Christian Care Medi-Share Review and Reflections After 2 Years

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It’s now been two years since our family signed up for Medi-Share.

I first reviewed Medi-Share based on its features, values, and benefits.  Just over a year later, I reviewed it based on my experiences.  Unfortunately, for the most part, the first few doctor visits we had were overwhelmingly negative.  I hated to do such a negative review, but I felt like it was part of my obligation to share how we felt about Medi-Share.

As time has passed, I think I’ve been able to find more value in our Medi-Share membership.

Important facts about my negative Medi-Share experiences:

  • We were in a transitional stage of our lives.  We’d spent a month in Cheyenne, Wyoming, a month in Beamsville, Ontario, Canada, and a month in Houston, Texas.  In retrospect, any need to see a doctor when you’re not located in a city is always frustrating.  We’ve experienced the same thing in Memphis when we just moved and had just joined Blue Cross Blue Shield.

As such, since our lives are a little more normal and we’ve had several additional visits to doctor’s offices, I want to share how all those experiences turned out.

Medi-Share Review and Experiences

Case #1: Our youngest somehow cuts the bridge of her nose while climbing under the table.

We visited a local urgent care facility where we know someone.  Like any worried parents, we didn’t check to see if the facility was in our network.  However, when we checked in, they only charged us the co-pay and took our card.  Unfortunately, we did later receive a bill for over $400 since Medi-Share didn’t cover any part of the trip.  How could we expect them to since we went somewhere out of network?  In the end, it worked just as it would have if we had any other insurance.

Case #2: Our youngest needs to see the doctor because of a high fever.

This time we checked to be sure we find a facility in network.  There was no hassle getting the doctors office to take our Medi-Share card.  They processed everything directly with Medi-Share, and once everything was settled, we got a bill for the remaining balance. In the end, it worked just as it would have if we had any other insurance.

Case #3: I have skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma – the best type of skin cancer) that needs a simple surgical procedure. 

In the end, I had three visits to a dermatologist to take care of the skin cancer.  During the second procedure, I had a small surgical procedure to remove the skin cancer.

Because we elected to have a higher ‘family portion’, we ended up paying for everything out of pocket.  However, having Medi-Share was great because we were able to get some significant in-network savings.

So far, we’ve never exceeded our annual household share portion, but for the last several visits to the doctor, Medi-Share has functioned as it was supposed to.

Reflections After Two Years With Medi-Share

  1. Medi-Share still is the best price available for our family.  To double check that, I visited ehealthinsurance.com.  The best price I could find for our family of 5 was $460 per month with an outrageous $20,000 deductible.  By comparison, we pay $298 with a $5,000 family share portion (comparable to a deductible).
  2. As a Medi-Share participant, it is best to tell doctors and providers that you are part of the PHCS Network.  This is the network Christian Care Ministries participates with, and it is the name that doctors and providers recognize (instead of saying Medi-Share).
Now two years into Medi-Share, we’re glad we’re part of the medical sharing program.  We have had some negative experiences, but I think that was just part of learning the system.  Now that we’re settled in one place and have our set doctors within the network, things seem to be working out well.  In the end, I’m glad I’m not paying an extra $150 per month for insurance with a much higher deductible.

Considerations if You’re Considering Medi-Share:

  1. This is NOT health insurance.  This is Christian medical sharing.  When you pay your monthly premium, the funds are deposited into an account.  When members have a claim, funds to pay for the expenses are taken from the combined account.  Of course, a portion of the fees you pay do also go to cover the administrative costs of the organization.
  2. Approval is not automatic.  If you have serious medical issues, then your opportunity to be part of Medi-Share is definitely less likely than others.  Also, as a Medi-Share member, you must adhere to certain lifestyle choices specified by Medi-Share.  One such example is a member “Cannot use tobacco or illegal drugs in any form, or abuse legal drugs or alcohol”.
  3. Certain health conditions (i.e. diabetes, excess weight, high cholesterol) may incur an excess charge of $80 per month.

Some Medi-Share Specific Lingo to Help You Get Started if You’re Considering Medi-Share:

Annual Household Portion: A household portion is best understood as a deductible.  Unlike most insurance companies, the household portion is by family – not individual.  Thus, an insurance company might have a $2,000 deductible, but you might pay that for two family members.  With Medi-Share, your household portion is for everyone covered under your plan.  Household portions range from $500 – $10,000.

