Comparing Healthshare Ministries - picture of stethoscope heart and paperwork

Comparing 4 Healthcare Sharing Ministries

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Well, health insurance has become very interesting over the last few months, hasn’t it?

Maybe you live in an area where you have just one insurance option. Worse, maybe all of the insurance carriers pulled out of your area, leaving you with no options on the Obamacare exchanges. Perhaps you saw a significant increase in your premiums and wondered what the heck you were going to do next. We know all too well the panic that sets in once you realize your health insurance costs are no longer sustainable.

Then, the election happened.

While significant changes to the Affordable Care Act seem likely, the fact is that changes to this law are going to take time. The president-elect and new congress can’t waltz into Washington, D.C. on January 20th and enact a new system on “Day 1.” Like it or not, you’re stuck with Obamacare at least several months, and maybe years. That leaves you with some difficult decisions to make in the meantime.

A Quick Background on Our Situation

As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, we’re self-employed and receive no subsidies due to our income. Rather than be out-of-pocket for over $23,000 before insurance kicks in, we decided to look for other options. Eventually, we found healthcare sharing ministries and have been using them for a few years now.

During our search, we considered several different healthcare sharing ministries. Although other options were slightly cheaper, we ended up going with Liberty HealthShare because it felt the most familiar and was the best fit for our particular situation. I realize that Liberty may not work for everybody, so I’ve detailed some of the different healthcare sharing ministries available below. (FYI, we do receive a small finder’s fee if you join Liberty HealthShare by clicking through our links.)

4 Popular Healthcare Sharing Ministries

Liberty HealthShare

We’ve been members at Liberty HealthShare for about 2 years now. So far, we are absolutely thrilled with the program we’ve chosen. When compared to Obamacare, we’ve saved thousands of dollars a year in just premiums alone. We’ve also had absolutely no issues with them paying our medical bills, so we really have no complaints.

Liberty HealthShare offers three different sharing levels for members and is available in 49 of 50 states (with Pennsylvania being the exception). Monthly “sharing” contributions range from just over $100 to about $450 per month. Out-of-pocket costs depend on the number of people being covered, and range from $500-$1,500 per year. Bills can be sent to Liberty automatically, and they will help youhttp://www.getlibertyhealth.com/clubthrifty negotiate for lower costs and discounts.

One of our favorite features of Liberty was that you don’t have to pay your shared amount directly to other members. Instead, you send your money to Liberty, and they distribute it for you. Another important factor was that Liberty HealthShare also allows non-evangelical faiths to participate. (Some healthcare sharing ministries do not.) Finally, with Liberty, their are no “preferred” networks – which means we can use it with a provider of our choosing.

You can read our entire review of Liberty HealthShare here.

Medi-Share

Medi-Share is one of the most popular healthcare sharing ministries, and is definitely one we considered. As with all four programs, members at Medi-Share are exempt from paying the Obamacare tax penalty. Again, the sharing payments are sent to Medi-Share rather than individual members, and they’ll help negotiate your bills for you. Monthly sharing amounts range from just $64 to $627. They also offer 6 levels of out-of-pocket responsibilities, ranging from $1,250 to $10,000 annually.

There were a few things that concerned us about Medi-Share, starting with the fact that Medi-Share can not be used in every network. Additionally, they only allow evangelical Christians to join, which left us out. Finally, they aren’t available in every state, so make sure you’re eligible before becoming too attached to them.

Read our full Medi-Share review here.

Christian Healthcare Ministries

Before we ultimately chose Liberty, Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM) was definitely in the running. Like with Liberty, CHM allows non-evangelical faiths to partake in their program. They’re not constrained by narrow networks, provide automated monthly sharing payments, and are available in all 50 states. Monthly sharing costs range from about $90 to about $450, and they offer 3 different sharing levels with personal responsibilities ranging from $500-$5,000 annually.

What we didn’t like was that Christian Healthcare Ministries does not help you negotiate your bills with medical providers. It’s entirely up to you to negotiate and obtain discounts. Also, they do not make payments to your providers for you. After submitting your medical bills to CHM, you will be personally reimbursed for those costs. It’s then your responsibility to ensure payment is submitted to your provider. Although this takes a few extra steps, it still beats paying thousands more for Obamacare.

I know several people who are members at CHM and really like it. You can check out their website for more details.

Samaritan Ministries

The final healthcare sharing ministry we considered was Samaritan Ministries. Monthly sharing expenses range from $180 to $405, and they are available in all 50 states. Members also have a shared responsibility of $300 per person covered, or $900 per family. Like other healthcare sharing ministries, Samaritan members are shielded from paying the Obamacare penalty.

