My experience with alternative health insurance to Obamacare

A few months ago, I shared about how to survive without health insurance. To recap, I belong to a healthcare sharing ministry (HSM) called Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM), just one of several ministries that are ACA-approved alternatives to health insurance. But I also want to share about my experiences with alternative health insurance to Obamacare.

What we belong to is not healthcare insurance; therefore, we don't pay a premium (although we pay a “gift” each month or what amounts to a deductible, except it's called a “personal responsibilty”). We chose this option because neither my husband nor I have access to an employer-sponsored plan. The most important consideration for us was cost, followed by coverage options. We opted for the most expensive level, which means that we have a $500 personal responsibility for each medical event that each of our family members experience on an annual basis.

Family of Five Pays $450 per Month for Health Insurance

Monopoly Pay Hospital $100 Community Chest card

At the time of the previous article, I was the only member of my family to belong, and I paid $150 per month. Now our entire family of five belongs for $450 per month. Even if our family size were to double, that is the maximum monthly contribution we'd have to make.

This amount covered me up to $125,000 per event; but, as some readers pointed out, medical bills can exceed that in the blink of an eye. Because of that, we felt that becoming part of our ministry's extra program would be valuable. For an extra $75 per quarter (and an annual fee of $40), we have no reimbursement cap per diagnosis.

How Alternative Health Insurance Works

Shortly after becoming a member, I had the opportunity to try out this way of paying medical bills when I learned that I was pregnant. I called the HSM right away to let them know and ask for instructions. As instructed, I called my doctor's office and the hospital where I planned to deliver to get an estimate of delivery charges. These documents were submitted to our HSM right away.

Throughout my pregnancy, as I received bills, I called each provider and asked for a discount. Most often, the discount was 20 percent. The greatest discount I received was 25 percent, and some places didn't offer discounts at all. But I learned not to take the first answer. One place in particular told me they did not offer discounts. When I called back and asked specifically for a 25 percent discount with an offer to pay the entire balance that day, I got what I asked for.

Once I received bills and itemized statements, I sent them to the HSM, although not always in a timely manner (but I'll explain why in a little bit). Usually, I was reimbursed within 60 days of submitting my bills, although the HSM says they will usually reimburse within 60 to 90 days. However, several months before my due date, I got a check from the HSM with instructions to pay my OB's charges in full and $1,000 to the hospital as prepayment for the delivery charges.

Up to that point, my pregnancy had gone smoothly. Then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, resulting in weekly fetal monitoring. I was induced, had a C-section, and my son developed jaundice. All these things resulted in expenses that were higher than the original estimates.

What I Like About It

I like paying only $450 per month, to be sure. I also like how the personal responsibility is handled. You are responsible for the first $500; but if you secure a discount, you are responsible only for the total minus the discount. So, as long as the remainder of my medical bills are reimbursed, I have paid $400 out of pocket for delivering a baby because I got a 20 percent discount on my first $500. The price is right.

I also liked being able to pay my OB early, as well as to start paying on the hospital bill.

What I Don't Like About It

I encountered a few difficulties as well. I am not a very organized person; so keeping track of all my bills, asking for discounts and itemized statements, and knowing which bills had and hadn't been reimbursed was tricky for me. By the end, I had created a system that made it more manageable, but it still caused me headaches.

I also wish I would have submitted some bills more quickly. I was having a $255.20 test every week; and since it was only (haha) $255.20 a week, I paid the bill and collected each itemized statement. After all, I didn't want to be sending off a letter every week. Wasn't it better to batch them? Well, as you know, $255.20 a week is over $1000 a month, not exactly pocket change. That caused us to feel quite pinched. And snail mail? By the end, I was emailing them. Duh, Lisa.

In addition to sending bills in more quickly, I also wish I would have utilized the providers' payment plans, just to give me some breathing room until the reimbursements came in.

But using the payment plans weren't my favorite thing either, and I didn't use them until I had to. Therefore, our savings accounts were dwindling. I felt — I am not sure — maybe irresponsible that I didn't pay each bill in full as I received it. My hospital bill was over $13,000, and while I could have taken money from our emergency fund to pay it, I didn't want to risk it. Our total bills were over $30,000, so if I had started this with that in mind, I think I would have planned better.

However, every single provider was very helpful as I explained our circumstances. And setting up the payment plans was simple; I just felt stressed about it. I think that doing this requires some savings — if you don't want to be completely stressed out, that is.

Is Alternative Health Insurance to Obamacare Effective?

As of today, I just have around $4,000 yet to be reimbursed. I am feeling relieved as I paid off three bills and have just a couple more to go. Working with the HSM was definitely a pleasure because they were so kind and helpful.

