Christian Healthcare Ministries as an Alternative to Traditional Insurance

Christian Healthcare Ministries

Referral # 112373

A few years ago I wrote briefly about Christian Healthcare Ministries and how much we appreciated all they had done for us during Emily’s illness and subsequent death.

Today, I want to tell you a little more about how this Christian Cost-Share ministry works.  Please note, this information is specific to Christian Healthcare Ministries.  I have no experience with any other cost-share program.  We have been with CHM since 2006.  They have seen us through major medical bills and the death of our daughter, 4 live births (including a c-section) and 2 miscarriages, as well as ER visits, blood tests, and a heart echo.  While I do not claim to be an expert, I do feel like I can speak to how we personally handle using this kind of program.  Any specific questions you have will need to be asked of the helpful people at Christian Healthcare Ministries

CHMLogo600x131

 Referral # 112373

No matter how many people are in your family, you never pay for more than 3 UNITS of coverage.  Each unit has a specific level – bronze, silver, gold.  You can mix and match these.  I am on gold because I am still of child-bearing age and we birth in a hospital.  Everyone else is on silver.  We pay $320 a month for coverage for all 9 of us.  (There is catastrophic coverage available through a program called Brother’s Keeper.)

Every month we pay in to an account that is then divided up amongst the needs of others in the program.  We have the opportunity to pray for others and give more than our allotted amount.

When we have medical bills of our own, here is how we handle them:

1.  We tell the hospital/doctor that we are self-pay.   Christian Healthcare Ministries is NOT insurance.  We are the ones responsible for our bills.  You do not want to tell hospitals/doctors that this is insurance because it cannot be filed as such.

2.  You try to work to reduce your bills.  We ask for discounts for being self-pay (many offices have significant discounts available).  If we can get a significant discount for paying some up front, we will do that.  CHM will also work with you to get your payment quickly if you need to make a lump sum payment to get a large discount.  Any discount you get goes toward your “personal responsibility”.  More often than not, you reach this amount without ever paying a cent.

One thing to remember here is that medical markup is HUGE.  Sometimes hospitals mark up services/supplies as much as 700%!  You are NOT asking for anything that the insurance companies are not already receiving.  You CAN negotiate as an individual!

3.  Set up payments if need be.  Some offices will put your bill on hold knowing you will be paying within a few months, but others will need to have a payment plan in place.  We always ask to pay the least amount possible just to keep everyone happy until the shared amount comes from CHM, and then we pay the entire bill off.

4.  Keep a file for each incident with careful records.  I have an envelope for each medical incident we incur.  I label them and then put every bill, notification, etc in that envelope.  I’ll explain more about how we notate these bills here in a moment…

5.  Submit bills to CHM for sharing.  For every incident, you will need to fill out some general information for CHM to start processing bills.  Those papers can be found here.  As soon as you have an itemized billing from the incident, you should make a copy and submit it for sharing.  You DO NOT have to wait until you have every bill from the incident in hand before submitting the incident.  As you receive bills, simply send them in as Add-Ons.

6.  Make notes and file.  Every bill that comes, I make notes on.  I write Submit to CHM if I am needing to copy and send.  Once a bill is sent, I put a checkmark beside that notation and mark the date sent.  I write any payment plans on the bill, I make note of the names of people I’ve spoken with about the bill and the date I spoke with them.  I also note any discounts received.

7.  When payment is received, pay off bills as needed.  Checks from CHM are made out to you.  If you have already paid the bill in full, then you simply pay yourself back.  If you have an outstanding bill, you deposit the check and pay off the bill from your own account.  Keep track as you go with your file of bills.

When we first joined Christian Healthcare Ministries 7 years ago, payment took about 7 months.  There are so many people with CHM now that payment is most often received within 3 months!

We tell everyone about CHM because it has been such a great way to handle medical costs without paying into a system that encourages sickness and immoral decisions.  This type of program may not be for everyone, but if you think it might be for you, I’d encourage you to get a Free Information Packet.  And if you choose to go with Christian Healthcare Ministries, I’d be grateful if you would use our referral number

112373

If someone we refer joins CHM, after 3 months, we receive a free month!

And in case you were curious, CHM does qualify as an eligible option under the Affordable Care Act.  I really do hope you will take a serious look at cost-shares as a way to handle your healthcare if you find yourself wanting or needing something besides traditional insurance.

51 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

51 thoughts on “Christian Healthcare Ministries as an Alternative to Traditional Insurance

  1. My husband is a pastor and the church is considering requiring us to get our own insurance. Right now, we aren’t sure which way to turn. I would like to know how much you have spent out of pocket over those 7 years…or even an average out of pocket amou for a year. Not how much you paid for bils and was then reimbursed, but how much did you pay that was never reimbursed? Thanks.

