How You Can Dump Obamacare and Get Started with an Affordable Alternative (MediShare Review)

MediShareI just dropped my $1,100/mo health insurance plan with Humana.

Before you think I’m crazy – I am after all a married father of three and a U.S. Citizen with a IRS-enforced mandate hanging over my head – listen to what I replaced it with.

I joined the Christian medical expense sharing community, Medi-Share, for around $275/mo.

Medi-Share is not insurance (nor is it charity as you’ll see). But it’s a great alternative for some; and if you have it, you’re exempt from the Obamacare mandate.

Below I’ll share the advantages and disadvantages of signing up with MediShare. And I’ll share my signup experience so you can know what to expect if you want to join.

What is Medi-Share?

Medi-Share is a non-profit, medical expense sharing program for Christians. Members share in each other’s health expenses.

Essentially, each month, we all place our monthly share (like a premium) into one big pot (technically a credit union account), and those with expenses use that money to pay their bills. It’s not insurance. But for some, it is the ideal replacement for health insurance.

Here’s more from Medi-Share:

“Medi-Share is a healthcare sharing program where Christians share financial resources to pay each other’s medical expenses. Since 1993, over $875 million has been shared and discounted among Medi-Share members. It’s a proven biblical model of healthcare–Christians helping Christians.”

Advantages of MediShare

Let’s explore some of the positives of this sharing program.

Escape the current health insurance market. If you’re like me – self-employed and making a solid income – the implementation of Obamacare was likely a major bummer on a financial level. Obamacare took away my low-cost, high-deductible health insurance plan.

I used to pay $300 a month for a $10,000 deductible policy. Obamacare took that away and replaced it with a $1,100 a month plan.

Like me, you may also fundamentally disagree with Obamacare – the completely partisan implementation, the administration’s half-truths, selective enforcement, collusion with insurance companies, and wasteful rollout, as well as, how your health insurance premiums are being used under Obamacare.

Medi-Share allows you to leave all that behind. I cannot express the joy of being able to check out of the system and not having to face a penalty or high premiums for the rest of my life.

Significantly lower cost than the current unsubsidized health insurance market. Compared to unsubsidized health insurance under Obamacare, Medi-Share is a huge money saver. My example above shows a very significant savings. If you’re not sure if you’re subsidized or not, check the calculator linked from this post.

Medi-Share is affordable compared to health insurance because they are still allowed to discriminate.

Disadvantages of Medi-Share

Let’s explore some of the challenges of the program (which can be many).

Currently unable to participate in a Health Savings Account (HSA). Since Medi-Share is not insurance, you can’t qualify for an HSA (yet). HSA’s as you know, require you to have a high-deductible health insurance plan. This is a major bummer for me. I was really enjoying the annual tax deduction from contributions to our HSA.

Medi-Share is currently working with Congress on a bill that might allow HSAs to be used with sharing programs. I’m contacting my Representative to ask him to support this.

Don’t worry if you already have funds in an HSA. You can still use them on qualifying medical expenses. We plan to use ours on expenses that aren’t covered through our particular Medi-Share plan.

No tax deductions. Health insurance premiums are tax-deductible. Medi-Share contributions are not. That said, medical expenses are still deductible, subject to a threshold based on a percentage of your adjusted gross income.

As you can see, MediShare is not for everyone.

Other Considerations

It’s important to understand how Medi-Share works. It’s not a charity, or a way for Christians to help the needy. My tithe to the Church or individual giving through certain charities is how I take care of that.

Medi-Share is simply sharing among believers. So to have the right to share, you have to be a believer and living an active Christian lifestyle…

No coverage for medical expenses related to unbiblical (i.e. not Christ-like) activities. Get injured in an accident where you were driving drunk? No coverage. Get an STD from an extra-marital affair? No coverage. When you join Medi-Share, you agree to live your life according to biblical principals.

You must have a Christian faith and be attending Church regularly. To participate in the program you’ll need to sign a form professing your faith and share your Church information.

Restrictions for maternity expenses. Expecting? Don’t expect to just jump on MediShare six months in and get full coverage. You can have children on the plan, but to get full coverage you will have to be participating in the plan before you get pregnant. Otherwise, coverage has limitations.

Restrictions for pre-existing conditions. Common sense dictates that to make Medi-Share work, you can’t just have people jumping on the program after they discover a major medical need. If you do have a major medical issue (or have one in remission) you might be allowed to join Medi-Share with limitations.

How Much is Medi-Share

My plan – I’m 38 with a spouse and 3 kids – currently costs $277.00 a month with a $10,000 Annual Household Portion (i.e. deductible). That includes a monthly share (i.e. premium) of $197.00 and a Health Partners fee of $80 (i.e. premium increase due to weight).

