you don\’t ever have a medical issue. My wife went in for an outpatient surgery in February. She ended up having to stay a night in the hospital. Bottom line, nothing has been paid and like so many others, we are getting bills and threats to be sent to collection. We are having to pay almost all of the bills out of pocket to keep our credit from being trashed. Unfortunately one of those bills is a huge number and I am not sure how we are going to cover it. LHS hasn\’t even paid the paltry amount that they have agreed to pay. I was told recently by a representative that they are on a \”First in, first out\” payment policy. Meaning they are paying the bills in the order they come in. Problem is they are just now getting to paying bills from Oct. of 2020! I can\’t think of too many healthcare providers who are OK waiting almost a year for payment. I honestly don\’t know how this company stays solvent. I am now forced to go back to my original insurance and pay the insanely high premiums. At least my bills will get paid in a timely manner and I won\’t get stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills that don\’t look like they are going to get paid. Oh, and their Medical Cost Savings Solutions is a joke. I called them to report a balance bill and the person I talked to sounded like she had no idea what I was talking about. DO NOT go with this company!
    Raymond T

    (1 star)
    09/26/2021

    I have been an “ON TIME” paying customer for several years. Also, a healthy individual who was diagnosed with skin cancer November 2020. My claims have not been paid to date, I’ve contacted Liberty Healthshare numerous times to be told it was being processed. This company gets my premium payment every month on time, but I am not a valued customer and I now have multiple offices sending me to collections. This has been a headache for me and praying for them to do as they should also doesn’t seem to work with this company. In past years I have referred customers and family to this company and with the service I have received after my surgery, I have stopped. This is utterly ridiculous and disappointing the burden that’s placed on me, a paying customer.
    Roger B

    (1 star)
    09/16/2021

    This business feels a lot like a Ponzi scheme that never pays off. My wife has been a member since 2019. We have paid monthly premiums of $299 for the first year and a half, then $399 for the next year and ongoing. We have also paid out-of-pocket deductibles of $1000 a year. We currently had $567.69 in claims that are designated as \”Paid by Members\”, dating back to 2019, for which we NEVER RECEIVED A CHECK. So they are unpaid. For 2021 we have $622.42 designated as \”Submitted for Sharing\”, which means they are approved for payment, for which we HAVE NEVER RECEIVED A CHECK. So we have a total of $1190.11 which should have been paid by now but we have not seen one nickel. For a \”faith-based\” business, this one is very sketchy. BTW, I have spoken to their representatives multiple times, and their explanation is that they are waiting to accumulate enough money to pay the outstanding claims. It just never seems to happen.
    Nancy N.

    (1 star)
    09/08/2021

    Poor company. Have been members since 2018 with prompt response early on. Last year after emergency room visits and increased medical costs, the run around one gets when you call is unbelievable – from incomplete documentation, to not sure what happened, there is no resolution. I have been paying expenses out of pocket so as not to ruin credit rating but am still waiting almost a year later for reimbursement. When you revise your request from paying to a medical facility to reimbursing yourself, the so called 180 days starts over Can’t believe this company calls themselves’Christian’. There is nothing Christian about scamming people!
    Nancey B

    (1 star)
    09/07/2021

    Do not use Liberty Healthshare. It has been 150 days since I went for my wellness check and they show a shareable amount of $400, but have yet to pay me. I had to take care of the bill myself. I have talked with them numerous times and they have continued to give me the same story, i.e., \”We pay bills on a first in/first out basis. Call back when the bill is 180 days old, then we can boost it to priority.\” This means the bill can sit around untill they get the money to pay it. They cannot give you a date or a let you know when they might pay it. They cannot talk to Financial. You cannot talk to financial. Yes, I agree, with the other reviews, I do not believe this organization is \”Christian\” or they would not treat their members the way they do. I believe they are just operating under that pretense to lure people into a false sense of legitimacy. STAY AWAY FROM THIS SO-CALLED MINISTRY.
    CaryH

    (1 star)
    09/02/2021

    As a member, I am extremely frustrated with LHS\’s lack of follow-through and support in paying my medical bills as marketed when you solicited me to join their network. From the date of service of July 2020, billed and submitted in December 2020, these reimbursements are still in processing. After calling monthly to your customer service who can only offer to resubmit, which is proving to be a futile process, I get no answers or updates; it\’s just in a black hole and a waste of your CSRs and my time. They need to be shut down!
    Deb

    (1 star)
    08/31/2021

    This company does not deserve even 1 star. I have been a member with them since 2015 and they are terrible beyond measure in paying our providers. I have unresolved claims from August 2020, my doctors are billing me due to not being satisfied with Liberty\’s adjustments and payments. Although, some have been resubmitted and processed and waiting for payment; it is unacceptable that our doctors have to wait this long (over a year now and still waiting) for payment. Liberty\’s resolution department, part of MCS Solutions is supposed to be working with our providers to resolve these matters, and I have forwarded all the bills as I get them from my providers but nothing getting resolved as far as my doctors are concerned since they are still waiting to be paid for services. I would not recommend this company to anyone looking for medical coverage, rather go on your state\’s plan or healthcare.gov. I have cancelled my membership with Liberty Healthshare effective 8/31/2021 and would like all my providers bills to be paid so I can be finally done with having to deal with this company.
    AMY M

    (4 stars)
    08/30/2021

    Was a member with Liberty Healthshare for the past 3 years. Monthly share amount more than doubled. I had WellCare visits in 2019 that were reimbursed in 3 months. My 2020 WellCare as of August 30th has been approved for sharing but not paid 8 months later. I have cancelled my membership because they are unable to tell me anything about when I can expect my money. This now is evidence that they can’t meet their monthly share amounts in a timely manner. If I had a catastrophic medical emergency, I see no evidence that they would be able to cover my expenses.
    Carol

    (1 star)
    08/23/2021

    Horrible company! My premium was paid timely and they will not respond to any medical services in a timely manner. Do NOT use Liberty Health Share-you will lose your money and basically have no medical coverage. Zero stars — STAY AWAY
    Maria G

    (1 star)
    08/23/2021

    This is the worst company I have ever dealt with. Can\’t even give 1 star Don\’t be fooled by this \”Christian company\” they are scammers

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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!

  8. 2013 National Institute of Health study put the median cost of ER visit at $1,233.


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