Health care sharing ministry members share their experiences

One of the things I emphasize to people is that being an uninsured self-pay patient doesn’t mean having no coverage at all in the event of a major medical catastrophe, it can just mean not having conventional health insurance. There are a number of alternatives that can provide coverage that is often just as good, and almost always at a much lower cost.

One alternative to conventional health insurance is membership in a health care sharing ministry. These are voluntary nonprofit organizations of people who agree to share each other’s medical bills, similar to how insurance operates. There are four ministries that I’m aware of: Samaritan MinistriesChristian Healthcare MinistriesChristian Care Ministry, and Liberty HealthShare.  Membership in Liberty HealthShare is open to anybody who agrees with their commitment to religious liberty, while the other three only accept members who are practicing Christians.

The cost of joining each ministry (technically I suppose Liberty HealthShare isn’t a ministry, but that’s the term I’ve been using for a decade now so I’ll stick with it) varies, but is often around half of what a roughly equivalent insurance policy might cost. Some charge more or less for membership according to age, and all of them have some sort of ‘personal responsibility’ amount similar to deductibles in conventional insurance. 

Members in the ministries are able to submit their eligible medical bills to the ministry, and are reimbursed by other members, either directly or through the ministry’s central office. Eligible medical expenses are similar most insurers would cover, although there are some things that won’t be covered. Substance abuse or any injury that occurs during the commission of a crime, for example, won’t be covered. 

Health care sharing ministries are attractive alternatives to conventional health insurance for a couple of reasons beyond just their affordability. Because they are voluntary organizations, they aren’t regulated as insurance companies. This means they aren’t required under Obamacare or state regulations to pay for services that some find highly objectionable, such as abortion or contraception.

In addition, even though members of ministries are technically considered to be uninsured, they are exempt from having to pay Obamacare’s tax for being uninsured.

I should also mention The Health Co-Op,* which isn’t a health care sharing ministry in and of itself, but is a separate entity for members of Samaritan Ministries that helps to provide some of the services that a conventional insurer might provide or fill in some of the gaps that can occur for ministry members. These include bill mediation, a telemedicine service, and a prescription drug discount program.

I’ve written about sharing ministries before, of course. I thought today I’d share some of the stories I’ve found of individuals who have been members to give readers a better sense of how they work in practice.

Jared White, founder of the Creation Based Health web site, published a testimony written by Dustin and Melissa Cheatham on their experience as members of Samaritan Ministries:*

…my family is a member of Samaritan Ministries International, and our monthly payment is $315 with a $300 deductible per medical need. This is a sharp contrast to insurance policies with similar coverage which would cost us a $600 monthly payment and a $10,000 deductible…

When an insurance company is not in the equation as the middle man between patient and provider, then doctors and patients are the only ones deciding what’s best for the patient’s health care—not an insurance underwriter, adjuster, or government bureaucrat…

Samaritan members have come through for us each time we had medical needs in our family. One medical need of my wife’s required an MRI and lumbar puncture procedure, as well as follow-up doctor visits. The bills totaled $9,566.00, but the medical providers gladly offered us discounts, simply because we asked kindly, eliminating $5,464.16 off our balance due. That left us a balance of only $4,101.84, which we were reimbursed in full via personal checks from other members through the Samaritan Ministries International’s very organized system for ensuring every medical need is covered… Additionally, our deductible (“Share”) was $0 for this medical need, because Samaritan reduces the Share when discounts are negotiated…

The second medical need my wife had was for ingrown toe nail surgery in two toes. This surgery would have cost us $675 if we had no health care coverage, but the final amount we’re out of pocket is $121, because like the previous medical need we asked for discounts from the doctor’s office and received reimbursement from members.

The only perceivable drawback to this health care alternative is that we had to pay a few bills with our credit card while we waited for reimbursement checks, but this wasn’t a problem for us because it allowed us to earn bonus points with our credit card issuer. Despite this, health care sharing has eliminated fears of expensive medical bills, and it’s proven an empowering experience for us as we feel we have much more control of the decisions and options we make regarding our health care.

Christian Care Ministry, which operates under the name ‘Medi-Share,’ has several stories on their site, here’s Cynthia’s:

My husband and I have been self-employed for years so insurance coverage was always a big concern for our family. We had insurance, but it was so expensive and such a drain on our finances…

In April of 2000 I suffered a terrible accident while on a ski trip with my family. One moment I was skiing, the next I was falling. As I fell, I heard a pop in my knee and knew it was bad. The staff at Christian Care was great. That was such a relief and it freed me to concentrate on healing.

That process turned out to be more complicated than expected. The fall tore my ACL and I had to undergo reconstructive knee surgery to repair the damage. Unfortunately, complications from the surgery hampered my recovery. I was in a lot pain and my leg wouldn’t function properly. I ended up having extensive physical therapy for over a year.

CCM was really wonderful throughout this entire ordeal. The doctors at CCM were especially helpful. They gave me exercises to do and never failed to encourage me or answer any questions. At this point I feel as if I’ve known them all my life. I even called Dr. Evans recently because I was experiencing knee pain again and he told me exactly what to do to relieve it.

Between the surgery and the extensive therapy, I think the total cost of my accident was around $25,000. Medi-Share participants shared that cost and we are so grateful, but what really touched my heart was the spiritual support I received. The caring staff at Medi-Share called many times and no matter whom it was, he or she always ended our conversation with prayer. The prayers were so spirit-filled and I could tell the staff really lived what they were praying. What a blessing Christian Care Medi-Share has been!

Another story I found was that of Austin Davis, an auto mechanic who also blogs at The Honest Mechanic. He joined Christian Healthcare Ministries, and as you read you’ll definitely see the sort of challenges that self-pay patients often run into:

…My family (wife and two small daughters) are very healthy people. We do not take any prescription medications, we eat very healthy and stay active and we stay out of the doctor’s office because of our healthy lifestyle.  I have had health insurance with Aetna for about 10 years now, and have been paying $780 a month for a $10,000 deductible health insurance policy.  Meaning, I would need to pay $10,000 before any insurance coverage would kick in.

Two months ago Aetna raised our premiums to $1081 a month for the same policy… I called at least 5 other health insurance providers and got quotes from them. Each of their quotes were pretty similar, $800-$1000 a month give or take…

I called and emailed the people at Christian Health Care Ministries… and loved what I learned about them…

Your coverage starts immediately and there are no tests or exams to go through.  I was able to start coverage for my family with a 10 minute very friendly and polite phone call.  Not only am I saving a ton of money AND getting a much lower deductible but I feel good about helping others with my monthly contribution…

I was deathly ill last month with a very serious infection in my right arm. I broke down and went into a local emergency room with a major hospital, although it was a strip center building not a large hospital. My 1 hour visit with 1 shot and 2 prescriptions (no exams, no blood work…nothing really) landed me a $1,900 bill in the mail a few days later from Memorial Hermann hospital system, and a few more days later a bill from the doctor for $752.00!

…I called CHM and they said that the hospital I went to offers a 61% discount to insurance companies and to call and ask for the discount to be applied to me…

After contacting Hermann Memorial Hospital system 4 separate times with NO response from them, I submitted a complaint to the BBB which got a response within 48 hours.  I then followed up with a phone call to the head of the billing department and pleaded my case….severe overcharging without my consent and basically no real “emergency services” provided to warrant the charges.

He stood his ground and said “I stand by the doctor’s billing” but I stood my ground and remained calm but was very firm about my assumption this was fraudulent and not justified.

