Alternatives to Obamacare: Comparing Samaritan Ministries, Medi-Share, and Christian Healthcare Ministries

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For more information about how Christian Healthcare Share Ministries work and WHY they are better than traditional insurance under Obamacare, make sure to see yesterday’s post. I think that all three of the major CHSM’s each have different strengths that will satisfy the needs of their individual members which is what I’m going to attempt to make simpler for you today.

 

COMPARING THE MOST POPULAR CHRISTIAN HEALTHCARE SHARE MINISTRIES:

Update 8/1/15: If you are interested in seeing how to utilize Samaritan Ministries when you have a medical need, specifically a maternity/ home birth need (similar to a “claim” in the insurance world,) see my latest post: My Home Birth Experience with Samaritan Ministries.

Update 12/29/14: Please know that the prices on this post may have changed since its original posting. I will note updates when they occur, but please check with the individual ministries regarding current pricing. Also check out my update on one year of membership with Samaritan Ministries HERE.

 

Medi-Share

Medi-Share is by far the most heavily advertised of the three largest CHSM’s. My take on Medi-Share is that it is a great ministry for people who want a more “hands off” approach in dealing with their medical decisions. Unlike the other two ministries, they negotiate your medical bills for you and work directly with your doctor which they prefer to be one of their “In-Network” providers. There is also a maximum “out of pocket” Annual Household Portion (for all total bills,) which may help some feel safer about monstrous medical disasters.

Office visits to their In-Network doctors are $35 and emergency room visits are $135. They also have no maximum amount that can be shared, and are slightly more lenient on preexisting conditions. Their application fee is $125 upon joining. They have a $1 million cap on your family’s medical bills.

The main reason we chose not to go with Medi-Share had to do greatly with their policy on alternative medicine and preference for In-Network, conventional doctors. They will only cover doctors who are licensed by the American Medical Association (AMA) and DO NOT cover any alternative cancer therapy or naturopaths, homeopaths, etc.

My other reason was simply cost. Medi-Share works on a system more like a high deductible insurance plan where you pay a certain amount of your choice called the “Annual Yearly Portion” FIRST before you can publish a need for reimbursement. This does NOT include office visits to their In-Network doctors or emergency room visits which are separate.

The lowest “Annual Yearly Portion” amount that my family was eligible for was $1,250 a year (comparable to a $1,250 year deductible in the insurance world for the whole family.) This choice would have required me to pay $720 a month for my family of four PLUS $1,250 in out of pocket expenses before we get any coverage for events that required more than an “In-network” doctor or emergency room visit. They do have a health incentive if you meet certain criteria for a 20% reduction in your monthly share. You can get a quote for Medi-Share’s costs HERE and read their guidelines HERE.

Another Medi-Share review to check out HERE with excellent charts and comparisons.

 

CHMpic

Christian Healthcare Ministries is different from the other two ministries in that it offers a variety of membership levels to choose from depending on how much coverage you want. You can even choose different levels for different family members, which is a HUGE perk and gives each family plenty of options.

Their GOLD package is $150 monthly per person (unit) and includes maternity coverage (and will even cover home births) All medical bills are shared (paid) after a $500 TOTAL personal contribution per year.

Their Silver package is $85 per person (unit) per month and includes significantly less benefits than the gold with a$1,000 personal responsibility per unit AND per incident. (With the Gold plan you only pay $500 per year TOTAL.)

The Bronze package is $45 a month per person (unit) with a $5,000 personal responsibility per unit, per incident and the same reduced benefits as the Silver plan. This is ideal for someone just looking or minimal coverage and catastrophic coverage and also satisfies the Obamacare mandate as a bonus.

The “Unit” system with CHM is a little difficult to understand at first, but it works this way so families can pick and choose individual plans for each member of the family. Any “units” (people) after 3 is NOT an additional charge, meaning a family of 3 people, 5, 10, 0r even 20 people would still be considered “3 units.”

There is no application or annual fee for CHM. They have a “Prayer Page” where members can give more to situations that don’t meet the guidelines for sharing such as preexisting conditions. There is a $125,000 share limit per incident, but you can sign up for their “Brother’s Keeper” program ($40 annual fee and an estimated $25 quarterly in addition to monthly share,) you get up to $1 million in coverage per illness.

The ONLY hard reason we did not go with Christian Healthcare Ministries was because they didn’t cover alternative physicians or therapies. I actually got to meet some of their representatives at the Catalyst Conference here in Atlanta and really enjoyed my talk with them. They didn’t pressure me to join and authentically shared how they really loved the ministry and their job with them.

I haven’t been able to find CHM’s guidelines online, but you can request more information at their website: CHMinistries.org. You can see their plans HERE.

 

 

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Samaritan Ministries made our decision simple. I fell in love with their simplistic, personable, no-nonsense approach to truly bearing each others burdens. There was no “red tape” or complicated guidelines. I liked their transparency and I know this might sound weird to some of you, but I could feel their trust and love for Jesus through their clear and uncomplicated policies.

***I have updated on my two year experience with Samaritan Ministries in my blog post on home birth and maternity “sharing” HERE.

This is how Samaritan Ministries works:

1. You join Samaritan Ministries by filling out an application (including approval from a church leader and acknowledgement of faith) along with the $200 application fee and first month’s “share” of $220 for one person, $305 for single-parent families, $400 for a married couple, or $495 for a family of 3 or more.  (updated in October, 2016) (See information about all plans.)

