Update March 2012: I’ve written a post that talks about my Medi-Share experiences. This has updated information on my thoughts regarding Medi-Share so I recommend you also read that post.
My mommy always taught me to share.
Now, I teach my kids to share.
The question is – am I willing to share my medical costs? How you answer that question significantly determines if you should consider Medi-Share.org.
If you’ve read this blog, you know I’ve been frustrated by the high cost of international health insurance. In fact, I’ve compared the Canadian and American health systems (based on my own experiences), and I’ve never felt completely satisfied with all the hassles and costs associated with either system.
To be perfectly honest, our long term decision regarding our full-time home when we leave PNG (either Canada or the United States) will be significantly impacted by the health insurance question. Since I plan to make my living blogging and freelance writing, I’ll be responsible for my own insurance costs. If you’ve been sheltered from your actual medical expenses by an employer who provides everything, you should be thankful for the coverage you have.
Health insurance for self-employed individuals is very expensive.
For a lot of people, the cost of traditional health insurance is burdensome. I’ve suggested people might try to consider increasing their deductibles, but today there is also another option people can consider.
Before I get there, let me be clear. I started researching Medi-Share.org because they have an affiliate relationship. I wanted to know if they were a company I’d feel comfortable using. My comments in this post are my own reflections, but I will not make a specific recommendation because I have never used them. Consider this post my fact finding mission and not a comprehensive analysis of all things Medi-Share. I’d rather introduce you to the company and the concept, and then set you loose to find out all the exact details as they relate to your life.
Medi-Share.org : Medical Health Insurance Alternative Sharing for Christians
What is Medi-Share?
In order to answer that question, I need to first tell you what it is NOT. Medi-Share is NOT MEDICAL INSURANCE. They explain it this way on their website:
Health insurance comes with a contractual guarantee to pay your medical bills. For over 17 years our participants have been faithfully sharing medical bills on a non-guaranteed basis, trusting the Lord to provide in their time of need through the voluntary gifts of other like-minded Christians.
What does that mean? It means when you have a medical expense, the group approves the expense. I’ve scanned the comments on this post, and most of the comments by users tend to be very positive. The consensus from employees at Medi-Share and current users is that if the claim is legitimate, it will be paid.
How does it work?
Here are the basics from the website:
Every household has an individual account with our partner, America’s Christian Credit Union (ACCU), used for the sole purpose of sharing. The monthly shares are deposited in the individual ACCU account, bringing financial integrity and security to the sharing process. Each month, CCM matches up monthly share amounts with other participants’ eligible medical needs and transfers funds between accounts to facilitate sharing.
Instead of a deductible, when you select a plan you get an “Annual Household Portion”. Either $500 (only for young single people), $1250, $2500, $3750, $5000, $7500, or $10,000. Basically, you’ll pay that amount of your medical costs, and after you meet your Annual Household Portion, your treatments will be open for medical sharing.
When you go to the doctor, if your provider submits all the bills then everything will be processed and checked by Medi-Share. If approved, the bill will either be applied towards your household portion or posted for sharing (approval).
How does the price of Medi-Share.org compare?
I checked my family rate for traditional health insurance using eHealthInsurance.com (assuming we were living in Cheyenne). The rate I could get with a $1000 deductible is about double the rate I could get at Medi-Share with a $1250 deductible. A 57% savings with Medi-Share definitely gets my attention!
Personally, I think insurance is biblical. I don’t think there is anything in the Bible that requires the use of medical sharing nor is there anything that requires it. As such, the decision to use medical sharing instead of traditional health insurance would be more of a financial choice than a biblical one.
Who is an ideal Medi-Share candidate?
- Someone who is healthy. Medi-Share does not cover pre-existing conditions. They even have a health incentive (20% discount) for those who meet their strict health standards and pass certain medical tests. If you are a family, both adults must be extra healthy to get the discount.
- Someone who is a Christian who has a conservative Christian lifestyle. Medi-Share has requirements like “Must not engage in sex outside of traditional Christian marriage” or “Cannot use tobacco or illegal drugs in any form, or abuse legal drugs or alcohol.” In his post on the topic, Bob at ChristianPF shared that one individual was declined coverage because he was driving while drunk which caused an accident.
- People who do not currently have access to reasonable health insurance plans.
- US citizens, permanent residents, or possibly a missionary living overseas.
Who should avoid Medical Sharing?
Personally, if I had a full-time job that provided full benefits, I wouldn’t consider Medi-Share. I think that it is an alternative for people who do not have full coverage provided.
What concerns and questions do I have?
Like anything, it is absolutely essential that you understand what you are getting with your money. I do plan to pursue Medi-share as a personal option in the future, but not until I’ve done some more through research. My wife and I would probably write down our 546,343 questions, and I’d call and have a long conversation to be sure I understand everything and to be sure the plan works well for our family.
Things I’d specifically like to know:
- Financial health of the organization. Is there a reasonable balance to cover claims?
- Turn around time. How quickly do you process claims?
- What types of claims have not been processed and covered?
When I do move to the States in a year and a half, I will consider Medi-Share. We’ve recently renewed our international heath insurance, and I have no energy to mess with changes right now.
I’d really like to know your thoughts and reactions if you’ve had any dealings with Medi-Share. Are you a member? Were you a member? How was/is your experience? I’d love to hear more medical sharing stories.
Updated: October 2011. I decided to become a Medi-Share member. If you want me to refer you please send an email to mhforc at gmail dot com. I do get compensated for the referral, but that’s one way I can help keep the material on this website free.