If I were able to get health insurance for my family with a small deductible, I might consider going back to conventional health coverage. However, now that I have had some experience, I know how to make it easier next time. So for as long as possible, our family will probably be paying for our eligible medical expenses in this way. So I guess I'd say yes, this type of alternative health insurance to Obamacare has been very effective at keeping our costs down.

Have you had experience with an alternative to Obamacare? How did you manage your medical bills and getting reimbursed?

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Tina in NJ
Tina in NJ
6 years ago

I hope you and your son are doing well, now. It’s refreshing to hear about health “insurance” that cares.

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
6 years ago
Reply to  Tina in NJ

We are both doing great. Thank you!

Kingston
Kingston
6 years ago

I am curious about the financial structure of this organization. Are they able to pay without fighting you over claims because, as a co-op of sorts, the profit motive is reduced or eliminated? Perhaps they don’t have executives being paid millions in annual compensation? Perhaps they get some preferential tax treatment as a religious organization? Would love to know more. It is intriguing but still sounds unwieldy and labor intensive for the patient. I envy my Canadian and European friends who just bring their health-care card to the doctor and get treated. I am paying $215 a month for ACA… Read more »

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
6 years ago
Reply to  Kingston

They are a 501(c)(3) organization. While their financial statements are available by email request, I haven’t checked them, so I am not sure how much their executives are compensated. It seems like a very modest organization, so I am guessing it’s not a huge amount. Not sure though.
The process is unwieldy, but I could have done things better.

Jim
Jim
2 years ago
Reply to  Lisa Aberle

On their tax return they listed the CEO’s salary as $250,000.

Michelle M
Michelle M
6 years ago
Reply to  Kingston

Each ministry works a little differently in distribution of funds. I am a part of Medi-Share. I submit my gift every month, it gets held in a Christian credit union, and is withdrawn and distributed by Medi-Share when needed. Medi-Share is also a part of a PPO network of docs (so I just make sure everyone, labs, hospitals, etc. are part of that network.) My OB/GYN, etc. just submits my bills like it was normal insurance. I get an EOB of sorts in the mail stating my portion. I then get billed by the medical professional or entity just like… Read more »

Michelle
Michelle
6 years ago

Love this article. I definitely find this interesting as we are in the beginning stages of researching new insurance. We have expensive and quite bad insurance as we pay $200 a month for a $12,700 deductible. We plan on having children within the next few years and we need to find something better than this.

Michelle
Michelle
6 years ago
Reply to  Michelle

I just received a letter in the mail stating that my plan will be increasing an extra $123 per month for the same bad plan. AHH!

Gwen
Gwen
4 years ago
Reply to  Michelle

My husband and I are now paying $1540 per month for insurance – a 30% increase from last year. Even last year it was too expensive as we are both VERY healthy. Needless to say we are looking for an alternative to BCBS. I’d love to hear from other members about their experiences.

Jacqueline Russo, RN,DDS
Jacqueline Russo, RN,DDS
4 years ago
Reply to  Michelle

Health Sharing is a great way for a healthy or minded person to take control of their medical costs. There are only 4 non-profits offering health sharing that is ObamaCare exempt. Liberty Health Share is one also. I am a member and love it. I have no network restrictions, and pay $299 for myself and my daughter with only $1,000 in unshared costs. So my total exposure to medical costs is my monthly share amount, $299 plus $1,000 in annual unshared amount up to $1 million per incident. Not to mention the incredible health and wellness platform, programs (like Telemedicine-… Read more »

Katie Ryan O'Connor
4 years ago

Thank you Jacqueline!

Thomas
Thomas
3 years ago

Good point about Liberty being non-profit. I left a ACA insurance company for Liberty this year. I was researching my old ACA insurance company and the CEO made $25 million in 2016! I’m getting my premiums jacked up with a massive deductible and he’s making $25m!

Becky @ RunFunDone
Becky @ RunFunDone
6 years ago

I’ve heard about these plans, but never knew how they worked. To be honest, it sounds like a LOT of work. Not to say that it’s not worth it, but calling businesses is my least favorite thing to do, so I’d struggle with calling and asking for a discount on each bill!