He told me the hospital is transparent and open about their charges, and I told him I was going to go to the hospital right then and there with my i-phone and take a video of the front desk and post that video on youtube…and call him a liar.

They DO NOT post any charges or even a reference to any charges that WILL occur once you walk in the exam room.  I got him red handed.

I told him I would pay the pharmacy portion of the invoice ($245) and that was all, take it or leave it and I will post that video and name names!

He offered me 50% bill reduction, which I refused and told him he had 1 minute to accept my offer or I was hanging up. I told him I knew they offered 61% to insurance companies and his deal was no deal. He said “you are not an insurance company”.  I stood firm on my offer….and he finally accepted.

I contacted the doctor directly and he applied the 61% discount to his $752 invoice without much argument.

So, I can only thank CHM for giving me the inside info about the insurance discount and the BBB for helping me get my point across. Stand your ground people against the doctors and healthcare companies and do not be intimated by their ruthless practices.

Original invoices amount $2600, settled amount $688

The Healthcare Co-Op also shares a number of stories about how their services helped members. One story that jumped out at me in light of my recent posts on the challenges of finding a doctor that will treat self-pay patients fairly that of Cindy:

Cindy, a Health Co-Op member for only a few weeks, remembered we encouraged her to contact us before any doctor visit to see if The Health Co-Op can help her handle these visits in a more cost effective way.

Just a few short hours before the visit with her two children, Cindy called our office to inform us they will need allergy shots. By the time she arrived at the doctor’s office, her personal Health Co-Op advisor reduced the quoted cost from $419 to $120.

The Health Co-Op can achieve such savings by helping the office staff understand Cindy  will be paying cash and by ensuring the routine lab work for her children is performed through our lab program. This family saved half of the annual cost of their member benefits on this first office visit!

Results: Savings of $299 on first office visit.

As I’ve said before, health care sharing ministries aren’t for everyone, and as the story of Austin Davis demonstrates there are still challenges to being a self-pay patient as a member of a ministry (although the ministries often are there to help meet those challenges). I encourage anyone looking for more affordable alternatives to health insurance to seriously consider one of the four ministries described here (or if you know of others, please let me know! I only recently found out about Liberty HealthShare, before that I’d thought there were only three).

* CORRECTION 1/3/2014: The original blog post misidentified the family describing their experience as Samaritan Ministries members, this has been corrected.

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115 Responses to Health care sharing ministry members share their experiences

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  13. Christie says:

    I have been a member of CHCM since 2011 and in the first year or so, my
    Needs were meet with help and in a timely manner. This past year, since
    Their membership grew from 30,000 to 80,000 members, I have had a
    Terrible time getting my needs meet or any response. My representative was
    Covering 4 states which they have now cut to 1. The past nine months have
    Been very frustrating. Do you have a rating for these ministries? I am thinking
    To my check into another ministry to join.

    • R. says:

      I am sorry you had difficulties. I have been a member since June, 2015. I have been able to reach someone or have my calls returned
      the next day. I was starting to feel frustrated when I did not get reimbursed sooner for bills. It took closer to 4 months. I had not completed the check list as needed. But, I soon received all the money I was owed. I feel better about CHM now.

    • Annette Holden says:

      I too am VERY disappointed in Christian Healthcare Ministries! I have been unemployed for over 2 years. When my COBRA coverage ran out I began coverage with CHCM in August 2016. In October of that year I developed a kidney stone. I went to my regular doctor and not an expensive ER. I also had an ultrasound. I managed a medical practice for over 12 years so am very familiar with medical bills and claims. I gathered all of my bills and submitted them online with CHCM. A couple of months past and no word so I called to check the status. They were missing information but had never contacted me to ask for it. One page of my scan did not go through so I resent it. Again another 6 weeks and no word. The same thing when I called. They needed more information but had never contacted me. In Feburary I finally found work and my insurance kicked in on March 1st. I informed CHCM that I no longer needed my membership because God had blessed me with a job! My claim from October had still not been paid. Yesterday I received a notice dated April 19, 2017 that since I was no longer a paying member my medical claims are no longer eligible for payment! I had paid for 7 months of coverage and had one medical incident and they refuse to pay even a portion of it. VERY disappointing!!

  14. Edwina Barbour says:

    I have also been a member of CHCM since November of 2013. I have had nothing but trouble out of them. I have mailed all bills to them as requested and still have not been paid one dime towards any of them. When I called a month ago, I was informed that they had my bills stamped as of August 1, 2014. Per their guidelines you are to be paid within 60-90 days. NOTHING!!! Then today I receive a letter from them, that was written on October 16,14 and today is November 6, 14 that I need to turn in a lot of information that has ALREADY been turned in. When I looked at the second page of their request, it was for ANOTHER patient. I have that patients name, SSI and ALL doctor visits. So, if I have their information who has MINE???!! This is breaking so many patient laws. I feel that this company is a fraud and does not do what it says it will do, yet they still keep getting your monthly payments and the extra brotherhood payments. Can anyone suggest what I can do about this? I have tried calling repeatedly with no help.
    Thanks for any and all help.

    • says:

      I’m very sorry to hear that your experience as a member of a sharing ministry hasn’t been as expected. I can’t speak to any specific issues you may be having, all I can say is that your experience seems to be very atypical. I’d keep trying to contact them via phone or e-mail to get this resolved.

      • Edwina Barbour says:

        Thank you. I have tried and still do not have an answer from them or this resolved. Unfortunately, I am going to have to go back to an insurance company that will end up costing me $528.00 a month. But I have to do what I have to do for my health and wellbeing.

        Thank you again.

    • Christine says:

      I wondere if this person above has had a need submitted to CHCM yet?

      I have been member of CHCM since 2011. The first few years needs were met in
      A timely manner and questions could easily be answered.
      In the past year and a half since Obama care kicked in, their membership increased
      Tremendously and they were not prepared for the increase. Now one’s needs
      Are six months behind in being addressed and met. Also I have been forced
      To wait and make many calls, send emails, to find answers to questions. I am
      still waiting for answers. I have also had conflicting answers from my representative and Howard Russell.
      Dr. Jacobsen is their medical advisor and Howard Russell has conflicted with his
      Treatment allowance for myself.

      This has left me very discouraged, frustrated and with charges on my credit card because
      of lack of reimbursement. There is really nowhere to turn for help. When my representative was not responding to me, I called and spoke with other representatives But to no avail or follow up.
      I have even sent emails to Howard Russell and his assistant Norma Mull with no response or follow up. I just keep waiting on my representative who tells me they are just
      addressing July needs in February. It is now March and I am still waiting.

      I let them know that I from my experience my opinion is they have left their pre-Obama
      care members in the lurch to peruse new members and more money, which is unfair and unprofessional.

      I do not know if other ministries are any better with meeting needs currently.
      Perhaps you or someone on your blog could advise me in that regard.

      • says:

        I do know that the post-Obamacare period has been tough for some of the ministries as they have grown, which is fairly typical of any growing entity. Hopefully CHCM has by now caught up with the influx of new members, I’d be interested in hearing from you on your more recent experiences (note that I am, sadly, responding 2+ months late – the ministries aren’t the only ones who have been busy!).

        • Jessica says:

          I have been a member since January – and the past 2 months I finally needed to submit a need. My response time to all questions over the last 10 months has been well under 24 hours; when it came to filling the need, I have responses even faster, even by e-mail. Last month’s bills are already paid, so it seems that CHM has caught up.

          Now, I assume we are talking about the same place, because I have not seen the acronym “CHCM” to describe any of the healthshare ministries, but Christian Healthcare Ministries seems the closest and most logical assumption.