2. The first 3 months of your new membership, you’ll send your monthly share directly to the SM headquarters. Each month after that, you will mail your “share” (like an insurance premium) to a fellow member who has a health care “need” (like an insurance claim,) or a medical bill to pay. You receive this information through a letter which lists their address and general condition that you can pray for. (So far I have sent my share and prayed for a man having intestinal problems and a woman with kidney stones.)

3. Also included on this letter is a “Special Prayer Need” request from families who have medical expenses not covered under the SM guidelines such as dental expenses and preexisting conditions. You are encouraged to send a note of encouragement to these families and an extra amount of money if you are able.

When you need a medical bill paid:

1. When you have a medical bill to pay, you request a Need Processing Form from the SM office and return it completed along with the bills you need to pay.

Note: Medical needs under $300 are not publishable. These are considered to be feasible and should be planned for in the household budget. For bills beyond $300, it is important to know that you do NOT have to pay the first $300 of these bills if you ask for discounts from your doctor due to paying up front in cash. (You can see an example of how I did this HERE.) SM has an entire department dedicated to helping you do this and save the ministry money. Also- there is a three time limit on your $300 personal responsibility per family. After three incidents, the $300 is waived for any future incidents.

2. Within 60 days (on average), you will begin receiving Shares from other Samaritan Ministries members and will keep a checklist provided to you by the ministry to ensure you receive all shares assigned to you to pay your medical bill.

This may seem overly simple and old-school, but I just love how this works and feel so good each time we mail our check. I can’t say I ever felt this way about my monthly insurance bill!

A few other important points about Samaritan Ministries…

  • SM has JUST rolled out an online system option to begin paying your “Shares” to others online. We are only in our second or third month of having this option, but I can already say it was a flawless transition in contrast to Obamacare rollout. 🙂
  • I have heard from several people that there is faster processing of Needs (medical claims) with Samaritan Ministries due to direct sharing instead of sending it to the headquarters where they redistribute like with the other two ministries.
  • If you negotiate your bills down for a price reduction (they have a department to help you with this process,) the money you save actually gets taken out of your $300 per incident responsibility, leaving you with less or no money to pay for your medical care.
  • Standard coverage under SM is $250,000 per family and you can sign up for additional coverage by opting to “set aside” one month’s share and sending it when prompted to someone who has a need over $250,000. This is called Save to Share and you may or may not have to send that money depending on if they need you to. It has a $15 yearly fee to join plus the Share amount you put aside.
  • Their membership admin fee is $200 plus your monthly share (which is what you pay every month thereafter.)

Samaritan Ministries and Alternative Cancer Therapy:

The strongest pull for Samaritan Ministries came from their friendliness towards alternative medicine and ALTERNATIVE CANCER THERAPIES. You need to call ahead to submit information regarding the costs of the alternative treatment versus the cost of the conventional and you can submit all of your bills for reimbursement. This is what they state in their Guidelines (pg. 24-25):

Regarding Alternative Cancer Treatment and Other Alternative Treatment:

“Alternative Medical Practices (or non- conventional treatments)— An “alternative medical practice” or “treatment” is a treat- ment proposed for a condition diagnosed by a licensed, medical doctor, but not prescribed by the member’s doctor and not otherwise listed in the Guidelines as a publishable need.

Alternative treatments are published with prior written approval from Samaritan Ministries. Approval is based upon factors such as the less invasive nature of the proposed treat- ment, demonstration that such treatment will prevent more costly conventional treatments, consistency of the treatment with what a medical doctor would prescribe for illness or injury, and the member’s acceptance of appropriate preconditions for publishing the expenses. An example of a treatment that may be an alternative, but which has been published with prior written approval by SMI: The use of vitamin B-17 for the treatment of cancer.”

****With Samaritan Ministries, cancer IS considered a preexisting condition and you must be in remission 7 YEARS from diagnosis in order to be covered for the same cancer type again. If you are diagnosed with a different form of cancer, then it is not considered preexisting.***

Regarding Naturopathy:

“Naturopathic procedures, adjustments, manipulations, ultrasound, and similar treatments will be treated as “Alternative Medical Practices” (Section VIII.B.1). However, medical treatments and prescriptions provided by a licensed Doctor of Naturopathy that meet all other requirements will be publishable.”

 

OTHER EXCELLENT RESOURCES TO COMPARE CHRISTIAN HEALTHCARE SHARE MINISTRIES:

http://samaritanministries.info/samaritan-ministries-vs-christian-healthcare-ministries/

http://www.cchfreedom.org/word/Health_Care_Sharing_Ministry_Comparison.pdf

 

I hope you find this helpful in your decision making! If after reading this post, you choose Samaritan Ministries for your family, let them know Cortney Campbell at GreenDrinkDiaries.com sent you. (:

***I learned a whole lot through this rigorous research process on Christian Healthcare Share Ministries, but if you believe you find a mistake in my research, please kindly let me know in the comments section of what that might be. I will gladly correct my post and give you the credit. 🙂 ***

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142 thoughts on “Alternatives to Obamacare: Comparing Samaritan Ministries, Medi-Share, and Christian Healthcare Ministries

  1. hi – i have been researching these myself. wanted to find out which is correct. with christian healthcare ministries, you say the brothers keepers goes only to 1million. it looks to me that with the gold membership combined with brothers keepers, the ‘coverage’ is unlimited. and that it is the silver and bronze that are capped at 1million. it is because of the catastrophic coverage that we are considering this ministry over the others. please get back to me on which is correct about that maximum top end limit. thanks.

