Health Insurance Alternative: Medi-Share

Posted by Mrs Money on April 23rd, 2010

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Creative Commons License photo credit: betsyweber

With all the buzz about health care reform, it’s easy to get wrapped in a discussion about health insurance. Health insurance is a great thing to have, and I’m thankful my employer offers decent health insurance. Ultimately, my husband and I would like to have a baby and have me be a stay at home mom. Unfortunately, my husband’s work offers individual health care plans, and as it stands today, I’d be denied coverage, not to mention the exorbitant cost. One day while listening to the radio, an ad came on for Medi Share, which is “Christian care medical sharing”. I was intrigued, and wanted to check it out because it sounded too good to be true.

How Medi Share works

Medi Share is not health insurance. It is a group of people that come together to help each other pay their medical costs.

From their website:

Each month, Medi-Share matches up member’s monthly share amounts with other member’s eligible medical needs and facilitates the direct sharing of those costs between them. It’s a modern-day version of what the church started back in the book of Acts.

From what I understand, each month you send a check to someone in need of money for medical care. There are stipulations, such as you must lead a Christian lifestyle, no engaging in sex outside of Christian marriage, have someone at a church vouch for your faith, and cannot use tobacco or any other types of drugs.

I think it’s a great idea, but I don’t think it’s something I’d feel comfortable with. What if you needed money, someone sent you a check, and it bounced? You’d be in trouble then. I like the idea knowing that an insurance company has my back when something happens and I need it.

Have you heard of Medi Share? Would you be comfortable with a health insurance alternative like this?

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22 Responses to “Health Insurance Alternative: Medi-Share”


  1. Little House says:

    It’s an interesting idea. However, I see some problems with it such as extensive medical care. For example, diseases such as cancer can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Who would be sending you checks for this amount? What if you required prolonged medical care and were the recipient of checks covering those costs, but couldn’t contribute to the group because you were too sick to work? There are quite a few other reasons I can see this being problematic, but these are just a few off the top of my head. (Not counting the stipulations for being part of the group!)

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    tom Reply:

    Those expenses could be covered by a life insurance policy with ABR riders that allow you to tap the death benefit in the event of critical, chronic or terminal illness in advance, and in conjunction with a medical savings account. The coverage might not be as comprehensive as a medical policy but the two premiums together plus the savings account would still be far less expensive. Medi-share would cover the small stuff and a policy like AGLA’s flex term with ABR’s would cover the major stuff. The medical savings account would help fill in the uncovered expenses.
    The article states that the check comes from another individual, thats incorrect, the check comes from medi-share and the members pay them.

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  2. LivingOurWay says:

    I’ve heard of these organizations but I thought it was more organized than that. What if someone who was supposed to send the check just didn’t send one at all? We are currently looking into private insurance and it is expensive and continuously goes up every year.

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  3. Joe Plemon says:

    I have heard of this too. Like you, I am intrigued, but like LivingOurWay, I thought it was more organized. I think it is worth checking into, but I would want a great major medical policy in addition to Medi Share.

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  4. Did I misunderstand or do you really send the check directly to the person? Call me cynical, but I would not be comfortable with doing that. Also, does the person get all of the money? Or just a cut? Does the rest go to support administrative expenses for the company who is handling the transfer of money? Although it sounds like a really nice idea, I would definitely look into it more. And then if I really wanted to do something like that, I would probably see if I could find out if people in my church were in a similar position and donate anonymously through the pastor to the family/person. Never heard of this idea, thanks for sharing it.

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  5. I think it could work if you structured it the right way, kind of like a cooperative association.

    Sounds like the group you (Mrs. Money) looked at is already limiting risk by excluding smokers and (hopefully) people with multiple sex partners. I think if you did the legwork, figured out the mission of the group (e.g., is it to provide basic care for low income folks – or is it to cover people who are not with big employers?), set a reasonable monthly payment amount, recruited a ton of people and then did due diligence of new members, it could work. Ideally, it would work a lot like a regular insurance company – but with a heart, kind of like a credit union for health insurance.

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  6. brite says:

    We used MediShare for several years when my husband was self-employed. We never received any reimbursement directly from members (although things may have changed) but directly from the company. At the time, they had a $250 deductible plan (per incident) so both our last babies (born at home) cost us $250. It was a great plan for us, because we are not “run to the doctor” for everything, so the fact that it didn’t cover routine visits was not a big deal for us. But covering my son’s homebirth and then a 3-day hospital stay a week later (which were considered two separate incidents) cost us $500 vs. $10,000. We have great coverage with my husband’s current job, but considered going back to a plan like this just because it’s much more in line with what we believe health care should look like. Covering only those who are proactive in their health care (not smoking, etc.) keeps rates down for everyone else. But our current policy is cheaper with better coverage so we’re sticking with it. It covers everything for just a $20 co-pay, but we are tempted to go to the doctor more than we need. Just my two cents…I’m all for plans like this!