For us, Samaritan presented too many downsides. To become a member at Samaritan, you need to practice an evangelical faith. Furthermore, they do not handle negotiating with providers and send reimbursements directly to you rather than the provider. Finally, members actually make their sharing contributions directly to other members. So, one month, I may write my $405 sharing contribution to Joe Smith. The next month, I send it directly to Susie Sanders. That was a bit foreign to us and seemed like an unnecessary step. With that said, Samaritan still made a better choice for us than the alternative.

You can learn more about Samaritan by viewing their website here.

Final Thoughts

If you’re stuck like we were, any of these programs could be a great option for you. Again, I can only speak from our experience with Liberty HealthShare, but we have been very satisfied. We’ve had absolutely no issues with reimbursements and have saved thousands by switching to a sharing ministry instead of using the insurance model. In fact, we’ll probably stick with Liberty even after the healthcare laws are changed.

What are your thoughts on healthcare sharing ministries? Have you used any of these? Let us know below!

 

<<Learn More About Liberty Healthshare Here>>

<< Click Here for More Information on Medi-Share >>

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70 Comments

  1. It’ll definitely take time to develop a detailed plan for “replacement” and the earliest we’ll see changes to our plans will be January 2018. That said, I’m sure the exchanges will look a lot different, if they are even still around, with subsidies and coverage rolled back. Just my opinion, who knows.

  2. Obamacare is prohibitively expensive for my family too, so we have been using a short term health insurance policy through United called Golden Rule. Thanks for writing about the health shares, I am pinning this to save it…

    1. Hey Carrie! Glad you found a temporary solution. It will be interesting what happens to healthcare in the next year or two. Something has to give.

    2. I too had Golden Rule short term, 2 months at a time, which is all I could get in my state. ACA is off the charts unaffordable. After reading the terms I saw even tho I pay for 60 days up front the first 6 days of each renewal are not covered for illness due to assumed pre-existing illness. Also if you are seen for any condition THEY FEEL ‘any prudent’ person would have seen a doctor for during a 6-18 month period prior to coverage, it’s pre-existing so not covered. If something happens during a coverage period they can choose not to renew you or exempt condition from future coverage deeming it pre-existing. The premium is $500 two months with a $2500 deductible for each 2 month policy. Won’t cover preventative visits. If a person is healthy, this is not coverage since historically speaking you will never have a covered costs exceeding $2500. If you aren’t healthy, they won’t take you. It fills in the cracks for just what it’s called, short term and all the while you continue to thank God for continued good health until you find an affordable full term policy.

  3. Thanks for writing about these options. While we’ve used exchange policies in the past, obviously we’ll need to make some hard decisions in the future as ACA changes come through. And as non-evangelicals, it’s good to know where we should start and where we probably don’t need to bother looking.

  4. As a self-employed nurse who also finds her family’s Obamacare insurance outrageously expensive, I was happy to read about your experiences with Liberty HealthShare. I’ve researched them and the others you mentioned as possible alternatives for us, but it takes quite a leap of faith (pun intended!) to switch from the mainstream health insurance that USED to serve us so well to an unknown. It’s sadly ironic that our pre-ACA plan that was a catastrophic plan with a high deductible was scorned as “junk” yet has been replaced by an even more expensive, higher deductible plan. I’ve followed Obamacare closely over the last few years and will follow Trumpcare just as closely. All I know for sure is that my family and all healthcare consumers need to be as informed as possible, practice healthy living, and stay out of our crazy system as much as possible. Thanks for what you do to keep people informed!

    1. TIMOTHY ASPENLEITER says:

      Well said Anne. I agree with your thoughts 100%.

  5. Very helpful and timely information. I wonder if more groups like this will form in the wake of the election. We have health care through an employer for now, but someday this may be a great option for us.