  15. Hello, I work in the Communications department at Christian Healthcare Ministries and I would like to address Ms. Barbour’s complaint (I could do the same for poster Christie, but I have no last name and therefore no way to research her situation).

    First, I am very sorry, Ms. Barbour, that you have not had a pleasant experience with CHM. We always want to make sure that our members have the best possible experience, so please allow me to explain what happened with your medical bills.

    Yes, we received two medical bills from you August 1. However, at the time the bills did not total your personal responsibility amount of $500. The total amount of the bills apparently increased later, but to date we have not received an itemized bill, which is crucial in order to be able to process and share your bills (as per our Guidelines). That is why you received the letter requesting the itemized bill.

    We also received two more bills from you at later dates. These bills are eligible and are being prepared for sharing; however, we are not yet to the 90-day mark for sharing.

    I also want to mention your concern about private information because we take our members’ privacy very seriously. We do not send out ANY forms, letters, or paperwork of any kind with Social Security numbers or personal medical information. If you received another member’s paperwork by mistake, we do apologize for the error as we are all human and do sometimes make mistakes. However, the only information that would have been included on such paperwork is the CHM need number, which is specific to our computer system and is not personal or sensitive information. We do strictly follow medical privacy laws such as HIPAA and if you wish to read our privacy policy, you can do so at

    Again, I’m very sorry you have not had the type of experience you hoped for or expected. I hope you will reconsider and give us the chance to serve you in the future. We want you to feel loved, appreciated, and served as a member of the Body of Christ and of our ministry family.

    If you wish to contact me personally, I can be reached at 1-800-791-6225, ext. 5796.

    In Christ,

    Lauren Gajdek
    CHM Communications Director

    • says:

      Thanks for addressing this, Lauren!

    • L Jackson says:

      My family was a member CHM through out 2016. We took my son to the emergency room one late night of a large local hospital. It ended up being a non-issue and we were in and out in 15 minutes. The hospital charged us about $1,1,00 and would not accept any Health Care Sharing negotiated discounts. When I talked to the CFO of the hospital about this, he told to feel lucky that it wasn’t a major incident like cancer or a heart attack. He encouraged us to get insurance, which we did in the open window for 2017.

      I also had some health issues for the end of 2016 that were hard to diagnose, but simple to treat. We turned those bills into CHM and were denied because we were no longer with them in 2017 even though we paid premiums to them when the services were provided. We were told that it is their policy that if you leave them, they will not pay for reimbursement. BE AWARE!
      We paid them about $5,000 in premiums for the 2016 year and had about $3,000 in reimbursement during that time we were paying them. This is terribly wrong and not very Christian like. If any other business was paid for a service and didn’t honor like CHM, I would consider it fraud.

  16. Jeff Gilmore says:

    Yes, thank you Lauren Gajdek. As a Christian considering the switch from an individual plan through CIGNA to Christian Healthcare Ministries, it has been difficult to find independent and candid reviews online from current CHM members. After reading Edwina’s comment I began to have some serious reservations about CHM. However, based on Laura’s response, it sounds like a combination of a lack of understanding the $500 personal responsibility threshold under which sharing would not occur along with a lack of providing an itemized bill. This was further complicated by trickling in additional bills. Thanks for the response Laura and I will continue to look for other CHM member testimonies as I hone in on making a final decision.

    Any other CHM members out there care to weigh in on their experiences?

    • Edwina Barbour says:

      Hi Mr. Gilmore,
      1st please know that I totally understand the $500.00 personal responsibility threshold. I have paid this and more. I have also sent in all itemized bills and all information that they have requested. In regards to bills trickling in, that is not the case at all. All bills have been sent in on a timely matter. I/we have followed all the guidelines that we were told to follow and yet we still have not had anything resolved or paid. I have worked in the insurance field and medical field for a very long time prior to going into ministry and know how to submit paperwork and all details. So please before commenting that it’s the patients fault for not understanding, please get all the information. Also understand that I have been a victim of identity theft and with sending out the wrong patient information to another patient, this sends up many red flags. If you have had the headache of having your identity stolen, you will understand my frustration over al of this. I realize we all want whats best for everyone in todays society when it comes to healthcare and insurance. This is why all information, good or bad must be stated about self pay insurance companies.
      Thank you for your time and I will let you know if things have been resolved in a time and fair matter.

      • says:

        Because this was a direct response to another commenter, I went ahead and posted it, but future comments on this particular customer service issue between Ms. Barbour and CHM will not be published. Comments by others regarding their experiences, good or bad, with any health ministry are of course welcome, I just don’t want to start an endless thread of back-and-forth over one particular person’s experience. Feel free to contact me directly at selfpaypatient [a] gmail [dot] com if you want to comment further on this matter.


  17. says:

    I’ve encouraged Edwina and Laura to continue to communicate to resolve this issue, but directly through e-mail (or at least not on this site) as I’d prefer not to be a platform for what appears to be a customer service issue. I’ve asked Edwina to post comments again if she in the end is dissatisfied with the resolution (or satisfied, I suppose – that would probably be better in fact!).

    But I do want to hear more experiences, with any or all of the ministries, so please don’t hesitate to share them here!

    • Ron Linkins says:

      I wasn’t offended by the exchange between Laura and Edwina. They were civil and I am considering a health share option. I found their exchange useful in helping make my decision. I understand your concern about an endless banter, but perhaps a little more time would help people like me weed through the rhetoric to get to some truthful value in decision making. Thanks

  18. Anita says:

    I am seeking God’s guidance about this issue. I have some serious problems with the methods that these companies use. Everyone pays into the same pot. Then they call health care providers and request a lower rate than everyone else pays? Why? Because God can’t meet the need? God’s word says His children don’t beg bread.

    Psalm 37:24-26
    “24 though he may stumble, he will not fall,
    for the Lord upholds him with his hand.
    25 I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
    26 They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.[a]” (NIV)

    So why would a Godly company call to ask for a cheaper rate than everyone else pays?
    Why do they give it – because they figure that’s all they are going to get anyway?
    I don’t feel right about that – it sounds like God’s kids are begging.

    Frankly, most Christians do not realize that gluttony is a sin. What do we have here in the United States? We have an epidemic of obesity caused by gluttony. Look around in your churches how many obese people do you see? What kinds of health problems does it cause? Diabetes, Heart problems, Circulation problems, Breathing problems, and many others that are side effects of THOSE issues. These cost God’s children trillions of dollars a year, because they don’t obey God’s word. God says,

    James 5:14-16
    “14 Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”(NIV)

    How do you find out what your sins are? You FAST! That means going without food, not eating like a glutton. Science is now confirming what God taught His children a along:

    The one thing required of us is – listening to Him and obedience!

    2 Chronicles 7:13-15
    “13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. “(NIV)

    I say this not as a criticism, but as one who knows! I was a size 3X, my joints ached, I could barely lift my legs. The Lord took me to an “All you can eat” restaurant. He spoke to me and said, “Anita, look around and what do you see?” I said, “I see a lot of obese people and I’m one of them.” He told me to ask Him to be my shopping partner. I did. He began to buy my groceries. He changed my eating patterns. I cut out fast foods, soft drinks, excessive sweets. I began eating good fruits and vegetables and mostly poultry. Not only did I save at the market, but I lost a tremendous amount of weight. I also fasted and this not only helped me spiritually, but it also helped me physically. I took walks at the mall. He miraculously healed my heart and he also healed me of an emergency detached retina. WHAT I HAD TO DO WAS OBEY HIM! I haven’t been in a doctor’s office for years and I take no medications! I am now thin and I can move PAIN FREE! Follow God’s Health Plan and Live!