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  7. Liz says:

    I don’t like the concept at all, but probably a large part is due to the fact that I’m not Christian.

    Proactively taking care of health is good, but ultimately, we as a society need to take care of each other, rather than exclude people who have different lifestyles that don’t match a narrow belief system.

    [Reply]

    erik Reply:

    “… but ultimately, we as a society need to take care of each other, rather than exclude people who have different lifestyles that don’t match a narrow belief system…”

    hi Liz, your point would be reasonable if this were on a volunteer basis, the DVM has a narrow belief system too, they take away the privilege of driving if you don’t meet their narrow testing requirements. and insurance as a business and in trying to reward those who do good also should have the option of setting requirements. you’re a bright lady and you can think of many other instances where “narrow requirements” must be met in order to join and be given services/privileges/benefits.

    Erik Diaz

    .

    [Reply]

    Ken Reply:

    Hi Erik,

    I understand what you are saying but the DMV wouldn’t be allowed to get away with a “narrow requirement” that the customer can’t be Islamic!!

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    Stephen We ber Reply:

    I’m with Erik on this one.

    Liz, regarding your comment on a “narrow belief system”, permit me to state that everything is “relative”. The “narrowness” of the one belief system that is both Biblically regarded and scientifically proven to be the Truth (Christianity) is only due to the fact that the entire “pool” of belief systems has grown exponentially since the days of the Garden, making Christianity occupy a smaller “percentage” of all of them.

    I cringe at the fact, in any other area of life than “belief systems”, truth is regarded as “absolute”. It doesn’t matter whether we’re talking about how many gallons of fuel are in one’s tank, or how many dollars are in one’s bank account–there’s “absolute truth”. BUT… when it comes to religion, it’s “You have your ‘truth’, I have mine.”

    Do you believe that it’s a coincidence that, back when our Founding Fathers dedicated this nation to Almighty God (saying [paraphrased] “May God help us if we should ever depart from His ways”), it was prospering like crazy, but, ever since 1963, when the nation officially left God out of the picture, it’s been declining to the pathetic condition that it is now? If all the belief system out were “the Truth”, than the dispersion of people’s faith across all of them, and the resulting principles and lifestyles people followed, would have kept the U.S. the great nation it’s always been.

    My conclusion, “The devil is a liar”.

    [Reply]

  8. Tara says:

    I think the idea is great. However, I’m not sure it works for a person when they have a true medical emergency or develops a chronic condition that requires long term care. For instance, my husband at the age of 30 was diagnosed with cancer that had already metastasized. He found out when he developed severe chest pain and was rushed to the hospital by EMS. He had multiple surgeries, stopped breathing, was placed on a ventilator, and spent 2 months unconscious in the ICU. Our medical bills WITH traditional insurance were still extremely high (even though the insurance covered MILLIONS) Thankfully, he survived and is doing well, but has residual health problems from all that occur. He requires frequent doctors visits and multiple medications. I can’t imagine this company would be able to sufficiently provide for such HUGE medical problems. Then, if he had not been covered traditionally, he would have been ineligible for insurance due to pre-existing conditions when this company kicked him out of the program because he was no longer a “healthy” individual. You never know what emergencies will pop up and I feel like I would rather have a safety net. Also, I read that this company has a disclaimer that ULTIMATELY the medical expenses are the individuals. Ummm…doesn’t sound like a good idea when you read the fine print.

    [Reply]

    Stephen Weber Reply:

    Tara,

    Case in point. People need to take much more responsibility for themselves, health wise. If there are diets that keep people virtually disease-free (like not even having so much as a cold in over 30 years), than people need to be told about them, and (on one side) people need to be made aware of them, and held accountable. On the other side, access to pure, living foods (like organic, “NON-GMO”), needs to be increased in order to make them much more accessible to those who have much lower incomes. THESE are the areas that desperately need reform.