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
6 years ago

I don’t really like calling companies, either, but after calling them a few times, I had figured out what to say to get what I needed and off the phone ASAP! I negotiated with one by email which was great, but actually took longer.

sarah
sarah
6 years ago

I’m curious how the cost compares to other types of plans. The $450 seems very low for a family of 5 but the costs are a bit high, the process sounds very stressful, and I wasn’t clear on the risk if something catastrophic occurred. I know that NICU can add up into the hundreds of thousands quickly. Still, it’s a cool idea. I’ve often wondered why some do-gooder can’t create a non profit insurance company. Medical care is expensive and I understand why premiums are high but I’d love to know my money is going toward medical expenses and not… Read more »

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
6 years ago
Reply to  sarah

Sarah, the costs are actually reasonable, in my opinion. While I do have to wait for the checks to come in, I will end up paying less than $400 for my entire pregnancy, delivery, and any appointments that occurred during my son’s first three months. Since we are covered under the “extra” program I mentioned in the article, the same thing would occur. For instance, if I developed cancer, and my bills totaled $500,000, I would still be responsible for only the first $500. However, if we were not part of the extra program, we would be responsible for everything… Read more »

sarah
sarah
6 years ago
Reply to  Lisa Aberle

Wow, that is a good price. But… do you have to be a Christian?

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
6 years ago
Reply to  sarah

Sarah, for my particular organization, yes. I am not sure of the requirements for similar organizations.

imelda
imelda
6 years ago
Reply to  sarah

@Lisa: Surely, as a 501c3, they are not able to discriminate based on religion???

ETA: Ugh. I am very disappointed to learn that legalized religious discrimination is a thing, and supported by our tax dollars. E.g. http://sarleslaw.com/news/NonProfitNewletter_04.pdf

Michael
Michael
4 years ago
Reply to  sarah

imelda, it doesn’t make money so it doesn’t really matter if it’s tax-exempt. Basically, these organizations run a lean operation off of a small administration percentage and most of the funds are paid from members to members.

I know Samaritan uses their 501c3 status to vouch for donations but those are only for extra gifts to members beyond the monthly share (like if someone hears a member has a pre-existing condition and I want to kick in extra money to help them.) The regular member share is a quid pro quo so it’s not tax-deductible.

LW
LW
6 years ago
Reply to  Lisa Aberle

501c3s absolutely can be religious…churches are 501c3s. That comment didn’t even make sense.

Naomi
Naomi
6 years ago
Reply to  sarah

There are many nonprofit health insurance companies. Some Blue Cross companies are nonprofit, Group Health Cooperative, Kaiser Health Plan, to name a few.

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  sarah

I’ve often wondered why some do-gooder can’t create a non profit insurance company. Hi Sarah– I think that would be Kaiser Permanente– it’s a nonprofit, at least in name, and it’s been around for ages, but it’s not without its own failures, flaws & critics. Naomi mentioned others as well. I believe the new healthcare law requires that insurance companies use a minimum percentage of premium income paying medical claims (80 or 85%) otherwise they have to pay consumers a rebate. That leaves 15 or 20% for everything else (though some states have wavers for different reasons). If I’ve read… Read more »

sarah
sarah
6 years ago
Reply to  El Nerdo

Sure, but then how is Lisa’s so cheap? Surely she’s not the only Christian having babies and other various expensive health problems?

El Nerdo
El Nerdo
6 years ago
Reply to  sarah

HI Sarah, I have no idea why it’s the price it is; maybe it’s in the providers they contract with? Maybe it’s that single members subsidize large families? That’s a way to manage limited resources. Maybe they’re subsidized by church donations? Maybe they reduce provider costs by prepaying them instead of forcing them to work hard to collect on their claims? I really don’t know. In the end, there’s premium income and there are coverage payouts and they must balance out while allowing a net surplus after operational expenses. Profit or non-profit, no business can survive perpetual loss unless it’s… Read more »

SLCCOM
SLCCOM
6 years ago

There is nonprofit,and there is “nonprofit” because they shuffle their excess profits into a for-profit arm of the organization. The Blues are “nonprofit.”

Marsha
Marsha
6 years ago

I’ve known several families over the years who have participated in these ministries, and I’ve never heard a negative word from any of the participants. About 10 years ago, a friend explained to me how these ministries work, and I remember thinking how easy I had it because I did little paperwork or negotiation with providers. We’ve always had good medical insurance through my husband’s employer, so we would just pay our copays and rarely had to deal with medical bills. But the landscape is different now, even for those with “good” medical insurance. We are paying much more money… Read more »

sarah @ little bus on the prairie
sarah @ little bus on the prairie
6 years ago

If I recall correctly from when I was researching similar organizations 4 or 5 years ago, some of them do require that you have references from a pastor and stress that part of your commitment is to pray for the other members of the co-op and their medical needs.

Ginger
Ginger
6 years ago

$450 to me seems a little low, but not by much. Our family plan from my husband’s previous employer was $600/month and covered all of us and then I did not have to call and try to negotiate on my own and overall seems cheaper. For example, I paid $200 for giving birth and $150 for the OB visits coming up to that ($15/visit up to a max of $10, any above 10, free).