    • says:

      Sorry for the delay in getting this posted and responded to. I’m going to try to keep away from a theological debate here, I’ll just say this is an interesting perspective that Christians may want to consider in deciding whether or not joining a health sharing ministry is right for them. For myself, joining a ministry was the right choice and I feel it’s consistent with my faith.

    • Kyle says:

      Anita, try reading these passages:
      John 8:7
      Matthew 7:1-5
      Romans 14:1-23

    • Jessica says:

      The rates that medical providers charge are based on most people paying with insurance. A high number is submitted to insurance, insurance goes back and forth with the office staff (eating up valuable staff time and requiring additional staff which further raises the cost passed on to the patient), and ultimately most insurances do NOT pay the full amount billed to them (even when the patient gets “credit” for that portion and isn’t required to fill it in).

      Including Medicare in there makes it worse.

      Self-pay patients, Christian or otherwise, typically receive a discount if they pay in full up-front, because of the following:
      –no billing to be sent out
      –no concern about not being paid
      –no repeat bills, possible collection (where they only get pennies on the dollar anyway)
      –no office staff time
      –highly reduced paperwork
      –I am sure there are more benefits – this is just what I saw when I worked as a medical assistant for a dermatologist.

      So for me, as a Christian, to be sure I am not paying *more* than everyone else, I do not feel uncomfortable with taking a discount. Now I personally have not yet had to request one – the discounts offered have all been reasonable.

      I state that I am self-pay and (for office visits), I will pay up-front in full. When I first went to the doctor after becoming a self-pay patient, I didn’t even ask for special treatment – they just had a policy in that office of an automatic 10% discount for self-pay patients. Now they have had experience with the timeliness of CHM, they called me to say they are now offering 25% discount across the board for services provided at their office.

      I didn’t “ask” for a thing. When health needs for a particular issue rose above my personal responsibility, and there was question of “What will insurance cover or not cover”, I explained how the healthshare ministry works — I not only get the care I actually NEED (not what I don’t need; and all that I do need), but they automatically applied reasonable discounts, because they knew they were going to be paid without tons of paperwork and office time on their ends.

      In the end, health providers tend to receive the same amount of money or *less* from insurance than they do self-payers. At least in my area.

      • Joshua says:

        I think it’s important to understand a bit of the complicated mess that is insurance. You aren’t conning anyone by getting a “discount”. Every insurance company negotiates discounts from billed rates and or in many cases have provider agreements in which the provider bills a certain (ludicrous) amount but the agreement governs only a certain portion being paid by the insurance company, the rest gets written off, reducing the tax liability of the hospital, office etc. There are no laws (unfortunately) governing what a provider can charge for a given procedure etc and studies done on subject showed egregious cost differences IN THE SAME PROCEDURE EVEN IN THE SAME CITY depending on where the patient got the care. Obtaining this information is incredibly difficult because it is not made public and because ultimately what the hospital actually gets for the procedure is based on a range of factors (income, self-pay, insurance agreements etc) and yet they will hound you for the ‘pie in the sky’ number and get it out of whatever sucker is willing to pay it regardless of the actual cost to them to do the procedure. The only one getting conned by not getting a discount is you. There’s nothing fair or Godly about how medical costs are billed and passed onto the consumer in this country. It’s a shell game and unfortunately it’s the patients, particularly the misinformed, that are losing.

        • Sean Parnell says:

          Some good points, but I’d like to point out that the amount that is written off between the billed and the negotiated rate does not in fact reduce the tax liability. Amounts that are written off as uncollectable, on the other hand, are charged against profits and so reduce taxes (but only after reducing profits).

  19. Dana says:

    My husband and I are self employed. We had health insurance with BCBS for many years with high premiums and a $6000 deductible. As Obamacare was implemented, our premiums went from approximately $800 a month to $1000 a month with the same $6000 deductible. While with BCBS, we never met our deductible, so all of our medical bills we paid out-of-pocket. We are relatively healthy with a few minor medical concerns, so looking at spending $12,000 a year in premiums and then paying up to $6000 in medical bills, we decided to make changes.

    We had never heard of healthcare sharing ministries before and were quite interested when I found this option while searching online. I researched all of the choices and decided to go with Christian Healthcare Ministries. We joined in Oct 2013 and are very happy with CHM. I sent in our first request for payment for $2300 in medical bills in July 2014. We received a postcard showing the date they reviewed our bills. After 90 days we received a check in the mail for the $1847.

    I have called CHM with questions a number of times and have always been able to promptly speak with a kind and considerate representative who answered my questions without hesitation.

    While very nervous at first about making such a huge change in our healthcare needs, we are very happy that we chose Christian Healthcare Ministries.

    • Chriss says:

      Thank you Dana for sharing this testimony….I just joined CHM today. I am very relieved to find such a wonderful opportunity to share with each other our prayers and medical needs…

    • Julie Griffin says:

      Why weren’t you fully reimbursed? That is my fear in joining one of these networks.

      • Dana says:

        With CHM, members are responsible for the first $500 per incident. If I would have had more medical bills for this same issue, they would have been covered in full, because the first $500 was already paid. It is somewhat like a deductible.

        We are still very happy with CHM and do not regret leaving BCBS at all.

        • Kris says:

          Hi Dana. I’m self-employed as well and my premiums are going up 24% next year compared to this year. I’m gonna get hammered. It’s just me and my son I’m covering. I’d like to hear more about your experiences with CHM if you’re willing to chat some time. God bless. Kris

          • Jessica says:

            I am also self-employed; and it is myself and my son. CHM has been more than worth joining – it is such a comfort to know I can choose my healthcare provider without worrying about networks and what will insurance cover, etc. :)

          • Dana says:

            Kris, I would be happy to try and answer questions you may have. As of now, I have only submitted medical bills the one time to CHM.

  20. Jeff Stogsdill says:

    I was looking for information on preexisting conditions. We were told that any previous issue (like Shoulder surgery) would never be covered, is this true. Or how are preexisting conditions handled. Like others, our BCBS policy went up from $350.00 to $926.00 with a $7,000.00 deductible. So much for the “Affordable” care act. Any information would be appreciated.

    • says:

      Each ministry handles pre-existing conditions a little differently, in some after a certain number of years it no longer is considered pre-existing. Check the details on each ministry’s site or membership guide.

  21. Heather says:

    We have been lucky for a number of years to have no premiums/no deductibles for our employer provided health plan, but now my husband will be switching jobs that doesn’t offer coverage, and the cost for our family is outrageous and nothing even comes close to the coverage we did have. (Like over $1000 per month and would still have a huge deductible) So this is looking to be our best option. I’ve been researching a few of them and we are leaning more towards MediShare because I like the idea of being more like a PPO where I give them my membership card and only pay $35 upfront that day and get all of the discounts on my bill reflected that regular insurance companies receive. Besides the representative describing it to me I can’t find any testimonials/reviews that talk about that process. I just wondered if anyone could back up or reassure me that it is that easy. Thanks!

    • Heather says:

      After doing tons of research for the most beneficial plan for our family we decided to go with Liberty Health Share. The reasons we ended up going with this plan is because they do offer 1 free preventative appt. per year (the others ones we checked into did not cover anything preventative), It is also just a $500 deductible per year and then they cover 100% up to 1 million per incident. There is no amount you have to have your claim be in order to get it shared like another company we almost went with. We also get a discount for vision/dental/pharmacy. They take care of all billing with the Dr., so nothing for us to submit.