    • Our numbers would be quite skewed since we took a leap of faith in the middle of a pregnancy and chose to pay for it out of pocket rather than continue on with traditional insurance. I imagine you could contact CHM and they could give you a better estimate of what members pay out of pocket on the average.

  2. So glad that you all have been blessed by a health sharing ministry! We are members of Samaritan Ministries, which works in a similar way. We have been blessed tremendously and would not return to traditional insurance unless specifically led by the Lord (which is very doubtful!!). Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi Kelly and Amy! I am debating between these two ministries for our family. I really like how Samaritan lets you send letters to encourage other family members. Is the coverage about the same between the two? Do either of you know?

      • We are members with CHM as well. Every month they send you the name and address of another participant and their prayer need so you can pray for them and send them a note if you wish. I don’t know about the coverage between the two ministries, but my husband’s employer switched from BCBS to CHM about 1.5 years ago. I think of the 3 medical sharing groups, CHM is the only one that will cover pre-existing conditions.

      • I could be wrong, but I think Samaritan has a cap on how much they will pay – I think 300,000? CHM’s coverage is much larger.

        • Samaritan’s standard membership shares up to $250,000 per incident vs $125,000 per incident with CHMinistries. For catastrophic incidents Samaritan’s add-on program is called Saved to Share which shares costs above $250k. CHMinistries add-on program is called Brother’s Keeper to share the incidents above the $125k. Both ministries have a standard level, and an optional add-on program. Both are good programs. My website http://www.samaritanministriesreview.com gives more info about it (and also some about CHMinistries). I do really like both of them. I encourage everyone to consider a health care sharing ministry.

  3. I’ve not heard of this cost share program. Do you know anything about how they handle pre-existing conditions? We can’t do the other cost shares due to many pre-existing conditions and the bills, possible emergencies, etc that they cause.

      • With PPACA becoming law, pre-existing is no longer lawful for any insurance carrier. Now they have a right to deny converge for pre-existing, but they will not PPACA approved.

        • CHM and all other cost sharing Ministries that have been mentioned here are not insurance, nor do they brand themselves as such. They are groups of like minded people (in this case, Christians sharing Biblical beliefs and following a Christian lifestyle) who voluntarily agree to carry each other’s burdens, sharing the costs of each other’s medical bills. Members also receive help with their own eligible medical bills as and when they arise. They are perfectly legal and exempt from the PPACA mandate: meaning members of the groups do not have to pay the tax penalty if they do not have an Obamacare plan. The exemption is detailed on pages 107 and 128 of the ACA law.
          Members of these groups are considered self paying patients for billing purposes, as none of these cost sharing groups are traditional insurance. As such, they are not obligated to follow the ACA requirements and they still have the right to impose stricter rules on what kinds of bills they do and don’t share (for example, abortion, DUI accidents, maternity outside of wedlock and anything that opposes Christian beliefs are not eligible for sharing, as opposed to traditional insurance companies who have no other choice but to cover them). As for pre existing conditions, each Ministry has their own policies, but based on my research, they all cover them one way or another, usually after a waiting period.

  4. I really like their program. My only complaint is that you have to wait a long time before you can submit a pregnancy claim as a new customer.

    • Maternity: If a member joins CHM while she is pregnant, bills for that pregnancy cannot be shared through the regular CHM sharing program or through the Prayer Page. Members must have a due date for delivery at least 300 days after joining CHM for bills to be eligible for sharing. Please note: Our Gold participation level offers a generous maternity program. Silver and Bronze exclude most maternity costs. To learn more about maternity, visit our maternity page.

      Some might need to know that. The only health share that will assist if you get pregnant before joining is Samaritan, and even theirs is limited.

      • Also worth noting that this is the only one we’ve found that will let you share per-existing things such as high blood pressure. I think that’s awesome.

        • With PPACA no insurance can deny any coverge for pre-existing. I would think that would include pregnancy. That does include hypertension though!

  5. We are members of Samaritan Ministries, much like the one you listed. We have had them for almost 14 year, and have never regretted it. It is such a blessing to know that my money is not being used to support things we do not find biblically correct. If anyone has questions on Samaritan I would love to help them. Tschilling@centurytel.net

    • And I can’t support something by having others Christians paying my medical bills. That’s debt. Much like the one Amy has, waiting for the money to come in months later? Carrying a balance? Everyone is against credit card debt, but where’s the outcry for this??

      • Not sure exactly what you are trying to say, but it is not a burden to those in the group. They know and expect the amount they pay just like if it was you insurance payment. As for debt, with Samaritan it is your chose when you pay. You can wait and negotiate with the bill senders, and wait till you get the checks, or pay what you can as time goes, or pay all in full at once if you can. The bill senders get the money faster than traditional insurance which can take 3-6 months to pay the reduced rates.