  2. I admire the fact that you have beaten cancer and my hat’s off for it but I do not get how come you a “God fearing” nation can be so much against so called “Obamacare”? At the same time you are so ill informed about the actual positives of a free national healthcare as the one in the UK? no one in our system is being left on the streets but we all saw what happens in your country following Michael Moore’s film. I honestly don’t get it. As a Christian myself I am deeply disturbed by the fact that the Christians in America are actually so brainwashed by the capitalist economy that they equalise any social elements supported by taxes to socialism. It is not your fault so please don’t accept it personally but I am utterly appalled. Good health to you and all your beautiful family!

    • Hi Tina- I think it is very “American” to want to minimize government involvement in our lives, including in our health care. Of course this varies from person to person here- but I find that most individuals that are knowledgeable about our country’s history would know that it was founded on the belief that the people SHOULD have the power over the government, not visa versa. The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) FORCES us to have health care (only of which the government approves), or we have to pay a tax which will get larger over the next few years, indefinitely.

      I will say that if the kind of health care I believe in (natural, holistic, preventative) was what Obamacare supported, I wouldn’t have as much of an issue with it because it makes sense to care for people’s bodies in this way. Managing symptoms with drugs is NOT health care. However, forcing people to be cared for by a government run program is not freedom. I think this quote sums my beliefs up best:

      “Every step we take towards making the State our Caretaker of our lives, by that much we move toward making the State our Master.”
      – President Dwight D. Eisenhower

      Sorry we disagree, but that’s healthy, right? (: Thankfully, in the UK- you are supported under social health care as you prefer.

      • Hi, GDD. You were so polite to the “troll”. If he really is in fact a citizen of the UK and subject to its dreadful “national health” system, he knows very well he is lying. Millions of people in the UK are routinely denied what we would consider basic care. For example, in the UK, disabled infants and elderly dementia patients are regularly starved/dehydrated to death, a la Terri Schiavo. This is something that is done on a daily basis, to save money. The public has no say in the matter. Health care decisions are made by the government with no accountability to the public, and the ONLY criteria is doing whatever is cheapest for the government. Having the government in charge of health care means that the government decides who gets treatment and who does not, who dies and who lives. It is the ultimate dream of Communists/Fascists, like the sick “comedy” fantasy film by Micheal Moore, as referenced by the troll. People like that feel threatened by successful Christian health-sharing ministries, because the control is put in the hands of God and of the individual members. To people like the UK troll, individuals do not matter. They want the government to be God. Someday, when the UK troll is in a “care home” being starved and dehydrated to death, he will want food and water more than he has wanted anything in his entire life. But, no one will do anything about his cries (without tears due to dehydration). He will die alone and in agony. Thanks for standing up for what is right. We must never submit to government tyranny. Jesus is Lord!

        • I also am not buying this story from the person from the UK. The husband of my wife’s pen pal in England had a problem with his heart. It was something that would have been considered serious around here and would have been fixed within a week. In England he was put on a waiting list. A year and a half later he died just a couple months before his scheduled procedure. During the wait my wife suggested to them that they come here or go to Thailand where medical treatment is cheaper. They had enough money but decided to wait it out. Of course losing her beloved husband has been heart breaking for my wife’s pen pal. The two of them had recently retired and were looking forward to a long retirement together.

          • When I worked as a Manager at a mall in Portland Oregon I talked to a tourist from Canada and they couldn’t believe what I paid for healthcare, which was $650 a month at the time, she said how do you afford it and I said I can’t but you have to pay it. She said she love the free healthcare in Canada. I asked her cause i heard so much negative from Americans about it. I think alot is myth cause I haven’t heard negatives from them but people inside the US.

          • To Debbiejo, when my mother wintered in West Palm Beack, Florida, one of the couples in the campground were from Canada. He needed heart bypass surgery, and while they were waiting for the “death board” to approve the surgery, he passed away. That is straight from a Canadian citizen. I am afraid that is what is coming for The United States also.

      • One huge consideration for me is that these ministries do not pay for abortions. I do not want to be giving money to an insurance company that pays for them. Obamacare does. Case closed.

          • I’m glad I came across this website and I’m so very thankful to you for publishing your findings on Christian Healthcare networks. We have 4 children, who are on the state medicaid program, and my husband and I have been uninsured for years, just not being able to afford the insurance at his job. I’m a SAH Homeschool mom, and we only have the one income. The Obamacare program was a joke, basically charging you monthly for a massive deductible, then, the other day, we realized that on top of it all, we’re going to be taking a $1000 dollar penalty for not being able to afford the $1700/month insurance. Don’t they think that we want to be able to go to the doctor when we’re sick? I would love too!!!! I’ve had massive pain since my youngest was born, internally, but I know without a doubt we cannot afford any kind of surgeries that I may need. Freedom? no, we don’t have that, so now I’m looking into the christian healthcare systems, and praying that we can afford that. It does sound really nice, and I’m sick to my stomach thinking that all that insurance $$ has been funding abortions. It saddens me that our great country has come to this.