A similar plan with a $2,500 deductible will run you $506.00 a month for the basic premium. Here’s a chart based on my age and number of people on the plan:

MediShare Costs

My Experience with Medi-Share

I just came into the program, so this section will be updated in a few months after I’ve had a few expenses. But initially I can say that I’m happy to be a part of Medi-Share. Making a $277 payment vs $1,100 is a huge boost to our monthly budget, to say the least.

My daughter had to go to the pediatrician this week (cold and fever) and the experience was not unlike what we’re used to. We went to our same doctor, paid a $35 co-pay, and left. I’m assuming we’ll get a bill from Medi-Share if, based on our plan and deductible (called the Annual Household Portion), we owe more. Medicine was paid out of pocket, but looks to be reimbursable after I submit a form.

Is Medi-Share for You?

There’s a lot on the line when it comes to your family’s medical needs. Take plenty of time to evaluate all of the pros and cons of the program and don’t forget to consider your long-term concerns. Are you having more children? Will you get married soon? Are you about to retire and qualify for medicaid? All these things, and more, make a difference.

Medi-Share makes sense for my family because:

  • We are self-employed Christians and don’t mind being obligated to the coverage restrictions related to lifestyle.
  • Our income will likely exclude us from being subsidized in the Obamacare health insurance marketplace. Medi-Share gives us considerable monetary savings.
  • We don’t have pre-existing conditions and we don’t plan on having anymore children (i.e. we don’t have maternity care needs).

How to Join Medi-Share

It takes a while to go through the application process so leave yourself plenty of time. Here are the major steps:

  1. Request information about the program.
  2. Apply.
  3. Complete the medical forms and testimony of faith.
  4. Complete the power of attorney for the share account (set up with a credit union).
  5. Make your first share payment.

Thanks for reading my review. I’ll update it as I get more experienced in the program.



Last Edited: August 28, 2014 @ 3:14 pm
About Philip Taylor

Philip Taylor, aka "PT", is a husband and father of two. He created PT Money back in 2007 to share his thoughts on money and to meet others passionate about managing their finances. All the content on this blog is original, and created or edited by PT. Read more about Philip Taylor, and be sure to connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, or view the Philip Taylor+ Google profile.

Comments

  1. RetiredBy40 says:

    Totally makes sense!  We are lucky enough to have tricare, but if we didn’t, espeically with this whole ACA craziness, we would definitely be considering doing something like Medi-share or one of the other Christian cost-sharing options.  Way to go thinking out of the box!

  2. I think it’s great that this exists as an option for people, I only hope that by the time we’re out of traditional employment there will be similar options without the faith-based requirements.  We don’t mind the lifestyle restrictions as we probably comply with them all in our normal lifestyle anyhow, but as agnostics we’d be excluded.

  3. Plantingourpennies I think you’ll definitely see it happen.

  4. RetiredBy40 Thanks, I can’t take much credit. Bob from Christian PF was my guinea pig. He’s been on it for almost 5 years now and they now have a little one. If it was a good fit for him, it’s likely a good fit for me.

  5. GaelicWench says:

    I respect your posting, PT, about this “outside the box” method of being able to receive medical care. Through the Affordable Care Act, I have to say that I am finally, FINALLY able to get health care for my pre-existing condition (chronic pain). This after either being turned down on a continual basis by insurance companies or paying unreasonable premium rates and deductibles with riders attached. 

    I guess I am grateful for the little things. You may have had exceptional healthcare prior to the President’s implementation of his signature ACA, but I didn’t. Respectfully speaking, it’s a reasonable trade-off, I’d have to say. 
    My druthers? Universal healthcare and medical marijuana. And before I am accused of being a socialist/communist, I’m a centrist, with leanings to the right for the military might and to the left for the social nets. I believe in balance so everyone can benefit, and that includes healthcare. Just sayin’. Thanks for an informative posting. I always enjoy reading them.

  6. HullFinancial says:

    An old neighbor just had their 4th child and the first through this program and they were very pleased with it. It’s intriguing, though I’d be concerned about the financial stability of the underlying organization. The same risks apply for standard health insurance, but it seems like they’re more quantifiable.

  7. brokeandbeau says:

    While I think it’s great that these options exist, I take issue that I don’t have access to a similar resource just because I don’t subscribe to a faith.  Luckily, I qualify for Medicare under the ACA.

  8. Your Medi-Share premium could fluctuate some but you will save big over the years.  The pool is administered well with little if any admin costs.  I have clients that have used this Christian pool over the years and had big savings for the family.

    Makes you think that if a simple Christian pool can handle a medical program with little admin., then why cant we do better at the Federal/State program level.
    Big question; what will ACA be like in the coming years as a cost to taxpayers?

  9. My husband and I also signed up for Medi-Share when Oabamacare came along. We love it because of the Christian community and support feel and also because there is no annual or lifetime limit and they gave us a $23/mo discount because we met their health incentive requirements.

  10. Eric McClain says:

    How does it work for significant medical expenses like a long hospital stay?