Standard Monthly Share: Most insurance companies would call this premiums.  It’s the amount of money you’ll pay each month to participate in Medi-Share.

Health Incentive: A special program for ‘healthy’ participants.  If you’re eligible, you can save 20% off your Standard Monthly Share.

If you have any questions about Medi-Share, please feel free to email (mhforc at gmail dot com) or leave a comment.

Any other Medi-Share users out there?  What have been your experiences?

 

Comments

  1. Todd Fuller says

    Craig we have been on Medi-Share 2.0 for 3 years. I’d say your latest write-up is basically good, except we did exceed our AHP this year because of the birth of our son.

    However, a couple things from your write-up:

    1. You said: “Unfortunately, we did later receive a bill for over $400 since Medi-Share didn’t cover any part of the trip. How could we expect them to since we went somewhere out of network?”

    Since you said your family has never reached his AHP (similar to a “deductible” with insurance) this is likely why Medi-Share members did not pay anything on this bill, not because you were out of network. If you were out of network, that doesn’t automatically mean the bill won’t be eligible for sharing nor shared if over the AHP. I’d check your Explanation of Sharing for that bill and see what it says.

    We had a couple of bills that were “out of network” that were still paid by the Medi-Share members because we were over our AHP. These were both anesthesiologist charges. Anesthesiologists are notorious for signing contracts with hospitals to be exclusive providers of anesthesiology in that hospital, then in turn ducking everyone’s PPO or network, albeit except for the largest of networks in that particular state. (you can’t duck the largest network in your state unless you want millions of angry customers calling/going to the hospital)

    2. Discounting of medical bills: You are right, even if a bill is eligible for sharing (what you call “covered” which is an insurance word), but, you are not over your AHP (annual household portion – what insurance companies call a “deductible”), your bill may still receive an in-network discount.

    However, for well/preventative visits this discount is tiny or non-existent altogether. For other services such as labs or hospitals, the discount exists, but is not remarkable, often 20%, nothing more than you would get for being self-pay. But the main thing is some sort of “stop-loss” is in place if you had an unfortunate year with medical expenses. Self-pay discounts for labs are as high as 60%, for example, Solstas Labs out of Winston Salem NC where many Charlotte area providers send lab work.

    Our hospital charges for the birth of our son were “only” discounted 20% by PHCS. This is actually quite low. The hospital would have given a 20% discount anyway for self-pay. In comparison, Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC, the state’s largest network by far (6 million members+) gets a roughly 35% discount on maternity hospital bills.

    But, the trade-off is you pay much more for BCBS of NC.

    And the important thing as said, there is a “stop-loss” still in place, that of your annual household portion – in our case, $3,750 per year for our AHP.

    Had we not had Medi-Share or any other health plan the hospital and related providers would have been billing us a total of around $31,000, leaving us alone with trying to have erroneous charges removed and negotiate bills. Even with a “standard” 20% self-pay discount, we still would probably have been on the hook for well over $20K, maybe less if we would have went to the hospital a few months before delivery to try to pre-negotiate a self-pay rate.

    …Overall, we are pleased with Medi-Share and plan to stick with it for year four. We also like the emphasis of living a Godly, Christ-centered lifestyle that MS emphasizes, which traditional insurance does not.

  2. says

    Craig…we use Medi-Share and love it. As a self employed, faith-based adviser, it helps keep our families health care costs low and even provides a financial incentive for us to live healthier lives. Since we are vegans anyways, the lower costs help us justify our costlier, but healthy lifestyle. With traditional insurance, I always felt I was subsidizing the unhealthy policy holders.

    I saw an article on CNBC.com today that was about 50-Somethings Having Their Own Health-Care Crisis. It mentioned several alternatives, but it did not mention Medi-Share. I would think for Christians this type of insurance alternative is a no-brainer.

    • says

      Jeff,
      Thanks for the feedback. You sound like an ideal Medi-Share customer. In your situation (much like my own) it’s nearly impossible to find a better arrangement.
      Unfortunately, we’ve never been able to qualify for the health incentive even though we eat and live very healthy lifestyles.

      • Todd Fuller says

        Craig,

        I am a curious as to why you never qualified for the health incentive discount?
        We are not vegans.

        Todd

        • says

          Todd,
          My wife’s BMI is too low. She’s always been a slender person. We’ve even spent the last three months trying to fatten her up :). She’s been doing strength training, drinking protein shakes, and eating all the rich in protein foods our health advisor suggested. Despite all her hard work she wasn’t able to gain the needed 5 pounds. Just yesterday we finally resolved ourselves to the fact that it’s just not going to happen.