    Also, we need a DRASTIC REDUCTION of “orthodox” medical influence, which, from my standpoint, is running rampant, because it is backed by billions and billions of dollars that are being used to “buy out” all of the regulatory agencies and politicians, so that they can get away with whatever they please (including keeping the American public blind to alternatives that help them stay out of the “good doctor’s” office). Literally BILLIONS are being made on the long term “care” of diseases that can literally be cured with lifestyle changes. “Somebody” (namely, the medical bureaucracies) will have to lose money in order for overall health to improve in this country.

    Your husband’s cancer could have been effectively and PERMANENTLY cured by a clinic in Tijuana, Mexico, that costs $10,000 FOR TWO WEEKS (not for TWO DAYS). But, it’s illegal in the U.S. for a clinic to treat cancer with heavy consumption of fresh, organic vegetable juices. Why, because juicing can’t be “patented” (controlled) the way drugs can.

    The RIGHT reform would literally crush the multi-billion dollar nest egg that the orthodox medical industry is using some of its billions to protect.

    There need to be enough people to say “We’re not patronizing this garbage anymore”. THEN, and only then, will we have true reform that will bring healthcare costs (which now ought to be called “disease”care costs) back to reasonable levels.

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  9. Paul says:

    Well, to me they are no different than insurance companies. I answered their questionaire and marked that I had been treated for diabetes and with in moments I was told that I was not eligible. Actually, the insurance companies are still willing to offer me coverage, but this so call Biblically based option left me out in the cold. Something to think about.

    [Reply]

    tom Reply:

    Yes but here you knew up front, BEFORE you paid in premiums for years and years, how many stories have you read of insurance companies doing what is in essence post claims underwriting by denying legit claims after a person gets sick. All the while the collected the premiums and collected interest on them.

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    Stephen Weber Reply:

    That’s right. Now, add to that the fact that diabetes is “curable” via alternative methods (the kinds that are safe, effective, and can cost the medical establishment millions in lost profits, should enough people learn about them). Live, freshly extracted juices and other forms of detoxing can heal most forms of diabetes. There’s an exciting new area of research called “epigenetics”, which examines how we can alter the messages (instructions) that our genes give off in telling our cells how to behave. Healthy cells mean healthy tissue. Healthy tissue means healthy organs. I’m betting that the medical establishments won’t be funding this kind of research any time soon, since a person being cured of chronic diabetes (or even cancer) is a person who is no longer a candidate for insulin or “patented” blood sugar medication–in other words, they’re no longer a “gravy train”, if you will.

    Check into the backgrounds of Max Gerson and John Beard.

    Best of luck!
    Steve

    [Reply]

  10. mag says:

    Don’t get your hopes up on this organization. You will have the same runarounds and delays as an insurance company. Over the years I have paid in thousands of dollars without one claim. The first claim I made is still in appeal for an issue that fit every guideline. If you use them do not tell any medical provider about this great organization that you are a member of because when Medishare behaves in an unbiblical manner it gives your testimony and Christianity yet another black eye to display to a lost world. I am not nearly as sad about Medishare’s not paying our medical bills as I am that my trust in them, based on what they advertise to be, was as misplaced as a trust in a faith healer that doesn’t practice in a children’s cancer hospital.

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  11. Diane says:

    Years ago, we were part of a group such as this and had no problems. I became pregnant with our daughter, and payments came in toward those bills directly from members. It was hard to convince the financial officer at the obstetrician’s about this…she was doubtful. However, she couldn’t say anything when the office was paid! We also helped others by sending our monthly payment in a card as others did to us, with encouragement and mention of their prayers. So very thankful to the Lord for it at that time. It really is a wonderful thing for the church to care for the brethren…the Lord gives His people who know us to care for us in our time of need. Organizations don’t know us nor we them so all we can go by a positive word about them or through a contact to make our judgment of whether they are reputable.

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  12. Stephanie says:

    I believe there is some misunderstanding, as you do not send the check directly to the person. The money is pulled from your monthly premiums. This is very much like an insurance policy without the overhead and crooks. (I work in insurance defense, I know.) For those who have a problem with the stipulations, then the program is not for you. It’s no different than joining a club or organization, if you don’t believe in what they stand for, you don’t join. My husband and I are looking into this now. I don’t know if it is right for our family or not, but completely respect what they are trying to do.

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  13. ken lyn says:

    To be clear, Medi-share is not an insurance program. Medi-share operates as a non-profit group and while members pay into a group fund each month, the money is never Medi-share’s money. Furthermore, Medi-share is not required to pay any bill, nor keep cash reserves on hand. I found 3 articles on medi-share here http://www.newsonhealthcare.com/the-ins-and-outs-of-medi-share/ I hope this helps as well.

    [Reply]


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