Medi-Share is a non-profit, Christian-based medical expense-sharing program. Medi-share works by relying on members to take care of one another through financial contributions, as well as prayer. Medi-Share contributes to the costs of medical services such as doctor visits, telehealth visits, prescriptions, and family planning. Medi-Share has qualities similar to traditional insurance, such as a deductible and premium (which is the monthly share amount).
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What Medi-Share is
Medi-Share is a non-profit, Christian-based medical expense-sharing program. Members share in each other’s health expenses. Every month, members place their monthly share (similar to a premium) into one large sum, which is technically a credit union account. Those with expenses use that money to pay their bills.
In this guide to Medi-Share, we break down:
- How Medi-Share Works
- What Medi-Share Covers
- The Cost of Medi-Share
- Pros & Cons
- Frequently Asked Questions
How Medi-Share Works
Medi-Share works by members contributing through several cost factors:
A provider fee is comparable to a co-pay in traditional health insurance. Preventative or routine wellness appointments, including annual physicals or dental and vision care, are not covered by Medi-Share, so you need to be prepared for those expenses throughout the year.
Annual Household Portion (AHP)
Members of Medi-Share choose an annual household portion (AHP). This is comparable to a yearly deductible. The size of your portion would determine how much you'll have to pay out-of-pocket for covered medical expenses before the health share kicks in. For the AHP and monthly allocation, you can determine this yourself. The size of the AHP you choose will determine your monthly share. The higher AHP you choose, the lower your monthly share.
Preferred Provider Organization (PPO)
Medi-Share is partnered with a preferred provider organization known as Private Healthcare Systems (PHCS), and members are encouraged to find care through providers within the PHCS network. However, you can choose treatment with an out-of-network doctor. If you do so, a penalty may be applied for going out of network.
Families may take up to 20% off their monthly share amount by qualifying for the health incentive. To be eligible for the health incentive, all adult Medi-Share members in the household must meet specific health criteria. This includes blood pressure and BMI and weight/waist measurement.
When receiving medical care such as a doctor visit, you provide your Medi-Share card to pay your provider fee, and the provider will then bill Medi-Share.
The medical bill will be processed and discounted, and then your doctor will bill you for the amount you owe. Once the amount you pay meets your AHP for the year, your eligible medical bills will be approved for sharing.
What Medi-Share Covers
Here are a few of the medical expenses that are eligible for cost-sharing with Medi-Share.
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- Medi-share offers free telehealth access at no cost.
- If you need to see a doctor in person, choose a physician that is a member of PHCS, Medi-Share’s preferred primary provider organization (PPO). You’ll pay a $35 provider fee that does not count towards your AHP. And you’ll also be eligible for in-network discounts.
- Members get up to 6 months of FDA-approved prescription drugs per eligible treatment.
Emergencies & Hospital visits
- Members must pay a $200 provider fee for an emergency visit; this does not count towards your AHP.
- Hospitalizations: Members must pay a $35 provider fee per hospital visit that does not count towards their AHP.
- Adoption costs: For members who meet certain criteria, up to two adoption events can be shared per household.
- Sharing is limited to $125,000 for any single pregnancy event.
- To be eligible, your AHP must be $3,000 or higher, and you must have faithfully shared from the month of conception through the month of delivery.
- Well-child care: Sharing for routine well-child care is eligible until the child reaches the age of six.
- Disability expenses: Through their Manna program, Medi-Share can replace up to 80% of lost income for up to a year for Manna members.
- Seniors who have Medicare Parts A and B can enjoy the benefits of healthcare sharing of medical bills that Medicare doesn’t pay, including copayments, deductibles, hospitalization, and out-of-country urgent care.
- Up to $5,000 of funeral expenses are eligible for sharing
Medi-Share does not cover the following:
- Dental, vision, and hearing: not eligible for sharing but can get exclusive discounts.
- Routine and preventive care: this includes physicals, immunizations, vaccines, mammograms, lab studies, and colonoscopies
- Fertility/infertility care: Including birth control, infertility testing, and sterilization
- Alternative care: Including vitamins, acupuncture, and experimental treatments
- Counseling: Including dietary counseling, diabetic counseling, lactation counseling, or genetic counseling
- Behavioral or mental care
- Cosmetic procedures
- Non-prescription drugs
- Hearing aids
The Cost of Medi-Share
The cost of Medi-Share depends on your AHP, state, marital status, family size, and age.