  3. Todd Fuller says

    I have the opposite problem, too high of a BMI. The good thing (and bad thing) is that BMI is just an estimate of one’s “body fatness” using height and weight. It is pretty good for the vast majority of folks at estimating the percentage of fat to lean muscle/skeletal mass. But, with really short people, or really tall people, it is no good. The good thing is, that MS seems to understand this and will take other factors in to consideration.

    A more accurate way to measure “body fatness” is having someone, preferrably a fitness professional such as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, use skinfold calipers to check 5 to 7 locations on the body. The most accurate way is using a water tank device, where the person goes submerged in a water tank, but, these are expensive and hard to find.

    Everyone needs an “essential” minimum amount of fat – women a bit more than man. The bad news is, most Americans have too much.

  4. says

    Craig,

    Just wanted to say a big thank you for sharing your Medishare experience!! My husband and I are considering this (along with Samaritan Ministry), so reading your personal experience and the other comments was very helpful. God bless you!

    P.S. Thanks for your input and personal experience as well, Todd Fuller! Very helpful details.

    • Todd Fuller says

      Yeah, no problem. In the next several weeks or so, I intend to post a “final report” of sorts on our first major experience with Medi-Share 2.0, that related to the birth of our son on MS 2.0. Overall, a good experience, and most of the “bad” was related to the maternity sharing limit which now no longer exists for eligible births as of August 1, 2012. The side effects of that limit were, and still are, a pain to deal with, but that limit is no more.

  5. CJ Lynn says

    Hey, I was wondering if anyone knows how to find out what services are “covered”? (maybe covered isn’t the right term in this case, but what things will be eligible to be paid) Most of my first choice health care is alternative/preventative which insurance companies limit if they cover at all. Chiropractic, Massage Therapy, nutrition supplements…
    Do you think I could contact them with specific billing codes to find out about coverage when I’m not a member?
    thanks for any info!! =)

    • Todd Fuller says

      See here for what is possibly eligible for sharing: http://mychristiancare.org/guidelines.aspx

      The guidelines are reasonably detailed. Section VI is the probably sweet spot for you.

      I’d say that alternative and chiropractic are definitely possibly eligible for sharing. Medi-Share is big in to preventative; they provide a health discount if you meet certain criteria (weight, body fat % or BMI, and HbA1c level).

      Calling and giving specific CPT codes is not a bad idea, although in the murky world of medical billing, shopping around before the fact is almost considered illegal to hospitals, providers, health plans and health insurance companies. Now, it will be different if you were shopping for anything else like a car, TV, house, etc.

  6. Wanda King says

    I’m looking at Medi-Share now since the advent of “Obamacare”. I’m 67 and would go the Senior Assist route; have paid a premium to another company for about 2 yrs. now, and so far haven’t had any need for them to pay anything for me. Have been well, thank the Lord! I think I could get the Senior Assist cheaper than the premium I’m paying right now for a medi-gap policy. The current thrust of this administration on abortion and contraceptive coverage gives me terrible pause and distress for the moral decay that has engulfed this country. – I want to go a more constructive and Christian route with where I put my money if I can qualify. – Thanks for your review!
    W. King

  7. David says

    I am a pastor of a small church in NY. We are considering joining CCM and wonder if anyone is part of CCM as a pastor/missionary/Christian worker and also has their church/agency also providing them some funds for out-of-pocket expenses on a tax-free basis? We now have a high deductible health plan with an HSA, but HSA is not compatible with CCM’s program. It looks like a Health Reimbursement Arrangement (HRA) is/was the way to go, but recent articles seem to indicate that ACA has squashed the use of these as stand-alone HRAs. Anyone have any knowledge of HRAs in light of ACA? (IRS pub 969 talks about HRAs.) as it might work with CCM? Thanks.

  8. says

    I am a pastor in Houston, Texas, thinking to join Medi-Share do you know the networks or Hospitals that will take medi-share in the Houston area?
    Thanks for sharing your experiences.
    Pastor Medina

  9. ron says

    Hi,thanks for sharing your thoughts.I am a single 50 year old male,self employed.I live in NJ and was wondering how i would go about evaluating if medishare would be right for me.I have no health issues and was thinking of getting catastrophic coverage.Would you recommend researching on ehealth insurance for a comparison? Any insights that you can provide would be helpful,thank yo in advance! Ron

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