  6. There’s actually a 5th one that you might as well add to compare. Like Liberty, it doesn’t have a specific religious requirement, but it does have some blatant language about same sex couples that many people wouldn’t agree with.

    http://altruahealthshare.org/

  7. Thank you for this post (and your other posts on Liberty). It’s helping me get a handle on my options.

    1. Please please do not go with liberty. At first our experience was fantastic! They paid ordinary Dr visits and well visits promptly, but then I needed surgery. I had surgery last May and my bill is still not paid. We have been sent to collections and on the 18th the bill is due or our outstanding credit takes a hit. As of today, the 15th, Liberty still has not issued a check! If your provider won’t negotiate then Liberty hangs onto the bill and waits for it to go to collections, knowing the collector will negotiate. Then even though they say payment is expediated it’s not. Monday will be 45 days since our bill was sent to collections and liberty hasn’t even written a check yet. Please please avoid this scam! The most maddening part is how many times they deliberately lied to us. Once even involved the rep from liberty getting on a three way call with our provider and my husband promising them a check in ten days. That was in November and it’s now March. That was nothing but a show to get us off the phone and buy time from our Provider. They don’t hold to Christian values of honor and integrity at all. If you do a YELP search you will find this is a very common problem.with Liberty. I have a close friend who choose Liberty the same time we did and she is currently having the same issue. She too was told on a three way call the bill would be paid in ten days. They do not care about their members only their bottom line!

  8. I just learned about Liberty Direct recently and my spouse and I are also self-employed with 3 children. My one concern is the 1 million per incident. I am wondering if you found any kind of additional policy or insurance that could be added from an outside source if a family member had a serious injury that would go over that 1 million limit.
    Thanks!

    1. Hey Maggie,

      Honestly, we haven’t looked for additional coverage over the $1 million per incident. Our feeling is that hitting that $1 million cap is pretty unlikely. If we are going to reach it, we just need to make it until the next open enrollment period to jump on Obamacare – at least for now.

    2. I’m considering liberty and an Aflac plan to fill in the gaps.

      1. Hi guys – we’re doing similar research right now. I recently left my job which provided my family of 4 health insurance to join my husband in his company. Given that, we’re using my Cobra now because the marketplace options are just as painful for us since we don’t qualify for subsidies. I spoke with Liberty yesterday and it’s seeming like it could be the right option but I’m also a little hung up on the “what ifs” of major health issues. Just curious how you’re faring a few more years in – are you still liking this? Any issues? And @Clay – did you go with the Aflac option as well?

        Thanks!

        1. Yes, we are still with Liberty and still really like it. We’ve never experienced any real problems – certainly no more than what you’d get through an insurance company. They have always paid their share, and we’re personally very happy with them. 😀

  9. Tara Esposito says:

    We are seriously considering changing to Liberty since our premiums jumped 80%! We are semi-retired and will not go back to work full time because of our healthcare system. We have planned and saved too hard to be in this position at our age. Liberty seems like a really good fit as they have the same philosophy that we live by – live a healthy life and don’t spend medical dollars foolishly. That being said, do you see ANY downside to the health share system? It just seems too good to be true so I’m a little scared! Thanks for all the info on your site, it’s been invaluable to me.

    1. Yes, there are some downsides. 1) There is a $1 million cap per incident. 2) They do not cover preexisting conditions. 3) It requires a little more work and diligence on your part, but not much. 4) It’s not completely clear whether premiums are deductible if you own your own business.

      With that said, we didn’t feel like we had any other choice… and we’ve been happy so far. Everything has worked as expected – we’ve hit our sharing amount for the year and they have covered as promised. On another note, we were uncomfortable about joining at first too. However, most of these healthsharing ministries aren’t new. They’ve been around loooong before Obamacare. They simply didn’t get much thought before. So, it isn’t like they are a fly-by-night company, if that makes you feel better. And as it stands right now, worst case scenario is that you just have to make it until open enrollment again to switch to O-care.

      If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to read our complete Liberty HealthShare Review here. It talks about all the benefits and drawbacks of the program. Hope that helps!!!

      1. LibertyHealth actually does cover pre-existing conditions, but they are tapered in. After 3-years, fully covered.

        I’ve had them and our son had medical expenses this year and all were covered as expected minus the deductible which is very reasonable.

      2. JEN SMITH says:

        I just called Liberty Share: They informed me that they are not allowed to offer their services in Pennsylvania.
        You may have to update your coverage extending in all 50 States with this exception

  10. Thanks for the post. I was wondering do these healthshares require that you attend a church service regularly or be a part of a church? There are many who’re Christian but aren’t part of a church, such as myself so I was wondering about that. Thank you.

    1. Hey Daniel,

      It depends on the program. Some of them require a note from your pastor. Liberty Healthshare, the one we joined, requires that you sign a statement of belief.

  11. Thank you, this is a super helpful article. My pet peeve with Obamacare is two of my providers have closed in Illinois, causing a change in our healthcare and then a change in our provider network. urg!! My question is, do they cover dental with any of these healthcare sites? I do have a fairly reasonable dental coverage through Obamacare, so that would probably hold me back, if not. Thanks for any info you can share!

