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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!