    • While no one is left on the streets, many do not receive healthcare in a timely manner. Many die! Our healthcare was the best in the world and many got help even when they could not pay for it. Obamacare forces people to take what they do not want. That is not the Mark of a free nation.

    • Tina, the only people getting help with their health care costs are very poor people. If you make a living wage, you are paying twice the amount today that you paid two years ago. I am a married 62 year old woman and have an individual policy. My husband is old enough for medicare. My policy went from $312 a month to $667 for the same high deductible policy. The insurance company said it was because everyone has to carry maternity benefits now. Michael Moore movies are meant to cause controversy. This shared cost Christian health care ministry is a God-send.

  3. Thank you so much for this article! I’m embarking on a big research project into health co-ops after our high-deductible HSA doubled overnight under the introduction of the ACA. Thank you for organizing this! Very helpful.

  4. To answer Amber, CHMinistries guidelines state that gold level members who have Brothers Keeper have unlimited cost support per diagnosis. The same appears to be true for Medishare and Samaritan, there is no official cap if you are a member of the Save to Share program (Samaritan) or with Medishare (they have no secondary program, it’s just all rolled together). So I think from a catastrophic standpoint everything is pretty much the same as long as you are comparing the Gold Brother’s Keeper plan.

    • Hey Karen- it varies from each ministry. You’ll have to call and check in with each one. I know in the case of cancer, Samaritan Ministries has a 7 YEAR remission period to receive coverage for a recurrence. I believe it’s 5 years for CHM.

  5. Hi!

    I found your blog very insightful. I am wondering if you are still satisfied with your decision to join Samaritan. I am researching Christian Healthcare for my husband and myself, and am finding so many positive things about each of these programs.

    Thank you,
    Moira

      • There are quite a few bad things with CHM that don’t sit well with me.

        Liberty Healthshare is better than all of them 🙂 In my opinion. They respect your privacy, they pay for alternative treatments (They have the same stipulations as SM so maybe not 100% would be covered depending on what treatment you would like). They are more affordable with less “deductible” and cover more than CHM for sure.

        CHM doesn’t respect your privacy as much, they don’t pay for anything unless it is over $500 per incident. So if you go to the doctors, they will only pay if it is over $500. None of my doctor’s appts are over that???

        Anyway, it just left a bad taste in my mouth. Liberty is what I chose after researching last year. I have been with them now for 7 months and so far so good.

  6. Wow that was strange. I just wrote an extremely
    long comment but after I clicked submit my comment didn’t appear.
    Grrrr… well I’m not writing all that over
    again. Anyhow, just wanted to say superb blog!

  7. Thank you so much for the info. I had missionary coverage and now am part time in the USA and part time in Honduras. I need to find health coverage and heard about Health Sharing Plans. You made it very simple. Thank you and blessings to you and your blog.
    Consider yourself hugged,
    Sue

  8. I am researching this option for healthcare and am trying not to get overwhelmed! My kids have had Medicaid for years, and it has been a blessing. My husband has always farmed and I am a stay at home mom. My husband and I each have our own BCBS plans, but now that we have one in college and he lost his state coverage once he turned 19, we are searching for something that my husband and I can switch to, that will cover all the kids- young and college age. Any and all advice regarding the plans and how they would benefit us is welcome!

  9. Hi,

    Thanks so much for your very thorough explanation of these 3 great alternatives to traditional health care. My husband and I are weighing our options and are pretty sure we will be making the switch soon to one of these. Question — have you seen your monthly share amount go up each month? I noticed this was originally published in December last year and you state the rate for a family is $370. On the Samaritan website it is now listed as $405. Also wondering if you are “grandfathered” in at $370 or are you now paying the new rate of $405?

  10. Thanks for the confirmation. I kept looking online for “side by side comparisons of Christian healthshare ministries”, but yours was the easiest to read and make a decision on.

    I have compared the three main Christian health share ministries before and felt a real Biblical peace about the way Samaritan’s way promotes ‘caring for fellow brothers and sisters in Christ’. It is also very simple and less limited in rules which could interfere with getting the care we need. Praise God for all three ministries for providing believers a detour from the evil practices our government is pushing on us!
    I hope to afford Samaritan soon, now.
    Blessings in Christ to you and your family!

  11. This was so helpful! I did notice on the Samaritan’s website that their program for contributing to needs >$250,000 is called Save to Share, not Share to Care as you called it in your article. Thank you for writing this article – it was a very helpful comparison for me as I look into these options.

  12. HI, i have been looking into healthcare bill sharing for a year now. Our insurance premium just went up another 28% for the 4th year in a row. And our coverage keeps dwinding away. These companies just sound too good to be true. My mani concern is me and my daughter have heart conditions. (pin-hole and mermur). We have never been medicated or treated for it but may one day require surgery or treatment. Would this be considered pre-exsiting? Neither of us have had any issues and we do have an annual heart check up to make sure there are no changes. I really need help knowing if how this would qualify. I know CHM is better for pre-exsiting but we are not into recieve gov help or the manditory thing about trying before they help.

      • STephanie — it most likely would be considered pre-existing, and most of them will cover pre-existing conditions after a year. I am on Liberty Healthshare and after a year, they will cover up to $25k of my pre-existing conditions (thyroid issues) and after the second year, higher cap, and then I think after the 3rd year there is no cap other than the $1M mark for any incident.