Dave
Dave
6 years ago
Reply to  Ginger

Are you factoring in whatever portion of the premium your husband’s employer paid? $600/month sounds way too good to be true for the plan you’ve described.

Ginger
Ginger
6 years ago
Reply to  Dave

Yes, I am. I know the exact amount because when you COBRA you get the whole amount (well 102% of the amount) to pay and that was the number I referenced.

Dave
Dave
6 years ago
Reply to  Ginger

I was probably reading too much into your plan based on the maternity benefit. My wife had a baby in July, and your $350 total out-of-pocket cost made me very jealous :).

Laurie
Laurie
1 year ago
Reply to  Dave

We had medishare insurance it is horrible! My husband had some major heart isssues and ended up in the hospital. They paid nothing, we ended up with a 10,000 bill. Every time we called all they wanted to do was pray. Prayers are great but doesn’t pay the collector and never gave us any reasons why or answers. It is affordable but for what we paid to them we could have just paid the hospital. I thought when we sat down with an insurance agent that I had asked all the right questions to make the right decision on insurance.… Read more »

Midwest Jane
Midwest Jane
6 years ago

Out of curiosity, I looked into these once, and most of them have morality and health clauses, i.e. if you get lung cancer (even from second hand smoke), they won’t cover it. Pregnancy out of wedlock? No. Type 2 diabetes? You should have eaten better. They definitely won’t cover many forms of contraception or treatment for STDs, etc. I’m also not sure if they cover mental health. Preventative care is also not covered at all. My neighbor with two kids has this type of “insurance,” and basically she only takes the children to the doctor when they are very sick.… Read more »

Carol
Carol
6 years ago
Reply to  Midwest Jane

The thought is to pay for your $200/year well visit, instead of an extra $200/month in insurance to cover preventive care. My dental coverage at work maxes out at $1500/year payout. While the cost of premiums is less than the checkups and cleanings that it covers, not everyone chooses to purchase this coverage because of the low limits.

Midwest Jane
Midwest Jane
6 years ago
Reply to  Carol

But the thought behind covering preventative care is that you save money in the long run. That’s why annuals to the OB-GYN are free under my high deductible plan, since it’s a lot cheaper and better for the patient to catch things early. I hope these plans at least strongly urge their members to go to well visits and run routine blood work. I remembered one more story I read about. Someone on one of these plans got hit by a drunk driver, and because of the morality clause, her care was initially denied because it involved drunk driving! She… Read more »

Holly
Holly
6 years ago
Reply to  Midwest Jane

Some of the healthcare sharing ministries include well visits in your premiums- including Liberty Healthshare, the HSM I am going to sign up for. With the new healthcare law, the cheapest plan now available in my state is more than $800 with a $12,000 deductible for my family of four. Getting “free well visits” doesn’t really do me any good when my old Pre-ACA plan was only $393 per month. If we join a HSM like Liberty Healthshare, we can pay around $400 per month for coverage and pay for our preventative care ourselves. The $400 monthly savings is more… Read more »

Lisa
Lisa
2 years ago
Reply to  Holly

And in fact, that’s how insurance was intended to work in the first place: by covering the cost of unexpected illness, and not preventative care. Part of the reason health coverage is so expensive is due to preventative care being covered, when it really should always be out-of-pocket.

Michelle M
Michelle M
6 years ago
Reply to  Midwest Jane

A large part of healthcare sharing ministries (HSM) are about personal responsibility. Since it is not actually health insurance they don’t have to provide coverage for things that considered outside of Christian morals and values (Medical expenses covered by Medi-Share HSM are voted on by members.) For instance, pregnancy out of wedlock, gotta be married. With Medi-Share HSM they also (currently) will cover a rape or incest pregnancy (since these are against the women’s will.) Get into a car accident while you were intoxicated or distracted (ie phone), not covered, speeding and get into an accident, not covered–that personal responsibility… Read more »

Christina
Christina
5 years ago
Reply to  Midwest Jane

I am a member of Christian Healthcare Ministries. They have been operating for 35 years and have a system in place to avoid going into bankruptcy from too many catastrophic medical bills. Specifically: 1) They put a cap of $125K per illness that they share through their regular program. This cap alone protects the Ministry from being swamped with catastrophic bills they can’t share. A member with $1M catastrophic bills would not even be processed under this program. BUT, see point number (2) below for what happens in those catastrophic instances. 2) For catastrophic medical needs that exceed the $125K… Read more »

Canadian
Canadian
6 years ago

I have a really hard time wrapping my head around the idea that somebody (an insurance company or a health ministry) can approve or deny the health care that my doctor and I decide is best for me.

The Canadian system isn’t perfect but I wouldn’t give it up for anything. I can’t imagine the stress of thinking about health care costs, arguing with insurance companies, negotiating bills, or tracking paperwork in the midst of an illness.