      • Michelle says:

        I just joined Liberty Medishare. My issue that I’m coming up against is my old doctors tell me that they won’t accept it, and won’t accept me as a “private pay” with me later being reimbursed. Anyone have words of wisdom as to finding providers?

        • FraL says:

          Did you join Liberty Health Share or Medishare? Try calling around and asking doctors if they offer “self pay discounts.” More and more doctors are embracing this because ACA is so bad.

          Call Liberty Health Share or Medishare and ask them for suggestions too.

  22. Tammy says:

    I wanted to comment to benefit those currently researching and trying to make decisions regarding healthcare coverage. To help me decide, I diligently sought and relied on reviews of cost-sharing ministries. My family has a very similar story to Dana’s above. Self-employed, with similar ever-increasing BCBS costs, on top of out of pocket costs because the deductible was never met. We were very frustrated but trusting God’s provision when we came upon Christian Healthcare Ministries online. I did lots of research and even made a spreadsheet comparing the different cost-sharing ministries. These are my findings.

    My husband and I both have pre-existing conditions, and I found CHM had the most generous pre-existing condition policies. From my first call of probably 20 questions, their customer service was top notch. I requested their financial information (history, cash reserves, etc), received a prompt reply, and found their organization to be the most financially stable. They have had only one small increase of their monthly fee in 10 years or so, another good sign of being well-managed.

    We enrolled in January 2014 and could not be more pleased with CHM. Due to my high risk status, I need three screenings done annually at the most reputable facility, which does not accept insurance. With BCBS I paid $2,000 out of pocket annually for these screenings on top of $12,000 annual premiums. With CHM I pay ZERO out of pocket for my screenings and only $5,000 annually for my family of three! It did take about 90 days to be reimbursed by CHM, but I simply set up a payment plan of what I could afford with the provider for those few months. The last benefit I will mention is that I have referred three friends to CHM and have received three months FREE in the last year. When I hear all the distress about Obamacare out there, I thank God that we are peacefully enjoying a biblically based program that really works and glorifies Him. Hope this helps someone…may the Lord lead each of you in this important decision!

    • iris says:

      Tammy, CHM is the umbrella organization for MediShare and for Samaritan Ministries. Which one did you go with? Thanks!

      • Tammy says:

        Iris, I’m a member of Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM), which is a totally separate organization from Medi-Share and Samaritan Ministries. It’s been almost 3 years, and we couldn’t be happier with CHM! As someone else noted, they do take a long time (about 4 months) to reimburse though.

        • Martijn says:

          All you have to do is setup a payment plan with people you owe. Tell them you have CHM and explain that you get reimbursed from this awesome Christian organisation.

          I did it with the birth of my son. Was able to setup payment plan with all providers (hospital, and docs) and paid 4 months a minimum payment on an interest free credit card (found these tips at

          The providers allowed me 6 months of minimum payments which I didn’t even need that long.

          BTW I got every single penny paid for by CHM. Docs, Hospital, Meds, everything and I didn’t even need to pay my personal responsibility ($500) because of the many discount I obtained.

  23. Kathy says:

    I have a huge issue with these cost sharing plans. First, while it makes it look good for the patient, these companies such as the Karis Group and Samaritan Ministries contact health care providers and attempt to demand huge discounts. I work for a small, rural hospital who runs on a shoestring. We are a non-profit hospital and our budget is extremely tight. We get letters requesting anywhere from a 25-60 percent discount and these are not numbers we can live with. We provide the services at a great cost (salaries, electricity, insurance, other utilities, supplies, etc.) and then we are almost “bullied” into a large discount. As a non-profit facility, we offer a Charity Care plan. We also provide other charity services throughout our community. Again, I would like to emphasize that we, as well as other facilities, are non-profit. The Karis Group and others like them are a For Profit corporation. Let me ask this…does anyone ask for a discount on their electric bill? On their phone bill? But we are expected to discount our prices. I am sorry, that just does not seem very Christian to me.

    • says:

      I don’t know about your specific hospital’s billing practices, but the request for discounts is a lot more understandable once you realize that most hospitals dramatically mark up prices for the uninsured/out-of-network patient, typically by a factor of three and I’ve seen items that are five, ten, even twenty times more expensive on the “chargemaster” than what Blue Cross/Blue Shield or another insurer pays. Many rural hospitals are indeed in financial trouble in this country, but I’d suggest that if they simply decided to become self-pay friendly by offering real prices for patients who pay at the time of service, they could find themselves a nice new revenue stream that doesn’t come with the billing headaches of the third-party payment system.

      • Kathy says:

        Nothing you are saying makes sense. First of all, there is no special mark-up of prices for self pay patients. That is illegal on all levels. The price hospitals charge for a chest xray to a private pay patient is the same they charge BCBS or Medicare. The issue comes in with contractual adjustments. If the facility has a contract with BCBS to accept their payment then it is usually only a 4-6% discount. Medicare and Medicaid is a whole other story and would take a lot more time than I want to invest at this point. But, to make the long story short, we take HUGE discounts with Medicare and Medicaid because we have to, not because we want to.
        Bottom line – we can charge no more to self pay patients than we do to insurance companies, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.
        These companies who negotiate on behalf of the patient is not doing their client any justice. If these patients would realize that if they went to bat for themselves with the hospitals/doctors, they would probably get as good if not a better offer.
        I love the earlier post from the “honest” garage owner who bullied the hospital into getting a reduced price. I only wish he would try that with me. If I went into his garage does he have ALL of his prices posted…bet not.

        • says:

          Kathy, I didn’t say there was a special markup. The problem is just the reverse, in fact – the list price (AKA the chargemaster) is set at levels well above what hospitals actually charge insurance companies, who get a substantial “discount” off of the list price. This is a pretty well understood phenomenon, probably the most popular writeup of this is Stephen Brill’s article in Time magazine:,2,26,MedicalCostsDemandAndGreed.pdf (note that I disagree sharply with Brill on a number of issues, but he’s correctly identified one of the big problems in health care today.

          Your hospital may very well only give BCBS a 4-6% adjustment, but it would be radically outside the norm if that is the case. And yes, Medicare and to a greater extent Medicaid do pay much less than commercial insurers. My general understanding, which surely varies by hospital and service, is that Medicaid is almost always a loss in terms of revenues covering expenses, while Medicare offers a modest but real net profit in terms of revenue vs. costs.

          And yes, individuals can sometimes get substantial discounts by going directly to the hospital, but many don’t feel they have the knowledge to do so, where as someone like the folks at Karis or the ministries do this for a living, have access to information on what insurers typically pay that can help guide them in negotiations, and have the time to devote to the issue.

          As for the garage owner, I’m guessing he doesn’t charge some customers 3-5 times or more what he charges others.

          • Andrew says:

            In regards to discounts, I have in front of me a statement from our local bone & joint office. I had a knee arthroscopy in December 2014.

            $2760.00 – MRI
            $2159.61 – “Insurance Adjustment” / write off/discount to Cigna

            $3475.00 – Arthroscopy, knee, surgical
            $2974.26 – Insurance Adjustment to Cigna

            This doesn’t include the anesthesia, hospital, yada yada yada, just the surgeon. however, those bills were similarly discounted.

            So, yeah, some medical providers do discount heavily, or as Sean mentioned, they inflate the “list price”, so that they can then offer the discounts insurers have come to expect.