        If you show no signs or issues, and don’t take meds, and think you won’t need any huge medical care for at least a year, you should be fine.

  13. Wow! Great blog! I have been reading and researching and re-reading these alternatives to Obamacare, until I could do no more…then I found this blog. I so appreciate the work you have put into this. I am about to lose my health insurance due to job change and was looking for an alternative when a friend recommended CHM. After reviewing all three, I decided MediShare was definitely out and between CHM and Samaritan, my gut said Samaritan (oddly due to a lot of the reasons you listed) was the better choice but I kept vacillating between the two until I read your blog. You are right both plans hit me as wonderful alternatives but Samaritan seems to talk to me more. I’m so pleased to hear that you like not only for a lot of the reasons I like them BUT that you are still very pleased for them! Thanks so much!

  14. Thank you very much for the helpful breakdown of the three alternative medical sharing ministries. I am trying to decide which one to sign up for. I am a Nurse, and it will be the first time I have ever not had “real” medical insurance. we can’t pay the outrageous premiums anymore!! I have a family of 3 but we have a pre-existing history of cancer. so I will have to decide which one works the best for us. Thanks again!

  15. I am considering Christian healthcare ministries but need to understand more about how they cover dental and vision. My 4 year old has a genetic gum problem in which many of her baby teeth have cavities and have started to rot, in places. Her dentist said she will eventually need anesthetic surgery and have to have multiple (6-8) teeth removed. I dread to think of this and to think of how much ($thousands) it will cost to have this procedure and extractions done.

    Are there any Christian ministries that would consider covering these types of big money dental procedures done???

    • Jaelima, I’ve also been searching dental plans, it seems like the Christian ministries are able to meet some of those needs, but not all. I’ve also researched some dental discount plans, also “not insurance” but they might help you with some of your costs! http://www.dentalplans.com is one that compares different plans, also CareingtonLiveWell covers some dental, vision, and some other things as well. http://www.careington.com/co/livewell/lw.html

      Good luck!!

      • Megan and Jaelima- It differs for each ministry, but I can speak for Samaritan Ministries and any TMJ or any MEDICAL dental issues, that they are fully covered. I was treated for TMJ and was able to share all of my TMJ dental expenses. And since I was able to receive a 30% discount from my dentist, the amount that was discounted came off of my $300 “personal responsibility,” making it only $120. I was sent checks from other members, reimbursing all of my expenses except the $120. It took about 3 months to receive all reimbursement.

    • Jaellma, my son had ECC . I found a dentist in Pocotello ID that used ozone therapy to kill the bacteria, then we did the GAPS diet to heal/rebalance his gut health. The decay stopped, the teeth hardened, his exczema cleared, mood and attitude improved. Rami Nagels book Curing tooth decay streamlined this process for me, it was vital to getting started. The Dr. Weston Price foundation is the basis for this knowledge. Raw dairy was important, cod liver oil was very important, vit D and bone broths. We lost three teeth in the first month before I learned how to heal his body, he was fifteen months old. Today my son is nine and his teeth are beautiful. I feel we may have avoid many health issue with this holistic approach. Good luck.

  16. Hi ! Thank you for posting about all your research on Christian Healthcare Sharing options! It was very helpful for me as I am looking into different options as I am thouroughly disappointed in Obamacare and morally disagree with many of its facets. Thanks for sharing as all of your research gave me a good idea of what each company could possibly offer.

  17. Thank you for this! Your article was a great launchpad for me to approach the choice of alternatives to ACA. I’ve forwarded the article to friends as well. However, the christianmedplans.com links above now appear to be dead.

  18. While I was thankful that the ACA finally mandated that coverage could not be denied (helpful for those of us unable to obtain healthcare coverage at all), I am even more grateful for finding out that there is a Christian option. Thanks very much for the research. Your subjective information was extremely useful. While looking at various plans, I found another comparison website, which may be helpful to readers in doing a side-by-side objective comparison. Thanks again!

      • My wife and I are SERIOUSLY considering making the leap out of traditional health insurance. We’re reading and learning and having conversations and are hoping to make a decision before Dec. 15.

        QUESTION: Are there differences among these plans as to their compassion toward those who are poor? Do any of these plans encourage outreach _beyond_ the group of participants? Are any more or less diverse (racially or “class” wise)? I do like Obamacare in terms of how it is giving millions of those who are “least able to afford health care” access to something more consistent than the emergency room. I don’t want to close myself off from all of those in the world who are desperately poor or “not like me” (white, middle class).

        • Hi Steve- Sorry it takes me so long to respond at times. I’m about to have my third child and am the primary caregiver to my two other little ones. It can get busy around here!

          I honestly don’t know the answer to your question. I think, in general the ministries- especially Christian Healthcare Ministries and Samaritan are grace-filled when it comes to current members having hardships, but I am not sure about charity memberships, etc. Next time I call with a question, I will ask Samaritan. You may want to call the others if you want to know. That’s a really great question!

  19. I am a mother of 5 children and wife to a husband who has food allergies. I am bipolar and my meds are about $700/month and I don’t know how much my doctors fees would be. How would it be to join your organization?