    1. Hi K,
      Thanks for reading, and I’m glad you found the piece helpful! I know that Liberty HealthShare does not provide sharing for vision or dental. That being said, we’re literally saving thousands a year by avoiding Obamacare premiums. So, you can certainly use that savings to pick up a private dental or vision plan and probably still save.

      Personally, we do not carry vision insurance. For dental, we pay like $700 a year for our family of four through our dentist’s annual in-house plan. That includes 2 cleanings, exams, x-rays, and other preventative care. Obviously, that’s not the best choice for everybody, but it works for us. If you think healthcare sharing ministries are an option, I’d look into something like that for dental and vision.

      I hope that helps and best of luck!

  12. Seems like liberty is best option but its not available in my state – PA. I am not able to request information in PA. Is that true? please confirm.

    1. Unfortunately, that is true. At this time, Liberty is available in all states except for Pennsylvania.

      1. Hello, is Liberty now available in the state of Pennsylvania?
        Thanks so much for your help!

  13. Thank you for the information on Liberty. I have been looking at the healthshare ministries for a few months now, off and on, but it is getting down to crunch time, as my last day of work is July 31st. I am calling it quits after 30 years in law enforcement. Times are much different today and getting out while I am fairly young and healthy is, I feel, the right choice. However, in doing so, I lose my very good health insurance, which has been a blessing my entire career. It is very difficult for me to take that leap of faith and go to something else, which is not considered “health insurance”, but when considering the options, ObamaCare, or paying for my present insurance policy myself, it appears the best option by far. I would not qualify for subsidies through OC, and since my son is still in college (already paid for), to keep my current family policy would set us back about $1,900.00 per month! Not doable.

    I was leaning toward Liberty, but then a friend mentioned Medishare. However, when I checked them out, I saw where Illinois, which is where I currently reside, for a little while longer anyway, is a problem for them to operate do to the Insurance Companies. Oklahoma is another problem state for them. Altrua was another one recommended to us, but i just didn’t care for many of their rules and the way it was run. I think Liberty is where we will end up.

    So, after all that, I want to ask you about pre-existing conditions. Someone above mentioned they were able to get covered after 3 years with Liberty. My son, who has had an unknown problem with his knee for many years, will be on our plan regardless. I spoke with a Liberty representative about this and she advised the following, “For the first year of his membership, we would NOT share into anything stemming from his pre-x illness/injury, including PT. In the second and third years of membership,however, we would share up to $50,000 collectively for treatment of that pre-x condition. Just thought I would let you and your readers know about this. It seems fair to me.

    Anyway, about the only thing holding me back is fear of the unknown, or change. I think about the what ifs. What if we have a serious incident where one, or all of us, need to go to the hospital, where ever and when ever that may be, and the hospital does not want to accept Liberty? What if the hospital bill reaches into the hundred of thousands of dollars? We would be in a very bad situation, indeed. Probably bankrupt. Greg, tell me your thoughts, please.

    Regards,
    Bill

    1. Hey Bill,

      First, thanks for reaching out and for reading the piece. I’m glad it was helpful.

      As far as pre-existing conditions go, I’d have to refer you to Liberty’s reps – although, according to their FAQ page, that is also how I understand their rules for pre-existing conditions. We also metion that in our full review here.

      When it comes to acceptance of Liberty, it’s good to remember that it isn’t insurance. There are no networks, preferred providers, etc. You can use it at any hospital or office. The hospital may not want to bill Liberty directly, but you can always send the bills to Liberty yourself.

      That said, I know it can be scary to leave the “regular” insurance market. We’ve been there ourselves. It’s all most of us have ever known. I can only speak to our experience, and we have had absolutely no problem with payment. You may want to take a closer look at Liberty’s payment terms before enrolling.

      I hope that helps! Best of luck and feel free to comment back or email me directly with any questions. Congrats on your retirement and thank you for your service in law enforcement!

  14. Liberty Healthshare has a questionable history with the BBB. The complaints are rebutted, but should not be ignored. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. I didn’t think to check the BBB beforehand, and got duped by Liberty. They refused to reimburse me for an urgent care issue which cost me about $700. I did everything required. Liberty will tell you upfront that there is no guarantee that your medical expenses will be paid/reimbursed. That gives them an out when they simply don’t want to honor claims.