Michele
Michele
6 years ago
Reply to  Canadian

My FIL lives in BC and was hospitalized in March for breathing problems (he has COPD). He couldn’t get into his regular doctor to see if he could finally qualify for the home oxygen and eventually ended up in the ER. It was really the only way he could be seen and after he stabilized a bit he had to have a quick departure in order to qualify for the home oxygen that he needed. The inability to qualify for it beforehand is what sent him to the hospital in the first place, and after a two day visit, he… Read more »

Canadian
Canadian
6 years ago
Reply to  Michele

I agree that the Canadian system is not perfect and I’m sorry your FIL is having a difficult time. I DO need the Canadian system, however, and my experience has been fantastic. I have a serious lung condition and I have never had to wait for any test, scan, or treatment. I see my GP and two local specialists, and have seen out-of-province specialists for second opinions within 6 weeks of the referral. I’ve had 12 medical appointments in the last 8 weeks, believe me, I use the system. The American system works for people who can afford it. Everybody… Read more »

BD
BD
6 years ago
Reply to  Michele

Michele: Exactly. One of my Canadian friends lost her father due to the crappy health care in Canada and she’s pretty bitter about it. Cancer isn’t one of those things they put a top priority on, apparently. The process to get medical help moves too slow, and by the time her father was seen, it was too late. Had he lived in America, he might still be alive.

Lisa
Lisa
2 years ago
Reply to  Canadian

A Canadian friend of mine ended up traveling to the US for a simple surgery that continued to be delayed in Canada. She paid cash here. Our US system isn’t perfect, but at least the government doesn’t ultimately control when you get or do not get care.

Linda Vergon
5 years ago

(This comment came from Hrant, a reader of our daily newsletter.)

Is there anyone out there who has tried the Liberty Healthcare? Which has better coverage?

Linda Vergon
5 years ago

(This comment comes from Brian who emailed his question to Get Rich Slowly.)

Hi Lisa,
I came across your very informative post about health sharing and I had a few questions. With Liberty Healthshare, do you have to pay your medical bills out of pocket first, and then Liberty reimburses you, or do you just send them the bill and they cover it? Thanks!

Brian

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
5 years ago
Reply to  Linda Vergon

Brian, we’re actually using Christian Healthcare Ministries, not Liberty. However, with CHM, we pay the bills and then we are reimbursed. Not sure how it works with Liberty, though!

Brenda L.
Brenda L.
5 years ago

To everyone for feedback who has this type of plan. Do your plans require an in depth questionnaire and medical background check on what chronic health problems you already have? How are they checked out? Seems like several high risk patients could easily drain the funds and leave nothing to cover other plan members bills. Is it first come first serve, after all there is no guarantee of bill payments or reimbursements. Any feedback is appreciated.

Christina
Christina
5 years ago
Reply to  Brenda L.

For Christian Healthcare Ministries, there was no in-depth health questionnaire. When filling out their application for joining, there is one section of the form where they ask about any pre-existing conditions, and that is that. They don’t check – they rely on you to tell them the truth as a Christian to other Christians 🙂 That being said, when you submit medical needs for sharing you also sign a HIPAA medical info release form for them, which allows them to discuss your medical matters with your health providers as needed. This also allows them access to your medical records if… Read more »

Erika Y.
Erika Y.
5 years ago

I don’t typically comment on websites, but anytime I see a health share article I feel compelled to warn people as my family had such a horrible experience with Good Samaritan “insurance”. My father passed away nine years ago (at age 53) from congestive heart failure. His doctors said the heart failure stemmed from a virus which attacked his heart. He was otherwise completely healthy and a perfect candidate for heart transplant. Until reading the fine print of the group share policy my parents didn’t realize transplants were not covered. They were “kind of” covered — $100k for a surgery… Read more »

Christina
Christina
5 years ago
Reply to  Erika Y.

Truly sorry this happened to your father with Samaritan Ministries! I truly hope they have amended their policy by now to cover such treatments. My husband and I are members of Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM) and CHM does cover transplants. As a matter of fact, there was a feature in their newsletter a month or two ago about a member needing a stem cell transplant for cancer treatment that the Ministry covered in full (about $350K after discounts). CHM also prides itself of covering new and up-and-coming treatments if a member’s doctor recommends them, same treatments that are often denied… Read more »

Ted Pittenger
Ted Pittenger
5 years ago
Reply to  Christina

Dear Erika and Christina: On behalf of Samaritan Ministries, I think there may be a case of mistaken identity here. There was (I think they’ve shut down since) an insurer called Good Samaritan which was actually insurance, not a health care sharing ministry like Samaritan Ministries or CHM. We have done a thorough search of our records and cannot find a heart transplant need any time from 2004-2009 where the member was not part of our optional ministry called Save to Share (even CHM has an optional add-on for needs over $125,000, so this is not unique to Samaritan). We… Read more »

Christina
Christina
4 years ago
Reply to  Ted Pittenger

Apologies for the confusion and thank you for clarifying. Samaritan Ministries has a very good reputation indeed and I was surprised to read Erika’s comment, but glad to hear it actually concerned another organization (as much as this doesn’t do anything to alleviate the pain from the traumatic experience Erika’s family went through).