  20. We are currently Samaritan members and had our first medical need published this month for maternity. I personally like sending checks to the individuals and including cards and notes. We researched the three options and Samaritan stood out. We were also members before the increase but we pay the new price as no one is “grandfathered”. Any increases in the share amount is voted on by members, and if approved then the share amount is increased. So, you wont see an increase just because, like many health insurance companies.

  21. I am wondering if a diagnosis requires prescription medications, do any of these different sharing ministries cover those medications and if not, would the cost of those prescriptions count toward the $300 or the amount of personal responsibility? I am very grateful to you for sharing this concise summary. Thank you for your gift of time to help so many of us.

    • I know specifically to Samaritan Ministries that all prescriptions related to a diagnosis are covered for 120 days with some exceptions that are extended. Here’s the excerpt from their guidelines:

      “Prescriptions for medication
      related to a qualifying medical condition
      are publishable for the customary cost of a
      120-day supply. (Treatments for cancer, antirejection
      drugs, and sublingual immunotherapy
      [a curative treatment for allergies] are not
      subject to this limitation.) All medication, prescribed
      or not, administered during inpatient
      hospital stays will be publishable. Note: We
      do not publish the cost of prescriptions for
      maintenance of chronic or recurring conditions
      (e.g. diabetes, eczema, blood pressure
      control) beyond a one-time, 120-day period.
      (Subsequent publication of a prescription for
      maintenance of the same condition will occur
      only when there is a new need.”

    • They ask you to sign a statement of Faith. So Yes- they ask that you be a professing Christian following a set of clean living ideals. It also is how it’s protected under 1st amendment rights for exemption. Hope that helps!

      • I ended up joining Christian Healthcare Ministries.

        I have no preexisting conditions, and attend VBF as my church.

        I mainly am joining due to Obamacare, and I have 2 good paying jobs, however am not part time in either so no insurance.

        Currently waiting for their information packet to come in with my membership card. I signed up in the beginning of January.

  22. I just wanted to thank you for this clear comparison of these plans/programs/ministries. THANK YOU – and thank you also, at least in this post, for not conflating a deeply Christian desire to share each others burdens with politics that are very much up for discussion. It is much appreciated! Grace and peace to you!

  23. I was told that if we sign up, an injury that my husband had 30 years ago that will someday lead to knee surgery would not be covered as it is a preexisting condition. Have you seen any situations like this? Do I understand correctly? Because it sounds like we should enroll in insurance and get the knee taken care of now even though it doesn’t need it right now and then enroll in Samaritan’s ministries.

    • Hi Kirsten- SM does have rules about preexisting conditions but they vary from condition to condition. Sounds like getting the surgery now would be a good idea under Obamacare coverage. I know that if the “preexisting condition” is one that is healed for long periods of time (I know for cancer it is 7 years) and then comes back- Samaritan WILL cover that condition. I don’t know the policies as well for Christian Healthcare Ministries, but in general I hear they are more lenient about preexisting condition. Might want to check them out, too. (:

  24. I noticed on the SM website it states “It’s not too late to join!” on the “Download Info Packet” tab on the right hand side. It made me wonder if SM and others also have open enrollment periods like traditional insurance? I couldn’t find any information on the SM website so hopefully you know! Great post – thanks for taking the time to do it and to answer questions!

    • They do, but not for “maintenance treatments.” I am publishing all of pregnancy-related back pain chiropractic visits and were told they will be publishable. (:

      Chiropractic—Services related to treatment
      of a specific musculoskeletal injury or
      musculoskeletal disease may be publishable
      for up to 25 office visits, including ancillary
      items for treating the musculoskeletal injury
      or musculoskeletal disease such as prescribed
      nutritional supplements for up to 120 days
      and X-rays. Maintenance treatments are not
      publishable.

  25. I am very interested in joining Samaritan Ministries after a friend who is a member raved about them. However, although I am a Christian and adhere to the tenets to which they request adherence, I am not a regular attender of a local church. I am a member of one, but it is a “mega church” (over 6,000 members) and even if I did attend regularly, none of the pastoral staff would know me, so I would feel very odd requesting a signature from them on the application. This would seem to render me ineligible for joining – am I correct?

    • Hi Lucie- I am in the same situation here in Atlanta. We go to a very large church with no accountability to whether we attend or not. I was told that a bible study leader or similar type staff member could also sign off on your SM application and needs that would be filed. I got the sense that it was a “between you and God” kind of honesty policy…that most people who join are doing so with an internal conviction and SM trusts that. You might want to call them to be sure. (:

      • Hello!

        I want to know if I qualify, my husband was born as an adventist, me as a catholic, we have never been devoted and come from a different country. We have never attended church in the US, we abide by biblical principles of living, we are healthy, no substance abuse or anything like that, we share the christian way of life except we have never practiced religion per se… Do you think we qualify? What could we do? Ive read the bible and I like its teachings but Neither of us could really account for a religion as we do not know where to get really, what do you suggest?