            I guess this is similar to the “list prices” posted on the back of hotel doors… people don’t usually have to pay the hotel’s “list price” if they visit PriceLine/Orbitz/etc, but the hotel is legally allowed to charge up to that maximum posted rate.

          • FraL says:

            Andrew – may I ask if you are with one of the health care sharing ministries? Did they negotiate for you?

          • Echad1 says:

            Several years ago my family was without any coverage. My son developed pain in his side on a Sat afternoon. Our family doctor was concerned about appendicitis and recommended an MRI at a local small town hospital – nothing else was open Sat night. The test wound up being inconclusive as the dye didn’t move down fast enough and they didn’t want to wait around and re-scan – This left me confused of why, if a MRI was warranted, was it suddenly not important enough to run it again 30 minutes later. IN then end my son was fine, apparently a gas pain. The bill was $5200 for the scan alone. I did some research and a walk-in imaging clinic would have charged $700 (and may have been negotiable below that). I contacted billing who immediately cut it 50% (cash discount) and eventually cut it to $1200. I don’t think I “cheated” the hospital, as that was far higher than the going price for the service. Yes, a hospital has higher overhead but that only goes so far. I would say an extra $500 is plenty enough.

            This is my take. Our society has gotten into a dysfunctional and dishonest mode. Hospitals jack the bills up high to scare people into thinking they can’t live without insurance. The industry knows that people who have insurance demand more services because they don’t have to pay for them directly. Like a buyers club, more services means more money into the medical industry (and out of the citizen’s pockets) . That is, we would make markedly different choices of which tests to run if we were going to have to pay for them. Doctors are often driven by liability and will call for tests even if the are not a good $/benefit. Most people think that insurance is actually lowering the health case costs, that is, they get insurance to pay what they don’t want to pay. Hospitals also get a benefit in showing high “write off” amounts to the state and federal regulators, (i.e the amounts some uninsured people walk off and don’t pay). On top of this the FAR majority of of households have no savings, nothing for even little emergencies.
            We had a choice in this county. We could have pushed for 1) Families to actually set aside savings, 2) Medial providers to have *one* fair price 3) Patients actually make cost vs value judgements as to which services to use. 4) Citizens actually become parts of accountability communities (e.g. Churches) that then chip in to help in deserving cases.
            The other choice was to demand the government to enforce insurance and eventually to put us all under a federally rationed healthcare – that’s the way we chose. In the end, since we can’t make the hard choices we’ve subjected ourselves to someone who will – the Gov.

          • Martin says:

            I need to respond to Andrew below (or above) about discounts. I come from mechanical engineering field and manufacturer’s are also listing prices of equipment in their catalogs and contractors get 50% discount of those prices, so if other fields and trades do this , I bet hospitals and providers use the same practice charging you the official “list price” and then you need a “contractor” to get 50% discount. I used this just as analogy.

            I am looking to switch to any of this sharing program so reading all these posts are very helpful to make a decision and get to know what I might be dealing with. Thanks for having this blog set up to discuss as Obamacare is really a disaster.

    • Heather says:

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that discount just automatically given to patients with traditional health insurance? They have special pre-negotiated rates with all the major carriers. That’s why on our old statements (anthem and medical mutual) we would have the charges for service, the discount negotiated by our insurance, what insurance paid, and then what our responsibility was. It is sort of a shame that providers don’t just automatically give all of their patients those discounts, insurance or no insurance.

  24. Bree Mercer says:

    CHM we have been a member since last October and haven’t had a need until the last couple of months. I have talked to several people all but one we unfriendly and rude. We have not received any reimbursement yet it is not past the 90 days yet. I find there system incredibly basic were they could streamline a lot of issues by updating it so a member can see what is needed right away in terms of itemized bills. I will not be continuing with them at this rate. The customer service alone is enough to make you leave.

  25. FraL says:

    I have been a member of CHM (Christian Healthcare Ministries) for a few months and they seem like reputable people. I know they have grown dramatically. Their monthly payments or shares has gone up about 10 times in the past five years. I have not made any claims yet and pay my shares on time. I have also recommended people to CHM and also Liberty Health Share. One of them signed up with Liberty. The others are sticking with regular insurance.

    These postings here on the forum about CHM concern me. Do you have any experience with Liberty Health Share? They seem to cover some preventative things like colonoscopies without any co-pay or deductible. I am not trying to be negative. I hope all these groups continue to do well and serve their members and God.

  26. Melinda says:

    Medishare – please read the fine print. They want you to “go after” other people to pay for your medical accident before they will pay. Example: if you get hurt in your friends house, you are supposed to “sue” your friends insurance company to pay your medical bills. I don’t see how this follows Biblical principles, and certainly isn’t acting in faith that bills can be covered. I’m very disappointed in their practices.

    • Jenny says:

      Any traditional medical insurance company would do the same. If someone gets hurt on your property then your home owners insurance is the first one responsible for payment. Why do you think there is “No Trespassing” signs and “No Hunting” signs on peoples properties. If someone were to get hurt hunting in on your property you would be legally responsible, whether you had knowledge of it or not. I know this from experience!

      • Mrs. Miller says:

        Not necessarily. Trespassing laws may vary by state. For instance, in Texas in most cases you trespass at your own peril. However, if injured as an invited guest at someone’s home, you simply file a polite claim with their insurance company. They have already been paid to cover liabilities on that property. Why expect another party (even Christians) to pay for a liability over again while the homeowner’s insurance company sits on the premiums that have already been paid to it to cover that exact liability? Christians especially should strive not to waste legitimate resources.

  27. Suzanne says:

    Someone by the name of Sean from has posted answers several times to people’s questions about health care sharing ministry members sharing their experiences.
    But, why can’t I find that web site as named, on the internet?


    • says:

      Because I never built a site to go with my consulting company. E-mail me at sean [a] impactpolicymanagement [dot] com if you want to touch base with me, thanks!

  28. FraL says:

    Here is a tip to save on prescriptions. Go to Costco’s web site and look for the pharmacy. They list the prices on all their drugs. There are hundreds of pharmaceuticals on Costco’s web site and the prices are great.

    If you do not have a Costco nearby, print out the price and see if Wal Mart or Sams will match it. Even with a discount card, CVS is a rip off. A prescription I got at CVS was $45 when it is on Costco for $15. I used my CHM card and CVS used to be about $20. I was shocked when they charged me $45. Avoid CVS. My guess is Walgreens is as expensive as CVS.

    • tina davanzo says:

      Costco is by far the cheapest for prescriptions when you have to pay out of pocket like I do. You do NOT have to be a member to get your prescriptions filled either. Same with Sam’s Club, however Sam’s wants you to buy “up” your membership with them to get a bigger discount. Not a Sam’s Club fan. I called all the typical stores for prices and all were ridiculous in their prices. For the same prescription I paid over $200 at Sam’s, it cost $45 at Costco!

      • FraL says:

        The nice thing about Costco’s web site is you actually see the prices online so you have a baseline or ball park. Costco is almost always the cheapest. If you are not a member – just tell them at the door you want to go to the pharmacy. I think, by law, they have to let you use the pharmacy.

        • says:

          I have heard that as well about them having to let you in by law. Haven’t confirmed it yet though.

          • Lisa says:

            Yes, both Sams and Costco will let you in for prescriptions, vision appointments and alcohol. Memberships are not needed for the 1st two items. I’ve not confirmed it for the alcohol but this is what I have been told.