Derek
Derek
5 years ago

Hi Lisa, Love reading other people’s experience with Christian Healthcare Ministries. My wife and I joined in December 2014 because traditional healthcare was too expensive as I’m self-employed and my wife does PRN work and does not qualify for health insurance through her work. 4 months after joining CHM we found out we are expecting our second child in December 2015! Its exciting and can be stressful since we don’t have traditional health insurance. We will be going down this same path you did with your pregnancy. So far we’ve submitted all of our bills, gotten discounts where we could… Read more »

Christina
Christina
5 years ago
Reply to  Derek

Congratulations on expecting a second child! I am currently pregnant as well (first child) due September 2015 and going through the maternity sharing process with CHM. For me it’s not the first time I’ve had to rely on CHM for medical bills sharing – I had a minor surgery for a pre-existing condition back in May 2014 (CHM shared the total of $5,500+ after discounts within about 90 days), as well as a pregnancy that ended in miscarriage back in July/August 2014, for which CHM shared a total of $4,400+ after discounts within about the same time frame. In both… Read more »

Christina
Christina
4 years ago
Reply to  Derek

I wanted to add an update to my comment above as I have now gone through the whole maternity process with CHM. Our son was born on September 9, 2015 and unfortunately we had complications. I ended up requiring an emergency c-section and anesthesia was used as well (of course). Having a surgical delivery also prolonged my hospital stay, so even after significant discounts the total cost of my maternity incident (including post partum visits) came up to around $15,000. I am happy to report that CHM has now paid us this full amount to the last cent and we… Read more »

SaveMoreB
SaveMoreB
5 years ago

I am looking to do this. I pay almost 400 a month for private insurance. I have little restriction on who I can see/ where I can go. However, it is just too much. I dont want to go into all the reasons I dont want to go through ACA. I am self employed as well. In reference to self pay, you’d be suprised at what you can do to get your bill down without insurance. It does take patience. I was in the ER a while ago and needed transfusions and was placed in a room for overnight observation.… Read more »

ellen
ellen
5 years ago

do anything you can to avoid commercial insurance. I am now paying almost 10,000 dollars American per year to cover 4 healthy adults–2 children under 25. I could cry. I am going to try one of these healthshare policies.

Jen
Jen
4 years ago
Reply to  ellen

My Blue Cross health insurance with deductible is now at $24,500/ year for 4 healthy adults and has doubled since Obamacare. I am in the process of switching to Liberty. We are self employed. You know the system is broken when your premium is more than a typical mortgage… or the equivalent of several car payments.

Carol
Carol
4 years ago
Reply to  Jen

I understand all of your concerns with traditonal ACA plans the taxes the government has added on to them to pay for this plan is crushing the industry. I am a broker and am looking for alternatives to tell clients about, love all the comments and am always looking.

Kyle Henson
Kyle Henson
4 years ago
Reply to  Carol

Carol, Altrua HealthShare (one of the five HCSMs with an ACA exemption) now pays insurance brokers commissions. Check it out at my website if you want contracted. There is a lot of demand for this.

emily
emily
5 years ago

Hi Lisa, Thank you for this detailed and honest post. I am currently researching the 4 main healthcare sharing ministries (HCSMs) for my family. We are self employed and have to make a decision soon. We have a small group employer plan (because we own our own business) and have been informed our plan will no longer be grandfathered so we have to choose an ACA compliant plan. Our premiums were already quite high but the new ACA plan that we would be shifted into would cost 43% more! It’s insane how much we have already been paying but this… Read more »

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
5 years ago
Reply to  emily

Emily, I did not need pastor involvement for any of our maternity bills, but since we have not had any other needs, I am not sure about anything else. I think that you do need pastor involvement for non-maternity needs, but I am not sure. Our HCM welcomes questions, so I recommend calling them. Sorry I am not more helpful!

emily
emily
5 years ago
Reply to  Lisa Aberle

Hi Lisa,

Thank you for answering my question. I am still researching everything. I will call CHM with my questions. I like to hear from others who have actual experience too so I’ve been searching the internet for posts like this one. Thanks again!