      • Danielle b,
        This is no different to what people who have a high deductible plan with traditional insurance have to do when they incur a high medical bill before meeting their deductible: more often than not, they set up a payment plan with the provider and pay in installments. Until the bill is fully paid off, they are technically in debt. Also, the patient is still liable for any medical expenses if for whatever reason their insurance declines to cover a bill, and you could argue that every patient is in debt until a bill has been paid off (even if an insurance carrier has promised to cover it). Plus everything Teresa said. You don’t have to carry a balance – you can pay off a bill all at once if you’re able to, or you can make full payments and not just minimum payments, while waiting for reimbursement from your Ministry. I believe though that it is generally advised that you don’t pay off a bill upfront and that you set up a payment plan instead, as often times, a Ministry is able to negotiate and get further discounts on your bills, which is a win-win for everyone. In CHM’s case (not sure about other Ministries), any bill reduction is first applied towards your personal responsibility amount (your deductible if you like), so it is often the case that you end up paying nothing out of pocket, essentially having your ‘deductible’ waived. I have yet to see a traditional insurance carrier do that.

  6. Hello. I am 9 weeks pregnant and I like the sound of not using traditional Insurance.y concern is giving birth in a hospital would be outrageous for money, plus all the doctor visits? I right, how did this work out for you while pregnant. Is much of it reimbursed? Thank you

    • Sometimes you do need to make payments to start with, but then CHM reimburses. So far, most hospitals and doctors have worked with us to keep payments low until we are fully reimbursed.

  7. I am curious how this will work now since you say you ask to work to get your bills lowered and I read somewhere that with ACA hospitals and Drs cannot do this anymore to encourage people to sign up for their healthcare. Just a thought since we were going to do this instead of healthcare since we can no longer afford it.

  8. Glad to hear you are using CHM. They are located right in our area. Our friends had recently told us about them, so we will need to use their name if we join. Thanks for telling so many about it through your blog! It is a good company, and I’m sure many will join because of your efforts here! Thanks!

  9. I just joined CHM in November but I thought we were actually supposed to submit our card and let the doctor/provider send the bills directly to CHM? Is this not the case? I thought that CHM was under a PPO and so does get discounts (at least if I understood the representative correctly).

  10. Right now I can only afford the bronze level. I was wondering once we can afford a little more can you change your participation level?

    Thanks

  11. We just got our information packet in the mail today. I have been reading for the last two hours and writing down questions. This is looking like a great prospect for us. Thank you for telling us about this. I have been researching my eyeballs out. :-) Obviously each person needs to do their own research and see if it is something they are comfortable doing but I personally think that it is awesome. Again, thank you so much for sharing.

  12. I have been researching the 3 main Christian medical sharing companies. My main concern is, with having kids, not having any of the regular doctor’s visits, even well child appointments, covered. Do you have to pay those completely out of pocket? It sounds great for emergencies and large events, but like it could add up with just regular times of going to the doctor. Also, do you have to find alternative forms of birth control when you are not trying to have a baby? I am currently using the mini pill while nursing, and the one good thing about ObamaCare, is that it is fully covered. I looked and saw that it would have cost me $41 without insurance. These are just a few of my concerns with switching to sharing rather than insurance.

  13. Thank you for this Amy! We have been considering the different sharing options for quite a few months and I think we are ready to take the leap and join CHM! I will be using your referral number, so hopefully that helps.
    I can ask CHM if you are unsure, but I was wondering a few things specifically about maternity benefits. Has it been your experience that lab fees are covered? I believe our hospital bills these separate from the “bundle” cost of the doctor, delivery and hospital stay. They also bill separate for your newborn’s time in the hospital. Do you know how newborn coverage works?
    This has been an answer to many desperate prayers! Thank you!

  14. I am just signing my husband and I up for CHM at this very moment. I decided to look to see if anyone had a review about them that way I could put someone down in the referral part so they could get some credit. Your site came up first. Thank you for the little added comfort of your review and experience with them. I will be putting you down your referral number.

  15. CHM looks GREAT! Our only concern is what if we have MAJOR expenses (my brother-in-law just incurred over $1M in hospital bills from a motorcycle accident). There is no guaranty CHM will come to the table. Are there statistics on how often bill payment is denied by CHM?

    • I would call CHM and talk to a representative. From personal experience, they did pay a very large bill from our daughter’s prolonged illness. There is a program you can participate in with CHM called Brother’s Keeper that is for catastrophic events. And people regularly write in asking for above and beyond donations for major medical.

  16. Amy,
    I’ve been checking out CHMinistries, and have seen conflicting information about sharing and personal responsibility.Since I came across yours tei and you’ve had experience with them, I’d like to see if you can clarify.

    Some of the info looks like the personal responsibility is $500 per unit per year (which is what the employee told me on the phone as well), other info looks like $500 per incident, with an unlimited number of incidents per year. What has been your experience?

    Thank you for your input.