  26. Our family has been enrolled with Christian Healthcare Ministries for about two years now. We have never actually used the plan but felt good about enrolling in something other than the Obama healthcare plan. After researching Medi-share & CH Ministries, we chose CH Ministries, but somehow overlooked the Samaritan plan. We really like alternative options like naturopathic but didn’t realize that CH Ministries didn’t cover that. We are looking at switching over to the Samaritan plan but have a couple questions about the Samaritan plan: 1. Is there a deductible? (With CH Ministries ours is $1000). 2. If we switched, could we still keep the big brother plan? (With CH Ministries, you earn $100,000 for each year that you are with them – capping @ $1,000,000). Any additional information I can get would help. Thanks! 🙂

    • Hi Shelly- yes, it’s called “personal responsibility” and it’s $300 per incident. You can have it reduced by asking for reductions in your bills because you’re a “self pay” patient. So let’s say my Bill is $500 but I got a $100 reduction in bills because I paid the whole thing right there..then your “personal responsibility” would only be $200 because $100 extra will be “shared” with other members along with any amount over the $300 you were supposed to pay. See my posts on Samaritan for more examples of this because it’s a bit confusing at first.

  27. Hello!

    I want to know if I qualify, my husband was born as an adventist, me as a catholic, we have never been devoted and come from a different country. We have never attended church in the US, we abide by biblical principles of living, we are healthy, no substance abuse or anything like that, we share the christian way of life except we have never practiced religion per se… Do you think we qualify? What could we do? Ive read the bible and I like its teachings but Neither of us could really account for a religion as we do not know where to get really, what do you suggest?

    • Hi Gin- give Samaritan Ministries a call to talk about your situation. I do believe they ask that you are a follower of Jesus- it’s not about being religious. Do you believe He is who He says he is and strive to follow in His mission? That’s huge, ya know? I know that I’ve had people tell me they attend a home church or online church, etc and they just have the closest person to hold them accountable sign, but the Statement of Faith you have to sign to join asks about what I mentioned above.

  28. TY for the comparison. Ide like to go with samaritans but likely too expensive atm. Seems like CHM will be a likely candidate for us for now. Sucks they dont cover alternative medicine but np. Thanks!

  29. In reviewing your discussion, CHM Gold plan has the $500 personal contribution per year for anything above $500. If it is below $500, then the individual is personally responsible for that cost. Much like Samaritan has the $300 limit for their bills.

  30. Sadly I may have misread this but I got excited to call this company and they still rejected me. They would cover anything in the future but nothing I was dealing with now even though it’s something I have never had in the past. How did you get around that I am curious? Or did I misread?

  31. Thank you so much for this info! Very helpful and I am so excited to to have another option to obamacare.
    Here is my question…Are you required to carry pediatric vision and dental insurance along with this plan? When I got my insurance through BCBS this year, I was required to have ped dental and vision for my children. Thank you again for posting all this information! You rock! Tiff

  32. I went through this several years ago. We went with CHM. Now obamacare is increasing my husband’s insurance through his company from just under $200 per month to $1100! So we are looking at these options again. Thanks!

  33. I have been on CHM for a year I recently found out something so incredibly disturbing. THEY WILL NOT SHARE FOR UNWED MOTHERS WHO FIND THEMSELVES PREGNANT.
    I love Jesus. And I cannot and will not believe that is in acts of compassion to tell a pregnant and unwed mother, “you are in our prayers” and deny them maternal care that they share with married women.
    **I am not in this position. But I am advocating for those women.

    It is awful to think that their response would be an incentive for a woman to get an abortion. Or for the woman to get the care she needs for her pregnancy at Planned Parenthood. Imagine that: unwed mother (for many different reasons that one should not judge) denied maternal care through CHRISTIAN Healthcare Ministries but gets maternal care she needs from Planned Parenthood. Way to go, Christian Healthcare Ministries!

    • Natalie, thanks for your comment. I believe all 3 ministries have the same policy…I know with Samaritan, they do have a crisis pregnancy center that they support. Not sure how any of them handle it as a “Special Prayer Need.” It’s part of the agreement when you agree to become a member that relations occur within a marriage setting. You agree to accept those terms when you become a member. Any pregnancies occurring before membership aren’t shareable whether they occurred within marriage or not.

      • I too am concerned about CHM policy to deny unwed mothers support during pregnancy. The link in Tim’s reply doesnt work but look at

        https://www.morningcenter.org/
        ?The Morning Center was created as an extension of Samaritan Ministries in 2011 out of love for mothers and their newborns. “

        • I’d love to see some women representing women’s needs on The Morning Center’s Board of Directors. They seem to have support for pregnant women in IL, TN, and plans for Atlanta GA in the future. (Not near to where I live)

  34. Thank you so much for your dedication. I too am looking for alternatives to the too-expensive Affordable Care Act. What a contradiction!

    Prior to reading your article I knew only about MediShare. Thanks also to your other readers who shared useful information. I think we’re all looking for the same thing – each one helping the other.

    Keep up the good work.
    God Bless You

  35. Hi,
    We are applying to Medishare online. When we get to the part on the application where we choose our denomination, we choose “other” because ours isn’t listed. Then it says our application is on hold. We are messianic jewish. We believe Jesus is the Son of God Who died for our sins. We totally agree with the statement of faith. I tried emailing them regarding this matter, but we haven’t heard back from them yet. What do we do?

    • Hi Lisa 🙂 We aren’t members of Medi-Share so you’ll have to check with their member support/ customer service. I would also check out Samaritan Ministries which is what we have and chose over Medi-Share.

  36. hi,
    I enjoyed reading about the different health plans. Fortunately, I am one of the very poor who gets Medicaid and Medicare off of my mother’s work record as I was disabled before age 22 .