Steve
Steve
4 years ago

I like the idea of this plan to get around the ACA and their extremely high ripoff premiums with huge deductibles for coverage that is marginal and includes things I can’t use such as maternity care (I’m a man!!!!!), or do not need (mental health care, chiropractic care, acupuncture, etc, etc). Someone needs to teach the government about biology!!!!! BUT I understand the goals of the ACA – it’s welfare for those who will not work, and it’s welfare for health care companies that you are now FORCED to pay. BUT I see a problem with this healthshare business. I… Read more »

Jen
Jen
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve

There are several share programs out there so do a little more digging. My BCBS bill for this year is now up to $24,500 for a healthy family of 4 adults (our girls are 18 and 21). Good friends of ours just switched to Medi-share (family of 5 was paying 28K to BCBS) and we are looking at Liberty. Both seem to function a bit more like traditional insurance in how bills are submitted and paid. It’s not a one size fits all industry so look for the plan that works best for you.

Jerry Vance
Jerry Vance
4 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Hi Jen,

I liked your testimonial it was direct. My wife and I are faced with ridiculous rising Health Care with UNITED. We are filling out application today for Liberty’s Premium plan. We thank you for explaining better.

Rebecca Tomasini
Rebecca Tomasini
3 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Can you share an update with how things are going with your Liberty and your friend’s Medi-share over the course of a year? We are considering Liberty right now. Thanks

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
4 years ago
Reply to  Steve

Steve, not all healthcare ministries have members send money directly to other members. Mine doesn’t, in fact, so if you’re still interested, you can try to find one that operates more like you’d prefer.

Ace
Ace
4 years ago

As a person said in one of the articles they spend as time with conventional insurance and claims as you would with Christian Health Ministries. The discount on billing is huge.The truth is providers only get about 40% to 60% of thier money from conventional insuinsurance providers. Even when providers give you a 25% discount they are still getting more from you than they are from some conventional insurance companies.

Billie
Billie
4 years ago

How did you find a health care provider? Where did you select your obgyn? I need to go to a doctor but don’t know where to start as my area doesn’t have a list of doctors who accept chm yet. Thanks in advance!

Lisa Aberle
Lisa Aberle
4 years ago
Reply to  Billie

Billie – I went to the same OB/Gyn that I’ve seen for a decade. Since I’m really a “self-pay” patient, I can go to any doctor I want to go to. CHM isn’t really accepted by doctors, you’re just reimbursed for eligible medical costs. Maybe doctors in your area don’t understand how CHM works? There is an explanation on the chministries.org website, I think, that should help you explain it to doctors. I hope that helps, but I’ll also try to answer any other questions, too.

HT Neighbors
HT Neighbors
4 years ago

We, too, use CHM! I love the entire concept and totally despise regular insurance! We have been members since the ACA first went into effect. We have only utilized it one time…when my wife got bit by a rattlesnake a couple of years ago!! Merely by being self-pay – the hospital bill was reduced from $38,000 to $18,000! They knocked off $20 Grand because they would not be dealing with any insurance company!! Due to the massive growth of CHM at the time, it took a little longer than the normal 60-90 days for payment. We paid several bills off… Read more »

Mary B
Mary B
4 years ago

About 10 years ago my adult, single, son who lives in another state was in a wreck. Many bones from jaw to ankle were broken, he had other injuries as well, and a tracheotomy allowed him to breathe. He was in a coma for 6 weeks, then more weeks before hospital discharge. Hospital was followed up with months of physical therapy. The total bill was was close to a million dollars. He had good insurance through his employer. Still, his responsibility was $300,000. How would he have fared under a health share plan? He could not negotiate, or fill out… Read more »

Larry Meredith
Larry Meredith
4 years ago
Reply to  Mary B

His NON SHARE COST would have been $500, then a total of one million per incident. He may have had good health insurance but what about what his auto insurance covered?? If you don’t know, you need to find out!

LRB
LRB
3 years ago
Reply to  Mary B

$300K does not meet the definition of ‘good’ insurance! Your son’s policy should have an annual out of pocket maximum around $10K with most policies. I read your post again and see that was some time ago. If he hasn’t, I would still talk to the plan administrator of the employer and investigate.

Hallie7
Hallie7
3 years ago
Reply to  LRB

Good points.

erikH
erikH
4 years ago

What about maintenance drugs? Are they covered under the health share as well? How does this work?

Rose
Rose
4 years ago

I was glad to find this article. I am a member of Christian Healthcare Ministries, and am having anxiety about a upcoming surgery and the deposits required by the hospital and doctor. I feel better knowing they pay; also I am OK with asking about discounts.

Anyone who is self pay will likely get a discount any way. I have found this out. You don’t always have to ask. So don’t be shy about it.