    1. In all honesty, $700 for us would be a blessing. We would pay that anyway, since our deductible on Anthem (which we will be losing at the end of this year since they are closing our market here) is $6500 per person. In other words, we would pay that anyway. As Christian business owners we are frustrated with the high price of insurance as all of our finances go into a pot to pay for everyone else’s lifestyle choices. At least this way we would share expenses with those that are making an attempt to limit their health issues to those things they really cannot control. We do realize that we live in a fallen world and that there are a certain number of things that cannot be controlled and the idea of sharing with others as they walk through some terrible times in regards to health would be considered a blessing. I appreciate this review and I think it’s helpful as we make some decisions moving forward so we thank you for your work here.

      1. It’s not really about the dollar amount. Of course $700 isn’t going to bankrupt anyone. It’s about the reliability and professional management of the sharing ministry overall. This time it was $700. Next time it could be $70,000. The process is the same in either case and we all want to feel secure that we will be covered if the worst were to happen to us or a family member. If there are tons of complaints on BBB about not getting reimbursed without a huge runaround, we all need to be realistic about that.

        1. There actually aren’t tons of complaints with the BBB. There are about 15, and I’ve read all of them. The majority seem to be billing errors and issues that Liberty has ultimately fixed. Several others are instances where the consumer didn’t understand how healthsharing works.

          1. Hi Holly, can you provide more detail as to why Liberty denied you claim – reason for denial? Are you still with Liberty? Any update on your view of them now? Thanks for any insight.

          2. Hey Todd, we’ve never had a denial with Liberty. We’ve had multiple procedures with no problems thus far.

    2. According to the BBB, there are indeed common-theme complaints against Liberty Health Share. I won’t minimize the grievances of others. One person may feel that $700 is burdensome, whereas another may not. It’s a personal issue. In theory, the health share concept sounds like a blessing. However; if the claims of compliant customers are handled discriminately, resulting in nonpayment, the customer ends up paying the health share fees AND their medical bills. Some rules serve to create obstacles. Liberty seems not to provide reasons for denying claims unless the customer complains. That’s certainly a cause for concern. Health share agencies are businesses for profit. The “Christian” claim may only be a marketing ploy to appeal to a certain group, implying trustworthiness. Even so, such agencies warrant investigation and consideration.

      1. It isn’t my job to stand up for any company or minimize anybody’s situation. However, it is misleading to claim that there is a theme of non-payment and denial of claims. If you actually read the BBB complaints, of which there are only like 15 or 16, you’ll see that some of them are billing errors and some are situations in which the user doesn’t understand how medical cost sharing works. In each situation, Liberty has responded with how they are handling it. That doesn’t seem too out of line to me. However, I’ll let each person judge for themselves.

        1. I agree with you, Greg, and particularly your point about the out of pocket deductible one would have in the same situation with today’s regular insurance being way higher than the $700 — you’d spend that anyway. Of course, the idea of healthcare vs insurance is a little scary and without guarantees but for many of us who are self employed it is the only affordable or economically sensible option any more. I did a lot of research and talked directly to people I knew who had gone with Liberty and had filed claims. Their experiences were overwhelmingly positive – with far less denials and red tape than they had experienced with traditional insurance in the past. It’s not the perfect scenario (neither is insurance!) , but it is certainly a good alternative for many of us who would otherwise have no coverage because we don’t qualify for subsidies and can’t afford the astronomical increases in our health insurance premiums. Thank you for this article and the information. It provides great info for those searching other options.

          1. Thanks for reading Sherri! As somebody who is self-employed, healthcare sharing ministries were really the only option that made sense for us. While it’s not insurance, it does help us plan for unforseen medical costs. It’s not a perfect scenario, but we felt it was the best option available to us… and we still do.

  15. Thanks for your helpful article! I am in the same boat with the rest of you. My grandfathered non-ACA Humana PPO went away earlier this year and I have been on a United Healthcare short term PPO since then.

    Now it’s open enrollment time and my choices are abysmal. There are no PPOs offered at all anymore in the individual market in Texas. The least expensive Blue Cross HMO is $798 a month for just myself (age 55) with a $7,500 deductible. I am healthy, rarely go to a doctor, and literally have never met my deductible in my life. Total ripoff!

    I’m considering Medi-Share or Liberty out of desperation but I’m concerned about the risks of not having real major medical for the first time in my life. I have been combing the internet for reviews/complaints. Liberty sounds good but it has a lot of complaints, unfortunately. The main thread running through most of the complaints seems to be that they originally committed to paying bills within 30 days but now it has been revised to 60 “BUSINESS” days, which is really about 3 months.

