As insurance premiums soar, so does the demand for cheaper alternatives to covering medical expenses. That is why healthcare sharing ministries – which average half the cost of traditional plans – saw significant membership surges of nearly one million people over the past decade.
For thousands of years, Christians have come together to care for each other and carry each other’s burdens. In 1993, Dr. E. John Reinhold realized this notion could direct health initiatives in a better way. He founded Christian Care Ministry, headquartered in Melbourne, Florida, with the goal of providing healthcare solutions based on spiritual principles.
The Medi-Share Solution
Christian Care Ministry created the Medi-Share program, a formalized approach to sharing healthcare burdens and paying eligible medical bills. Today, it is one of the largest healthcare sharing ministries, serving nearly 400,000 members nationwide, who have shared more than $1.6 billion of one another’s medical bills.
“The ministry is a peer-to-peer community uniting and connecting those in need with those who can help,” said Michael Gardner, senior director of communications. “It’s a culture of community, prayer and stewardship.”
Medi-Share equips its members to come together, share medical burdens and pray for one another, while providing the freedom to choose a healthcare solution that honors their beliefs and faith.
Medi-Share focuses on people, not profits. The program offers member-voted guidelines to explain which medical needs are eligible and ineligible for sharing. Members sign a “Statement of Faith” and commit to be tobacco-free.
“The ministry is a peer-to-peer community uniting and connecting those in need with those who can help.”
– Michael Gardner
Members can choose one of seven individual, family or senior options and frequently save 50 percent compared to health insurance. Additionally, members who lead a healthy lifestyle can receive a lower monthly cost. The monthly share depends on how many family members participate in the program and the member’s annual household portion, which is the amount that a member must pay toward eligible medical bills during a 12-month period before the other members share with them. Through a secure online portal, Medi-Share coordinates the sharing of medical bills between members.
“Many members find Medi-Share helps meet family healthcare needs at a significantly lower cost than other options,” said Gardner. “We’re passionate about our members living a healthier lifestyle and saving money. For example, we have 24/7 free access to telehealth doctors — virtual care anytime, anywhere. My family has saved hundreds of dollars over the past year using this service.”
Acceptable Under the Law
Enrollment in healthcare sharing ministries has grown substantially since the passing of the Affordable Care Act. This movement is for those searching for an affordable healthcare option that aligns with their faith. Members of healthcare sharing ministries are exempt from penalties for not having health insurance; therefore, the program is compliant with the law.
Embracing the Community
The common thread running through Christian Care Ministry is an emphasis on prayer, community, and a healthy lifestyle. From cost-sharing stories from members, to help received just in the nick of time, and even to how prayer has touched others, Christian Care Ministry is a testament to this growing form of healthcare provision.
“It’s a beautiful example of people voluntarily coming together to help each other,” concluded Garner.