Hazel A.
Hazel A.
4 years ago

I was thrilled when I found out about Health Share and felt all my prayers were answered regarding honest, affordable healthcare coverage. Unfortunately, 2 months after signing up I had a terrible trip and fall accident and ended up in the ER with follow up dental visits. I did a face plant onto a solid concrete bench damaging, displacing and chipping my front teeth along with a host of other injuries. The hospital and dentist accepted the health share card, so I paid nothing out of pocket. I did pay out of pocket for other medical care and was promptly… Read more »

Patrick Carroll
Patrick Carroll
4 years ago
Reply to  Hazel A.

what health share are you with?

Rebecca Renner
Rebecca Renner
4 years ago

Does anyone know if we sign up for a health sharing plan and decide we hate it after a few months, can we drop it and get back onto the traditional plan offered at my spouses’ business as a qualifying event?

Denise
Denise
4 years ago
Reply to  Rebecca Renner

I have been looking into this option also but from what I can see is that it does not, since it is not considered “insurance”. Our thoughts are to try it for a year and then we can always opt back in during open enrollment next year.

Maggie Grace Rasor
Maggie Grace Rasor
4 years ago
Reply to  Rebecca Renner

I believe the Liberty Health Share has a 60 day trial and if you don’t like it you can drop it.

Hallie7
Hallie7
3 years ago
Reply to  Rebecca Renner

Read all fine print on all health share plans. You can cancel but may have to pay another month’s fee plus they will not refund your membership dues even if you cancel 10 days before the renewal year.

Scott
Scott
4 years ago

I do not understand your comment, I also want to say my wife and I use another alternative plan and we pay just over 400 a month and with Obama plan we were paying close to 1700.00 per month and with much higher deductible. These alternative cost sharing plans do work well bot do require the individuals to do more paperwork and phone calls. By the way the largest discount we received was an 80% from the hospital when my wife had an issue with her heart rate and blood pressure the bill went from over 35,000.00 to a little… Read more »

Ben
Ben
3 years ago

Thats seems like a lot to have to cover and then “hope” they reimburse you. And your still waiting for $4000? seems a bit of a gamble. I’m not opposed and I have looked into it too but just don’t want to sign up, get pregnant and go broke paying bills that we thought would have been covered and weren’t to the same amount we expected.
-Ben from UTAH

darcy
darcy
3 years ago

what’s the difference between ACA approved and paying the penalty? thanks.

Helen Vella
Helen Vella
3 years ago

I have Liberty and am trying to figure out how to use it. This article and all the comments have given me reassurance, I will now set up appointments. Thank you.

Hallie7
Hallie7
3 years ago
Reply to  Helen Vella

We have Liberty HealthShare and they are anything but Christian. Beware BEWARE everyone before you buy into it!! They have in their “Expenses Eligible” sharing list, that it covers Chiropractic Services. A customer service person just told me it is NOT covered and NEVER HAS BEEN COVERED. Warning: Do not trust a “Christian” organization that lies to your face. While they send lots of “feel good” organization long winded updates, they somehow think it is too much of a hassle to send a 2 month renewal notice which would give members enough time to cancel, upgrade, add family etc. Instead,… Read more »

Betty Lane
Betty Lane
3 years ago

There is so much that so many people who complain do NOT understand about Liberty Health Share and how to work with them. Before I signed up I contacted the business office of the medical group we use regularly. They said they WOULD bill a heath sharing ministry but in their experience the ministry would want them to write off most of the bill which they would not/could not do because of their contracts with insurance companies and, of course, the government. HOWEVER, they did say when we check in as patients to say WE ARE SELF PAY. I recently… Read more »

Jim
Jim
3 years ago

Is it possible to use Kaiser and will they give a self-pay discount if asked? We currently have Kaiser and are actually very happy with them, but do not wish to pay the new rate for 2018 ($1650 per MONTH for a healthy family of five before the maximum legally allowed copay and deductibles – and yes, that is the least expensive option available)

If we can join CHM and still use Kaiser we would do that. Does anyone do this (with Kaiser I mean)?

Amarante
Amarante
3 years ago
Reply to  Jim

Wouldn’t be possible because Kaiser is an HMO and you can’t use Kaiser services unless you are a member of Kaiser

Jo
Jo
3 years ago

Our 2018 quote with Anthem BC BS is $2226.04! We are 63 and 61 and pretty healthy. We haven’t reached our $6300 each deductible for the last 2 years so we’ve basically paid almost $60,000 in 2 years since we have to pay for every Dr visit, MRI etc. We are looking into going with CHM and saving $1800 a month. Thank you for all of your comments. We’re trusting God with our decision.

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