    • Rich says:

      I have found the GoodRx App to be a great tool to find the best price on prescriptions …. We have been using this app for 15 months now and have saved $2200.00

  29. Jeff S says:

    Great info here. I am looking into CHM as an alternative to BC/BS’s proposed 61% increase in my monthly premiums slated for 2016. With CHM I understand that the first $500 of any given occurrence must be met by the member. My question here revolves around the reason for asking for a discount from the doctor/provider.

    For example, if there were an occurrence where I received a doctor bill for $2500, I would pay $500 and CHM would pay $2000. Yet I am encouraged (or am I required?) to ask for a discount from the doctor. So if I am successful in negotiating the bill to $1500, do I still pay the $500 and CHM pays $1000 (instead of $2000 had I not negotiated)?

    My question, if I save CHM $1000 as in this example, is there a benefit to me as a member having successfully negotiating this bill? Or am I simply keeping CHM in a better financial position? Thanks!

    • says:

      It looks like any discount you negotiate is taken off of your share, so in the scenario you described you would pay $0 and CHM would pay $1,500. Here’s how it’s described on their site:

      “Also, any discount (on an eligible bill) you help obtain applies toward your personal responsibility amount…” Part of #2

  30. Joel Soto says:

    Hope all is well!

    I’m currently with BCBSTX. Well they are no longer offering “individual” PPO. I live in Houston, TX. My PCP is at Methodist Houston. Well Methodist doesn’t accept BCBSTX individual HMO. Long story show, I have no pre-existing medical conditions, I’m pretty much healthy. I like getting a yearly check (physical and lab work). This year I visited the Dr twice. Yearly check up and an ear infection were I saw a ENT specialist. Lucky the insurance paid for mostly everything. I had to cover s portion of my lab work.

    My question is, what ministry should I be looking in to?

    I’m a full time audio engineer. I serve at church as s contact engineer and travel…A LOT!

    Any help would be great.

    Thank you all very much!


    • says:

      Can’t recommend a specific one, bu there are only 5 of them so hopefully it won’t take to long to compare them and find the right fit for you!

    • FraL says:

      Sean is correct – you need to decide. One of the newest ministries is in Texas. I think my favorite is Liberty HealthShare. Their coverage for $199 a month seems to be among the most comprehensive. Some preventative procedures like colonoscopy (age 50 and over) are fully covered.

      For a person on a budget or who wants to pay a bit more for unlimited coverage, it is CHM or Christian Health Ministries for. CHM is also one of the oldest ministries. I have CHM but may eventually switch to Liberty. Call them all and talk to them plus do your home work. Please note that I used terms like coverage, please realize these ministries are not insurance companies.

      • Erika says:

        Hi Joel

        Just wondering who you decided on, I just spoke to Liberty Health Share and the process seems very efficient. I hope when a need arrives that goes down smoothly. We are a family of four with both my husband and I being self-employed, pretty healthy ourselves and our children also…

  31. My wife and I are very interested in this approach to healthcare; we are currently uninsured and want to know much more about how this system might be in our best interest. The most pertinent question we have at this point is regarding the monthly payment. Additionally, we would like to know if you can provide some dental coverage information. I am 59 years old and my wife is 58 years old. Thank you very much.

  32. Greg Brown says:

    My wife and I joined CHM in Oct of 2013. In January of 2015 I had my first ER visit and the total bill, including prescriptions, a follow up visit to a clinic and a follow up with a specialist was in the area of $2400. Surprisingly the process in filling out and sending in the necessary forms was quite easy and in a week we received a card informing us that our payment would be sent to us between 60 to 90 days. The money showed up on time, we were happy as were the medical providers. In June we lost our daughter and my wife and I have received cards, notes, books from numerous members who we will never meet offering their prayers to help us deal with our grief. In short, they treated us like a family member! And….every time I have contacted CHM, whether it be by email or phone and there have been several, I have always be dealt with in a professional manner.

  33. Kristin says:

    I am leaving a comment because I have been a member of a healthcare sharing plan for a portion of the past year, and found them to be very kind and informative. However, I am going back to paying twice as much for conventional insurance because I suffered a very difficult injury this past year that involved immediate surgery within a week of the accident, a month of no driving and painkillers and rest – and I have 3 small children. Most healthcare service providers, when I dug myself out of the pit of bills that I encountered a month or 2 later, were willing to give a discount if I had contacted them within a few weeks of the incident. This was impossible for me as my recovery was much more involved and difficult than I had known it would be.

    Healthcare sharing is a great idea for those who have a lot of time to devote to making phone calls to the multiple service providers who will have to assist with any sort of injury. I have decided it is worth it to me to purchase insurance so that even though the deductible is higher, there will be a company working with the healthcare providers so that I don’t have to do the great deal of footwork that is a part of any major health occurrence (surgery provider, anesthesia, hospital, ER, PT, specialist, etc). I am under a mountain of paperwork and it is overwhelming.

    Healthcare sharing is also a great idea for those with the funds to make multiple payments up front, as most providers will agree to discounts if there is payment up front or within 30 days. Impossible for some families, such as ourselves.

  34. Kandis says:

    My husband and I have 5 children and we are looking into Liberty Health Share but have some reservations. The unshared amount we would need to pay as a family before we could get any shared contribution is $1500.00, is that per person or per family? And I’m also concerned about Doctors offices not having any clue what I’m talking about if I go in and show them my card. Will I always have to pay out of pocket first and then be reimbursed from Liberty Health Share?

    • says:

      I’m not certain whether that’s per-person or per-family, likewise I’m not sure regarding the pre-payment – you might want to call them and ask.

    • FraL says:

      I would call Liberty and ask them. I would also start talking to doctors offices before I signed up. The doctors offices can be real primadonnas.

    • Beverly Ward says:

      Kandis, you will pay $1500.00 as a family before Liberty will pay anything. That can be accumulated from one person or all 7 of you. My husband never goes to the doctor but when I go I have to pay my $500 and his before Liberty pays.

      • Martijn says:

        Yes look into CHM or Medi-share. I personally have Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM). They are awesome. They offer plans starting at $45 go up to $150 for the gold plan. The gold plan has a maximum of $500 out of pocket expenses and they will be waived if you can show that you got self-pay discount (which is easy to do).
        I went to the ER last December $4K in bills, when I told them I am out of pocket they told me the flat rate is $450. Because I could show the bill was reduced to $450 (so $3,500 discount) I ended up paying nothing at all out of pocket (ok I had to pay the $450 up front).

        Here is a great website what compares CHM to Commercial and other Christian ministries

        Hope this helps. Have a blessed day!

        • Chinotto says:

          Do CHM contact your church/pastor when you submit your bills? Do they need a pastor approval?

          • Sean Parnell says:

            I believe CHM takes people on the “honor system,” Medi-Share and Samaritan request letters from your pastor, and Liberty and Altrua have no requirement that people attend church.

        • Tracy says:

          Do you have to apply for medicaid before CHM will pay for any bills? I called them direct and they said no, that we just had to apply for any benefits at the hospital that were available. I’m not seeing any reviews where they said they had to apply for medicaid before CHM would pay.

          • Sean Parnell says:

            I have never heard of any of the ministries requiring Medicaid enrollment, that would kind of defeat the whole purpose of them.

    • Martijn says:


      I have Christian Healthcare myself.
      We have a total monthly share of $450 for their gold plan (only 3 members in the household have to pay).
      The ‘deductibe’ / max out of pocket expenses would be $500 per year, per person.
      Now if you negotiate discount more than $500 they will WAVE THE $500!

      This really works! Yes you have to setup a payment plan with minimum amounts until they reimburse you.