    Many people who went to providers who were willing to direct-bill Liberty are now being chased by angry doctors or bill collectors and they are being threatened with being reported to the credit bureaus. Those who laid out the money and paid the provider themselves while waiting for Liberty to reimburse them are also struggling, especially if they put the charges on their credit card and are now carrying a large balance and paying interest every month.

    God forbid if you were hit with a serious disease/injury and you had a very costly hospitalization, it could bankrupt a person if they had to lay out tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars while waiting to get reimbursement. I can’t even imagine the stress that would cause, nervously waiting to see if your charges will be shared, especially if you are sick and on your own. Also, if you’re seriously ill and on your own, you would have to act as bookkeeper, collecting and keeping track of all the bills (hospitals, myriad doctors, x-rays, lab tests, etc.) and submit it all to Liberty and stay on top of what you’ve laid out and what you have been reimbursed (or not). What if you are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated?

    My other concern is that since there is no official provider network with Liberty, the nice private hospital in your city may not even be willing to admit you without an insurance card from a company on their accepted insurance list. They would probably patch you up (if it is an emergency situation) and then send you in an ambulance to the not-so-nice hospital in your city where the uninsured and medicaid patients are sent. This worries me a lot. The whole reason I pay for insurance is that if something horrible were to befall me, I want to be able to go to a top tier hospital like Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins, Dana-Farber, Sloan Kettering — all of which are in-network for Medi-Share/PHCS.

    Sorry to belabor the point but I learned something really important yesterday. The PHCS network is used by tons of different insurers but it is different for every insurance company that uses it. In other words, if you just went to the PHCS.org website and did a search there, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those are your in-network providers with Medi-Share. If you call a hospital or doctor and they say yes, we take PHCS, that still doesn’t mean it’s in network for Medi-Share.

    You have to go to the Medi-Share website and click on the provider link from there to get to the Medi-Share version of the PHCS provider lookup. It will bring you to the PHCS website but you will see the “Christian Care Ministry” logo (Medi-Share) in the right corner, which tells you that your lookup will be accurate and reliable. The woman I spoke with at Medi-Share didn’t even know or understand this. She kept insisting that I could go to any doctor or hospital on the PHCS network, but I kept trying to tell her that the lookup results are different when I search from the PHCS site versus using the link from the Medi-Share site. As an example, MD Anderson Cancer Hospital in Houston (the #1 rated cancer hospital in the country) is on the PHCS network, but it does NOT appear when you search for it from the link on the Medi-Share site. I even called PHCS directly and they confirmed that while MD Anderson Hospital is in the PHCS network, it is excluded from Medi-Share. If you go to an out-of-network provider you get hit with a 20% penalty and you have to pay the difference between their charges and the usual and customary. Here is the link to the correct provider lookup for Medi-Share:

    https://mychristiancare.org/medi-share/what-is-medishare/how-medi-share-works/find-a-provider/

    After all my obsessive searching and reading online for the past couple of months, I think Medi-Share is a better fit for me than Liberty. It has far fewer user complaints online, it has a well-established PHCS nationwide direct-bill provider network, you don’t have to become a bookkeeper and you don’t have to lay out your own money and wait to get reimbursed. I also like that it has a 24/7 telemedicine feature included free, so you can talk to a doctor anytime, get prescriptions called in, etc. Lastly, I like that with Medi-Share there are no annual or liftetime caps. With Liberty there is $1,000,000 cap per incident.

    The negatives for Medi-Share as compared to Liberty, for me, are the following: (1.) The Medi-Share statement of faith is a bit more heavy duty than I am totally comfortable signing. Liberty’s statement is much more in line with my comfort level. (2.) On Medi-Share, if you go to an out-of-network provider, there’s a significant penalty. Since Liberty doesn’t have a network, there are no penalties. (3.) The deductible (Annual Household Portion) with Medi-Share is considerably higher than with Liberty. (4.) With Medi-Share there is no coverage for wellness visits and whatever you pay out of pocket for those will not even go toward your deductive (Annual Household Portion). Medi-Share is truly an old fashioned catastrophic care policy. With Liberty, it is a bit more similar to Obamacare in that you get 1 covered annual wellness visit, 1 pap smear, 1 colonoscopy, 1 mammogram.

    Bottom line: There is no perfect solution anymore, thanks to Obamacare, so we will all have to accept compromises and make the best choice for our own situations. It’s never going to be like it used to be so we had better just commit to doing everything within our power to stay healthy. Sorry for the super long post. Good luck everyone!

