Healthcare Sharing Services: An Alternative to Obamacare for Christian Families

Mother and Baby-2If you’re concerned about rising health insurance costs and the individual mandate to purchase health insurance as outlined in the Affordable Care Act, you are not alone.  I will try to refrain from making any personal or professional commentary on the law itself, but it’s safe to say what was designed to improve access to quality health insurance has become a hotly debated topic that is leaving many people confused and frustrated. But there is a growing number of Christians who won’t be affected by Obamacare. That’s right – they are exempt from the requirement to purchase health insurance by January 1, 2014.

That’s because they are members of a Christian healthcare sharing service like Medi-Share or Samaritan Ministries. Based on the biblical mandate to love one another, these services provide an alternative for people who want to share healthcare costs with strangers who also share their faith. And these companies are not new – they’ve been around for 20 years. Today, more than 175,000 Christians across the United States are sharing medical bills and supporting one another through health crises with prayer and encouragement.  Oh, and hey – they also claim to be saving some serious cash!

Medi-Share is a Christian organization saving individual members an average of $945 annually and families more than $2,000 annually,” explains Drew Hawkins, public relations representative for Christian Care Ministry. “It’s a cost-saving decision that also gives Christian families peace of mind knowing their dollars don’t go towards procedures that conflict with their faith.”

Here’s how it works. Members contribute monthly dues to a pool that is used to pay for eligible medical expenses of other members. Through this form of “sensible stewardship,” Medi-Share and similar programs allow Christians to bear the burdens for fellow believers who are following the rules of biblical living. That means members are required to avoid alcohol abuse, refrain from tobacco use and illegal drugs and abstain from sexual activity outside marriage. And specific procedures such as abortions, cosmetic surgery and vasectomies are not eligible for sharing.  Other medical bills are typically paid out of pocket – like routine check ups, dental care and preventative screenings like mammograms.

So are healthcare sharing services a viable option?

I think they are, for some people. If you’re living biblically and looking to save money on your insurance premiums, this could be a good solution. I’m no expert on the subject but history shows this model of healthcare expense sharing has been proven effective for a lot of families. But it’s important to remember these are NOT insurance companies; they are programs that enable Christians to share financial resources. There are no state or federal regulations like there are with insurance companies.

Personally, I’m a little too much of a control freak to be comfortable with the level of uncertainty. Joining a health sharing ministry requires an act of surrender to God and faith in his provision. There is no contractual guarantee – like there is with an insurance company – that your medical bills will be paid for. You have to rely entirely on the body of Christ. That scares me. I know it shouldn’t, but it does. Please don’t judge me for that.

The other thing to consider – and I’m being perfectly honest here – is the reality of living biblically. Let’s just say, God forbid, my teenager makes a bad choice (it happens to the best of us) and ends up injuring himself or others as a result of alcohol or drug usage. Or maybe he strays from his faith and engages in sexual activity that results in an STD. Or what if one of my family members is experiencing clinical depression and attempts suicide? I certainly don’t like thinking about these things but they are very real possibilities – even in Christian families. And my guess is that if something like that were to happen, I’d like the peace of mind knowing the medical bills were covered and I could focus on the spiritual crisis at hand.

What about you? Are you enrolled in or have you considered a medical sharing service? I’d love to hear your experience or thoughts on the subject!

[Disclosure: I was not compensated to provide my views and opinions on this topic. However, this post contains affiliate links for products or services that I have personally researched. If you purchase a product or service though an affiliate link, your cost will be the same and I may receive a small referral fee to help support this blog and the International Christian Mompreneur Network. Regardless, I only recommend and share products and services that I believe may be of value to my readers.]

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  • Jennifer

    We’ve been with Samaritan for several years now and are THRILLED with them. When we had one family not send their share for one of our medical needs, Samaritan was quick to assign it to another family the following month. So while you’re relying on these families, there’s also a safety net in that you’re given some tracking tools to show who has sent their payment and who has not. It’s been fantastic for our family. I would encourage you to call and discuss what would happen if something happened because of some non-biblical action. I’m guessing they’ve encountered that before too. Thanks for the great post!

    • http://www.theresaceniccola.com/ Theresa Ceniccola

      Hi, Jennifer. Thanks so much for your input and sharing your experience! I’m glad to hear it’s been a good fit for your family and I’m really curious to hear how other folks are doing with the service.