Health sharing ministries are ways Christians can gain affordable healthcare coverage that bypasses the insurance companies. It is a true form of reliance on the church to share each other’s burden…
There are three major Christian health sharing ministries:
- Samaritan Ministries
- Christian Healthcare Ministries
There are numerous smaller ones, but here I focus only on the top three, since they are the most popular.
Samaritan seems to offer a good balance of benefits with monthly prices. Its pricing is simpler.
They keep administrative overhead down by having families send their shares directly to other families in need. Only once a year will a typical family send a share to the office to cover administrative fees.
(Note: Samaritan will soon be adding another option, called Samaritan Given. Generally, you’ll have more choices about trading off out-of-pocket expenses and monthly shares, but it will also come with a membership card that will result in hassle-free bill submission. You can read about it here: Samaritan Given)
The other two ministries offer families greater flexibility in choosing lower monthly costs by letting them increase the annual out-of-pocket expense they are willing to pay. In this way, they are like graduated high-deductible health plans. Christian Healthcare Ministries by far offers the cheapest possible monthly prices, but with the tradeoff of higher out-of-pocket expenses. A family would want to have a great deal of money in a healthcare sinking fund if they wanted to take advantage of the lowest priced option.
Medi-Share is a good deal for younger families but rises in price as they get older. However, they do have an advantage over the other two in that they have a fixed household out-of-pocket expense. This makes it easier to budget, because you know that you won’t pay more than your AHP each year. With the other two companies, the out-of-pocket expenses are tied to each incident or need, so there’s some guesswork involved in planning for a total out-of-pocket each year.
Samaritan Ministries offers monthly memberships that vary in their share amounts depending on a family’s size. There are three family categories:
- Married with children
A family’s share amount will not increase as they have more children. The price for a family with one child is the same as a family with more than one child.
Samaritan offers two different programs: the standard, which is called Samaritan Classic, and a cheaper version called Samaritan Basic.
In both programs, a family’s monthly share is paid directly to a Christian family in need. This isn’t the case for all of the ministries.
The monthly share amounts for Samaritan Classic memberships range from $160 to $495 (530) per month. The prices vary with both family size and the age of the parents.
The monthly share amounts for Samaritan Basic ranges from $100 to $400.
The max shareable per need is $250,000 for the Classic plan and $236,500 with the Basic plan. Along with the decrease in coverage, the out-of-pocket value increases from $300 per need with the Classic plan to $1,500 per need with the Basic plan.
There is a one-time startup fee of $200. In the first year, your first two shares (and maybe your third) are sent to the corporate office to pay expenses. In the following years, just one share goes to the office. The remaining shares go directly to Christian families in need.
Samaritan offers a form of catastrophic coverage for needs exceeding $250,000. Called Save to Share, there’s a $15 annual fee and up to an extra $399 in shares per year that a family of three or more will be responsible for paying, regardless of which plan (Classic or Basic) they participate in. For an individual, the amount of the extra annual share is just $133, and for a household of two the extra share is $266. There is no upper limit on the size of the share. Repayment will be limited in each by the amount of money available to share.
You can calculate your monthly share by going here.
Their guidelines are published here.
CHRISTIAN HEALTHCARE MINISTRIES
Christian Healthcare Ministries offers three tiers of plans that vary in cost and coverage. As the monthly membership price increases (in the form of monthly gifts), so does coverage. Monthly payments are also based on the number of people in your family who are covered. They call this “units.” A married couple will count as two units: husband and wife. All children, together, count as just one unit. So the most a family can expect to pay is 3x the price per unit.
Unlike Samaritan, your monthly gifts are mailed directly to CHM, where they are put into a member escrow account and disbursed from their central office.
The programs and monthly cost per unit, along with the maximum family cost, are broken down as follows (prices increased to as-shown in April of 2019):
- Bronze – $78/unit, $234 max
- Silver – $118/unit, $354 max
- Gold – $172/unit, $516 max
The amount you pay out of pocket for each illness increases as the monthly price declines. The amount per incident that you will be responsible for varies with each program as follows:
- Bronze – $5,000 per incident
- Silver – $2,500 per incident
- Gold – $500 per incident
The limit for each illness or incident is $125,000.
CHM offers catastrophic coverage through their Brother’s Keeper program. It is an option that you can tack onto any of the three programs. The annual enrollment is $40, plus an average of $100 in extra gift amounts you pay out each year ($25 per quarter). This amounts to about $12 extra per month.
For Silver- and Bronze-level memberships, the participating in Brother’s Keeper increases the maximum coverage by $100,000 per illness the first year, for up to $225,000 per illness. For each year that you renew and remain in the Brother’s Keeper program, you gain an extra $100,000 in coverage per illness, up to $1 million. It takes 9 years to grow your coverage to this level.
For Gold-level members, however, the catastrophic amount kicks into effect immediately, providing unlimited coverage per illness starting from day one. The company has produced a table that summarizes all the variables and costs, and you can view it by going here.
Monthly sharing costs for Medi-Share are based on the number of people in a family. Similar to the other two ministries, there are three levels: single, married, or married with children. The monthly cost is the same if you have one child or six.
Medi-Share calls the out-of-pocket portion an annual household portion, or AHP. These range from $1,000 on the low end to $10,500 on the high end. You choose how much you want to pay each month by selecting your AHP. If you want to pay less, then you select a higher AHP. You are allowed to change your AHP amount at anytime, but there is a fee ($75) for doing so, and the AHP resets to $0 with the level change.
There are also no maximum sharing limits imposed on members, either annually or over their lifetime.
Like Samaritan, Medi-Share’s plans take the age of the participants into consideration when determining the monthly price.Generally speaking, Medi-Share’s monthly prices are higher than the others, but members receive extra benefits not offered by the others in the form of telehealth providers and discounts on dental and vision. You can read about these benefits, along with tables of sample dental and vision savings, by going here.
For a family of three or more, the prices of the standard monthly share (as of January 2020) range from $1,319 to $621 if the oldest member is 64 years old. For a family whose oldest member is 19, the shares range from $822 to $213.
For a married couple, the prices of the standard monthly share range from $1,059 to $451 if the oldest spouse if 64 years old. For a young family whose oldest member is 19, the shares range from $336 to $58.
For singles aged 64, the shares range from $678 monthly to $289. For young singles who are 19, the range is $169 to $48.
A health incentive discount can reduce monthly shares by up to 20% if you qualify.
Unlike the other health sharing ministries, Medi-Share has a Senior Assist program for those who have become eligible for Medicare.
Senior assist prices (if you have Medicare parts A and B):
- 65-70: $70/mo/person
- 71-75: $85/mo/person
- 76 or older: $95/mo/person
Annual household portion of $1,250.
Any of these options are better than traditional insurance plans, especially if they fund abortions.