    1. I hope you find the perfect fit. I had a lot of the same concerns as you when we joined Liberty three years ago. I ultimately decided that I could not, in good conscience, pay the outrageous ACA plan prices and still saddle my family with a 13K or 14K deductible. So far Liberty has worked well. I have had to follow up on several bills, but it has been seamless other than that.

    2. Great info – thank you!

  16. Oops, one correction in my super long post above. I meant to type PHCS.com (not PHCS.org). Sorry!

  17. Given how much some of us are being hosed by the insurance companies has anyone considered that for some getting both Liberty and Medi-share simultaneously will still most likely be cheaper than a regular insurance plan you could also throw in a direct primary care plan as well. Has anyone done such math??

    1. That’s a good point, Rich. Math-wise, it would still be way cheaper for me even if I had both plans, compared to what my ACA premium would be. I don’t feel that I need that but for some who are concerned and who may go to the doctor more frequently, that might be a little added safety net.

  18. Our family has been part of a medical Sharing Ministry for 15 years. It has really worked for us. All our bills were paid and the premiums (called shares) was way, way lower than what the average insurance premium is. I cannot say enough good things about it.

    1. Doug you mention fifteen years in a medical Ministry. Could you tell us which one or ones if you have switched. Also, do you know anyone that has had a claim of more than 50-100,000?

  19. I am looking into Liberty Health Share based on your review. I saw that they have 3 different “tiers” to choose from that allow you to share different amounts. Did it concern you that they won’t cover anything over a million dollars (on the top tier)? Hopefully we would never rack up those kind of charges, but stuff does happen. Do you know if all 3 tiers are exempt for paying obamacare penalties?

    1. The recently passed tax law eliminates the individual mandate after 2018, so there will no longer a penalty for not carrying health insurance after that. With that said, yes, all 3 plans are exempt. Even without a mandate, we feel it is still important for our family to have some type of plan for our healthcare. So, we are still sticking with LHS.

      As far as the cap goes, we were slightly concerned about it, but not overly concerned. There are very few instances where it would ever come to that. We decided, if it does happen, we just have to make it through until the next open enrollment period for Obamacare. Then, we can join the federal plan because preexisting conditions are covered.

      1. Gah I’m so confused. I just read something this morning that said the penalty for no health care doesn’t go away until 2019 and my husband thought he had seen something different somewhere. We need health care, but at $1,000 a month we just can’t swing our employer’s plan.

        1. You’re right. The individual mandate requirement is still in effect for 2018. All three levels of Liberty Healthshare are exempt, however.

  20. Has anyone come across Aliera? I was given this plan by a agent and I wonder why it is not famous like the 4
    plans you all have described here. Like to see some comparison between Liberty and AlieraHealthCare.

    Thanks in Advance

  21. Liberty HealthShare just announced via email to all their members that they are increasing the monthly share amount by $50.00. For example, those in the Gold plan with an individual membership will see their monthly cost is going up from $200 to $250 effective September 2018. The annual deductible is now doubled for Individual Gold members from $500 to $1,000. The other tiers also increased significantly. This is not a minimal increase and many people are upset.

    If anyone on here can suggest an alternative health care ministry, please let me know .

    1. Hey Mary,

      Thanks for reading. Although nobody likes to see prices go up, this is their first increase in 5 years, so I’m not really surprised. Compared to other options, it is still a pretty great deal. With that said, this article does list 3 other options for you to check out. I know a lot of people who are happy with Medishare too. You can read our full review here: https://clubthrifty.com/medishare-review/

      1. Thank you Greg!

        – Mary

  22. Heather Morrisette says:

    Our family left insurance 18 months ago due to a job change. We switched to Samaritan’s healthcare sharing ministry. We were paying $1500 a month (with a $7,000 deductible) to now $500 a month with no “deductible” but a $300 charge for each need. It has been outstanding for us. I would never go back to insurance. My 46 year old husband had a heart attack 12 months ago (bad genes) and I have seen first hand how it works. I negotiated with every provider to get discounts and I paid them within 45 days with the help of Samaritans. I have learned to price shop for services outside the city limits and go to the suburbs…$500 savings for one colonoscopy. I have a vested interest to save money for my fellow members. My regular doctor appts are cheaper now without insurance..doctors give me the cash or “uninsured” price. It was about $250 for a regular appt to now about $140.