Application Fees & Up-Front Costs
It costs $50 to apply to Medi-Share, and there is a $120 one-time membership fee with the first monthly payment. The member would also deliver another one-time fee of $2 to set up the “sharing account.”
Annual Household Portion (AHP)
Members can choose their AHP, and the cost ranges between $1,000 to $10,500. It is the annual amount a household will contribute to its medical bills before participating in bill sharing with other members.
For example, if you select a $3,000 AHP, you will be responsible for a total of $3,000 of eligible medical bills before your bills are published for sharing by other members.
Doctor Visits & Hospitalizations
If you visit a Medi-Share covered provider, it would cost about $35 for doctor visits and hospitalizations and $200 for emergency room visits. Telemedicine visits do not cost anything. The rest of the bills would be submitted to the PHCS for additional payment consideration.
Pros & Cons of Medi-Share
While Medi-Share is a unique health insurance alternative, there are certainly pros and cons you will want to consider before applying and signing up.
- Healthcare sharing ministries are cost-effective because each family contributes a monthly specific dollar amount they choose based on program options.
- Membership cannot be terminated for developing a medical condition.
- Healthcare sharing ministries do not impose annual or lifetime limits.
- Qualified adoption and funeral expenses can be covered.
- Membership is not affected by the state of residence or employment status.
- Healthcare sharing ministries can be audited annually by an independent accounting firm to ensure financial stability.
- Healthcare sharing ministries provide a viable option for those looking for an alternative to shopping on the ACA Marketplace.
- Many states do not consider healthcare sharing insurance, so consumers have little or no legal protection if a claim is not paid, coverage is denied, or the ministry goes bankrupt.
- There are certain restrictions and payment caps relating to pre-existing conditions.
- Certain pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes, may require a member to pay an additional monthly amount along with standard membership fees.
- Because healthcare sharing ministries are faith-based organizations, they can have specific rules associated with membership. For example, members might be required to attend church regularly, abstain from tobacco and illegal drugs, and attest to a particular statement of faith.
- Healthcare sharing ministries cannot be used with Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) or reimbursement plans, such as the qualified small employer HRA (QSEHRA).
Alternatives to Medi-Share
There are several alternatives to Medi-Share you may want to consider when looking for healthcare coverage:
Healthcare Marketplace Insurance
Marketplace plans can be purchased from the health insurance marketplace during open enrollment each year, usually in November.
Options include gold, silver, and bronze plans. Your choice will largely depend on your budget, general health, and how much coverage you need.
Medicaid or Medicare
Medicaid in the United States is a federal and state program that helps with healthcare costs for eligible individuals with limited income and resources. Medicaid also offers benefits not typically covered by Medicare, including nursing home care and personal care services.
Medicare is the federal health insurance program for individuals 65 or older. Some younger people with disabilities may qualify as well.
Membership Based Healthcare
For $45 per month, you can become a Mira member and get access to hundreds of urgent care clinics across the country, low-cost lab testing, low-co-pays, and discounted prescriptions.
Mira is not insurance. However, the healthcare benefits that are offered can provide exceptional coverage when uninured.
Medi-Share Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Below we outline some common questions when it comes to Medi-Share.
Do you have to be Christian to use Medi-Share?
To be part of Medi-Share, you must follow Christian values and agree to live by Biblical standards and agree with the Statement of Faith.
The Biblical standards include:
- No use of tobacco or illegal drugs
- No abuse of legal drugs
- No sex outside of traditional Christian marriage
How does the claim (and sharing) process work?
After receiving medical services, members present their member ID cards to their medical service provider and receive negotiated rates. The provider will send the bill to Medi-Share, where the ministry negotiates for further discounts and determines if the bill is eligible for sharing among other members. Then, the provider will bill the patient for what they owe.
How long does it take to get approved for Medi-share?
Since there is no Open Enrollment period for Medi-Share, you can sign up anytime. However, it’s recommended you submit your initial application by the 20th of the month if you want your plan to start on the 1st of the next month.
Is my share amount tax-deductible?
Your share payment is not deductible for federal income tax purposes as a charitable donation or medical expense. Since there is a strong possibility that your medical expenses will get shared by another Member, you cannot deduct your share as a charitable donation, even though Christian Care Ministry is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit ministry. Your share payment is not tax-deductible as an insurance expense because Medi-Share is not insurance.
Medi-Share is not insurance; however, it could be an excellent option if you have found that traditional health insurance plans are not affordable for you. If you’ve been paying for unsubsidized health insurance, Medi-Share could help you save money.