      I have had two medical events. One our baby was born in January of this year. Christian healthcare paid every single penny of all medical bills (including medication my wife had to take during pregnancy). I didn’t had to pay the $500 out of pocket expenses because I had discount (way) over $500. It’s amazing how CHM works!

      Then earlier this year I had a kidney stone, went to the ER and went to Urologist. Again everything from A to Z was paid for as I had discount over $500.

      So I had no ‘deductible/out-of pocket expenses for both medical events. CHM is great!

      I found a great deal of information and very easy to read explanation on it compares alternative health sharing ‘insurances’.

  35. Randy Cox says:

    This is great. It’s hard to find health sharing ministry members sharing their experiences all in one spot. Pricing Healthcare has created a page listing each of the ministries currently in operations, with some links to reviews, articles, etc. at Hope it’s useful for self-pay patients and others coming to this site.

  36. Peggy Brassie says:

    Thanks to Sean and all the other people who sent in their comments, stories, and links. All have been very helpful. My husband has retired, and will go on Medicare soon. That leaves my daughter, 23, and me, 59 without any coverage. We both work part-time. I am encouraged by all I have read here, positive and negative. Since I have always had company-paid insurance through my husband’s job, I am a novice at this. How do I go about requesting self-pay discounts at pharmacies and doctors’ offices? Do I just tell them that I am self-pay? We get my daughter’s meds at Wal-Mart. How do they treat self-paying customers?

    • Sean Parnell says:

      Just tell them you’re self-pay and ask for their best price – if they don’t know what you’re talking about, probably want to keep looking. Some doctors are great with self-pay, some, not so much.

  37. Donna Gore says:

    You should know “Medical Cost Sharing” which is a .com is apparently TOTALLY FRAUDULENT! We are now out $3990.00. No medical bill paid. We called the local news outlet in St. Joseph, Missouri have told us the address listed for them is a defunct bar. All this since we filled a claim after 7 months of paying them.

  38. Robin says: is associated with Liberty health share. I hope that this is not the company which Donna is refering to since I just applied to Liberty Health Share…..

    • Robin says:

      OK. I just found a site which is which is different from Looks like the two are not the same. Thank goodness! It does rile me that this “look alike” company has “Christian Medical Cost Sharing” plastered at the top of its webpage with a nicely dressed man with a smile on his face offering a video. Leave it to scam artists to take advantage of people who think they are doing the right thing. This company claims to be a 501c3. If they really are not, then Donna might be able to pursue legal action against them. Donna, I hope that you are able to get some of your money back.

      • CDO says:

        TOTAL SCAM! – “Incompetence, untrustworthiness, financial irresponsibility in the conduct of business.”

        MCS Medical Cost Sharing

        The founder of MCS Medical Cost Sharing, Inc., Craig A. Reynolds, had his insurance LICENSE REVOKED in TWO STATES! Missouri & Kansas.

        In the Matter of the Kansas Nonresident Insurance Agent’s License of CRAIG A. REYNOLDS (“Respondent”)
        Docket No. 4000 – SO NPN 247968

        “The Commissioner finds, based on the facts that Respondent has demonstrated incompetence, untrustworthiness, or financial
        irresponsibility in the conduct of business. Based on the Respondent’s forgery and submission of bank information,
        the Commissioner concludes that sufficient grounds exist for the revocation of Respondent’s insurance agent’s license pursuant to K.S.A. 40-4909(b) because such license is not properly serving the interests of the insurer and the insurable interests of the public.”


  39. Krys says:

    I see this is an old thread however hopefully someone here will be able to help with this. My husband, our son & myself are all on Adderall for ADD. I’m assuming I will have to pay out of pocket for this medication every month if I go with on of these cost- sharing ministries? Also birth control I’m assuming is out of the question?

    Finally, mental health coverage in general. My husband is bipolar & sees a therapist as well as a psychologist regularly. I can’t find anything on these websites stating anything about mental health coverage.

    Any insight is helpful!

    • elena says:

      Hello Krys, I have not joined a health sharing plan yet but probably will soon. But I’ve been reading the fine print of many of them and from what I’ve read I haven’t found any that cover mental health at all. I find this really unfortunate as mental health is such an important part of one’s overall health. One of our children finds great benefit in seeing a counselor and I am so thankful that we have been able to afford it, but often feel sad because I know there must be so many other people out there that would benefit greatly from these services that simply can’t afford it.

      I’d be interested to know if you or anyone else out there has found any health sharing plans that cover mental health.

      Wishing all the best to you and your family, Krys and I hope you find something that works for you.

  40. Dom C. says:


    Like Kris, I am seriously considering a cost sharing plan. My premiums, deductibles and co-pays are through the roof, and covered services are shrinking.

    I am 64, and my wife is 63.

    Are there any recent experiences with these organizations?

    Thank You

    • Martijn says:

      Hello Kris,

      I am a member of CHM – Christian Healthcare Ministries. I had 3 claims in the year 2016: My wife had her baby, and I was in the ER 2 times with kidney stones.
      I can tell you that CHM really works. Everything (doctors visits, follow ups, testing, ER, delivery, medication) was covered from A-Z!
      My personal responsibility got waived each time because I was able to get self-pay discount larger than my personal responsibility. Therefore, in the end I got fully reimbursed for the 3 medical events. In the end I paid $0.00 which is awesome!

      Go to this website and compare health alternatives like Medi-share and CHM. There is a really nice overview and it will answer most of the questions you might have. they are on Facebook too if you want to look them up that way but the website has a better overview on everything.

      Just to share my experience with you. Have a blessed day!

      • Martijn says:

        PS. CHM will work as secondairy to Medicare. When you get Medicare you can keep CHM and they will pay your 20% copay. I believe you ‘deductible’ will be waived this way.

  41. angela Marks says:

    I am so glad that I found this website and all of your reviews. THANK YOU all for sharing you experiences. My husband and I have been looking for healthcare coverage and have become so frustrated with the whole and Obamacare ordeal….. After reviewing all of the websites and all of your reviews/comments, I think that Christian Healthcare Ministries is the right fit for us. Seems the most affordable and logical.


  42. Martijn says:

    Christian Healthcare Ministries is GREAT! I had to use them 3 times and all 3 times they have paid, waiving my deductible of $500 every single time.

    What some people don’t understand is that Christian Healthcare is not insurance therefor medical facilities, like hospitals, will not recognize them nor know what to do with them.

    However, it’s very simple. Just say that you are a “Self Pay Patient”.
    In that case most hospitals have self-pay rates setup, significantly lower than the regular “insurance” pricing. So from here you set up a payment plan, submit your bill(s) to Christian Healthcare and they will reimburse you (less your deductible, if any – your deductible can be $0.00 if your bill shows you get (self-pay) discount. It takes 4-6 weeks before you get the check in the mail.

    I had to go to the ER on 2 occasions, due to kidney stones. The ER visit, the follow up with the urologist and the tests they performed in the ER (and urologist test) was covered in full because in the hospital I stated I was Self-Pay, so my bill got cut in half. Therefor I had no co-pay with Christian Healthcare Ministries.

    Last year we had our baby born. The hospital bill, doctor’s bills, tests, medication it was ALL covered in full, because I obtained self-pay discount. Sure I had to setup a payment plan and wait 6 or maybe even 7 weeks, but every single penny was paid back to me by Christian Healthcare.

    As long as you understand the guide lines, which are simple and reasonable, you are in good shape with Christian Healthcare Ministries.

    There is also this website which compares Christian Healthcare Ministries and has some great explanation how everything works. It’s

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