    With Samaritan’s there is never the option of a provider ever dropping you since they work directly with you. Meaning, a hospital can decide it doesn’t want to work with Liberty or Medishare. They will always work with an individual whereas a provider can decide one day to not work with a certain company. With Samaritans, you are in control. I don’t mind working directly with the providers.

    For instance, when my husband was in the ICU $3500 a night, the doctor said he could move to a less monitored room $2000 a night. They didn’t move him because the hospital didn’t have room so he stayed in ICU. The next day I walked into the business office at the hospital and I asked for a printout of my bill. Of course, they charged me the ICU rate. I told them the scenario and got the cost reduced. This is one example of me being in control of costs! If I had a 3rd party doing this, it would have gone unchecked.

    Another example I found out is to never tell the hospital that you are with a healthcare sharing ministry. It is best to let them work with an “uninsured” patient unless they ask you directly ( I stupidly volunteered the information). They will work with you much better on discounts, financial aid (even if your income is over $100k) if they believe you are uninsured. I wish they would just post their rates/ costs so we would be on a level playing field.

  23. In searching for a healthcare plan this enrollment season I was only told about Medi-Share by my representative. I’m glad I googled alternatives and found this site. Do you know if this plan offers emergency care while traveling abroad? I travel to Canada and Mexico frequently.

  24. Nice review of health sharing. Being a physician in a smaller town I often struggle with what to tell my patients when they are struggling to afford their insurance. These health sharing plans have been great for many of my patients. One new healthcare model that is growing like crazy is direct primary care or DPC. This model couples perfectly with health sharing plans. DPC is structured with a primary care physician, a low monthly fee, and unlimited clinic services. In general any high deductible plan works well with DPC but a health sharing plan is by far the most affordable, and the combo of DPC and a health sharing plan may be the way of the future for quality care that is cost effective. If you’ve purchased a health sharing plan, definitely look up a practice near you that offers DPC!

  25. Trevor Hayes says:

    Hey Greg,
    My situation/ question is this:
    I work as a firefighter for a city and I have great health insurance from my employer, it is part of my employment package. But I have an option to not use the health insurance that is provided and receive a monthly payment for not using it. We use Kaiser as our health care provider and I do not want to switch. Is HCMSs a better option?
    Thanks for your time.

    1. Hey Trevor – if you don’t want to switch, why would you? I can’t give advice for your specific situation, but if we personally had the opportunity to stick with a group plan, we likely would do that. Also, keep in mind that healthcare sharing ministries are not insurance, so they are not regulated in the same way.

      1. Trevor Hayes says:

        Thanks Greg,

        That was helpful.

  26. Deborah Gendel says:

    Do NOT go with Liberty Health Share. It has declined by a 1000% in the last 8 months. No customer service. They do not call back. They conveniently loose everything. Just one big scam. Do not throw your money away. You will never hear from them.

  27. Ginger D James says:

    Wanted to correct statement made about Christian Healthcare Ministries…They do have member advocates that will negotiate discounts for members in the event that you are having difficulty receiving a reasonable discount. We have personal experience with this and have used a CHM advocate numerous times.

  28. Re: Liberty. I looked at the fine prints and noticed that cancer will not be covered for the first year or so of new membership. That was a scary part which I did not see in CHM. Any other thoughts?

    1. I was wrong. I called Liberty. they have the following rule, which means that the preexisting conditions should not be share. They are good companies. but for my family, CHS is at lower costs and saves $2700 a year due to lower monthly fee and lower deductible

      First Two (2) Months of Participation. For two (2) months after Enrollment Date as a Sharing
      Member, medical expenses for any reason, other than accidents, acute illness or injury, are not
      eligible for sharing among members and do not apply towards the AUA.

  29. We have a new Healthshare company called Zion. It will allow tobacco user and has many components that make perfect sense.
    It can be sold to individuals or to small groups. It can be added to a MEC HSA or Concierge doctor.

    1. Bill West says:

      Thomas, how long have you been with Zion? My wife and I are looking for another healthshare. Have you had to use their services yet?

  30. Ronald Czarnecki says:

    I found the program difficult to file needs and dangerous without preventive care. It seems everything claim was a prior or routine even though a normal office visit would not handle the exam. Colonoscopies are only covered if you are bleeding which means you already have cancer.

    Yearly check ups and the testing that goes with it are not covered. Even office visits when you are hurting but the doctor can not do a diagnosis are not covered. Therefore members tend not to go to the doctor and when they do have a need the condition would be far worse then what could have been handled if normal office visits were in the program. Services not covered were rectum exam and diagnostic colonoscopy with biopsy.

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