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Many healthcare cost sharing programs have similar characteristics and payment structures. For one, members have to be professed, practicing Christians who live according to Biblical principles, as cost sharing by law is a religious exemption from the health insurance mandate.

But there are differences between different organizations offering medical cost sharing. Exploring the differences is important to better understand the best option for you, and to understand cost sharing in general.


Liberty Direct (libertydirect.org)

Costs

Individuals: Your monthly responsibility is $149 if you’re under 30, $199 if you’re over 30, and the your annual unshared amount for expenses is $500.

Couples: Your monthly responsibility is $249 if the youngest spouse is under 30, $299 if over 30, and the your annual unshared amount for expenses is $1,000.

Families: Your monthly responsibility is $399 if the youngest spouse is under 30, $449 if over 30, and the your annual unshared amount for expenses is $1,500.

Annual membership fee: $125 the first year, $75 each year after that.

Members have agreed to not share a first dollar amount together when medical expenses arise. The annual unshared amount is $500 for single, $1000 for a couple and $1500 for a family.

The maximum amount that you can receive through Liberty Direct members is $1 million per incident.

Joining a Direct Primary Care Practice (DPC) with Liberty Direct

Liberty Direct helps pay the monthly DPC membership fee. The monthly stipend is $60 for individuals, $80 for couples and $100 for families.

Pre-Existing Conditions / Provisional Membership

Expenses related to designated pre-existing conditions are not covered for the first 12 months. Pre-existing conditions are any conditions that have evidenced symptoms in the past 24 months. Members with pre-existing conditions are not eligible for receiving shared funds for the first year. They are eligible for $25,000 the next year, and $50,000 the year after that. From the fourth year on, the condition is no longer considered pre-existing.

Some individuals may not qualify due to past or present medical conditions. There are Provisional Memberships available for people with certain conditions. These members are asked to pay a higher monthly share account, and participate in a wellness program.

Dental / Vision

Dental and vision healthcare is not covered by Liberty Direct, but a third-party discount program is offered.

Healthy Lifestyle Requirement

• Abstain from tobacco in any form.
• Follow Biblical teachings on the use or abuse of alcohol.
• Don’t abuse prescription drugs.
• Don’t use illegal drugs.
• Exercise regularly and eat healthy foods.

How Do You Pay for Medical Expenses With a Medical Cost Sharing Account?

Tell your doctor that you are self-pay, but that you are part of a community that shares healthcare expenses. Patients can explain that bills should be sent either electronically or by mail as directed on their membership card. Explain that reimbursement will come from the funds shared to you from the group in about 30 days.

Members receive an on-line secure funds exchange account called a “Sharebox.” Each month you log on to the member site, receive your monthly assignment and transfer your monthly share amount directly to another member’s secure ShareBox. When you have medical expenses, other members will send funds to your ShareBox.

Christian Healthcare Ministries (chministries.org)

Some facts:
• The first faith-based cost-sharing ministry, started more than 30 years ago.
• More than $1 billion in shared costs to date.
• Currently about 140,000 members, and growing fast.
• CHM has worked with more than 40,000 healthcare providers nationwide.

Membership Costs

There are three levels of membership: gold, silver and bronze. Gold members pay $150 per person, have a $500 personal responsibility before sharing occurs, and can receive up to $125,000 in cost sharing per incident. Silver members have a $1,000 personal responsibility, and bronze members $5,000.

Pre-Existing Conditions

CHM discerns between those in “active” treatment of their condition and those in “maintenance” treatment. Bills for those actively undergoing treatment cannot be shared. Maintenance treatment is eligible for cost sharing.

For those with qualifying pre-existing conditions, in the first year they are eligible for sharing up to $15,000. The second year the amount raises to $25,000, the third year $50,000, and after that the condition is no longer considered pre-existing.

Maternity Care

CHM gold members receive cost sharing benefits for pre-natal care, hospital delivery, midwife and post-natal care. Complications are also covered.

How You Receive Funds

CHM receives your bills, reviews them for discounts and sends you a check for the needed amount. The process takes 90-120 days.

Medi-Share (mychristiancare.org/Medi-Share)

Some facts:
• Established in 1993, administered by Christian Care Ministry.
• More than $1.1 billion shared.
• About 100,000 members.

Costs

There are actually seven different options for membership with Medi-Share, ranging from a personal responsibility of $500 to $10,000, and monthly dues vary accordingly, similar to Christian Healthcare Ministries. Age is also an important factor in monthly costs.

There is incentive to live a healthy lifestyle. Those who meet certain qualifications for lower blood pressure, waist measurements and BMI are eligible to save up to 20% on their monthly sharing costs.

Seniors and Disability

Medi-Share offers a program for seniors on Medicare, with a personal responsibility of $1,250. A disability program called Manna can replace up to 80 percent of a disabled member’s lost income for up to one year.

Provider Fees

Members are always responsible to pay $35 for office and hospital visits and $135 for emergency room visits, even if their personal responsibility amount has been met.

Prescription Drugs

Limited to six months of treatment, prescription drug costs are eligible to be shared.

Paying for Care with Medi-Share

Christian Care Ministry reviews the bills to negotiate discounts and determine if the bill is eligible for sharing. If eligible, funds actually come directly from other members to pay for expenses.