    I didn’t know that Obama Care changed things for so many people, doubling insurance costs for many . One person said she has to pay a thousand dollar fine or something like that. That’s horrible. So only the very poor like me gets health care free and the rest of you have to pay higher costs. That’s not fair and I”m sorry I voted for Obama . He lied to us about so many things , like stopping the war. He didn’t do that like he promised.

    I just hope America isn’t voting for Donald Trump. I think he will be much worse.

    I love green drinks and I try to eat healthy. I have a Nutri Bullet and make green drinks a lot, if the thing would quit leaking I would more often. LOL .

    Nice blog. keep up the good work.

    • It does seem somewhat ironic that an outfit named “Samaritan” doesn’t allow non-Christians to join, as the Good Samaritan story is all about caring for those who are not of your faith or nationality. So much for Christ’s actual teachings about how to treat thy neighbor, including unwed mothers, or, umm, what was it he said to those getting ready to stone a woman to death for adultery? Oh, never mind; that stuff apparently doesn’t apply today. Onward Christian soldiers!

      • Their mission is not to provide insurance for the world. That’s what Obamacare purports to do. Rather, it’s for the family of faith to share one another’s medical burdens, as in the Bible. They reduce costs and make it possible by requiring members to refrain from certain health-degrading behaviors, such as smoking and extramarital sex, and they keep it spiritually healthy and respectful of God by not covering immoral procedures, such as abortion. This isn’t hard to understand. Non-Christians can certainly exercise the same right of freedom of association and form their own cost-sharing group.

        • Well said! Thank you! We as christians should be able to choose our preferred form of health care and not be forced to support anything unBiblical that goes against our conscience. Cortney, You may want to update your information about Medi-Share as there are 6 options for singles (30 yo+), couples and families and 7 for single under age 30. The one option you mentioned of 1250 AHP is the most expensive. They also have no annual or lifetime maximums.

    • Dear Maria,

      I do not understand your comments about Donald Trump. Mr. Trump has stated repeatedly that he is 100% against ObamaCare, and will eagerly sign a bill repealing it (bills repealing ObamaCare have been passed by Congress dozens of times over the last few years, only to have Obama veto them each time they reach his desk) during his first few days in office. It’s good that you realize you made a mistake voting for Obama, but please don’t write off Donald Trump before you get to know him better. I bet if you went to his website and read his stances on various issues (especially ObamaCare), you’d be in agreement with him. Like you, Mr. Trump believes our powers and resources in this country should be used to uplift, safeguard and protect our country and the American people, not fight some other country’s wars for them.

      All the best to you with your health, and may we soon be delivered from ObamaCare! Hillary Clinton has recently stated that not only does she favor ObamaCare, she wants illegal aliens in our country to receive it! Remember, elections have consequences! Maranatha! Come, Lord Jesus!

      P.S. Green Drink Diaries, thank you for your blog. It has helped me find the Christian Healthcare Ministry that is best for my family. Keep up the great work!

  37. I just want to say thank you for your research and comments on this page. Before I came your site, I only knew about Medi-Share. It is good to know that there are other alternatives out there to Obamacare. Thank you

  38. This is a bit outdated, would love to see an updated one that includes Liberty Healthshare, as it is the best by far comparatively, as it works with both alternative practitioners, and the costs are affordable.

    One thing about CHM is that they require you to fill out paperwork at the hospital’s financial aid office, and try to get as much money out of the “system” as you can before they will share the cost. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Reminds me of how my dad said that after my mom died he had three little kids and just recovered from almost dying himself (tumor in his head). He was eligible for financial assistance (welfare) but he made more than he lived on (he lived well below his means) and he said people thought he was dumb for not applying…. he did not like the thought of having to input all his personal, private financial information to get assistance. It was his responsibility to care for himself and his kids, and pay the medical bills they incurred. And he did it. Without assistance.

    So my integrity that I hold dear, tells me that I should not ask for assistance unless there are dire circumstances. For that reason, among others, I do not like CHM.

  39. Hi, Cortney-

    What a wonderful blog! This is going to be so very helpful as my husband and I consider the options for his health care outside of the Obamacare nightmare we’ve been subjected to for the past 3 years. All details aside, it’s been the most frustrating experience ever and we’re disgusted that our tax dollars go to a program so poorly run with so little benefits. Thank you so much for your ministry- I’m sure you’re helping thousands of Christians get better medical care! God bless you!

  40. When Samaritan went up the month after we enrolled (no idea prices were going up they don’t send new members ballots) we dropped it and went with liberty healthshare which was 100.00 less and adds all medical bills instead of per incidence. The ded is 1500 per family but considering it’s everything not per incidence it worked for our needs just thought I would share another great alternative!

  41. My husband and I are looking at joining a healthcare sharing ministry for 2017. Our family of 4 is extremely healthy and we have had very high deductible health plans for several years that have worked fine for us (since we are typically healthy). When we started with high deductible plans our premium for a family of 4 was about $270 month and we had a $10,000 deductible. The premium would go up every year but once we were forced onto ACA plans our premiums skyrocketed. In 2016 we are paying $895 per month for a $13,100 deductible. For 2017, our premiums have gone to $1,650 per month and the deductible has remained at $13,100. We can’t afford that.

    Here is my question for you: We are waffling between Samaritan Ministries and Medi-Share. One of my major hang ups is that it seems Samaritan Ministries leaves you to negotiate with the doctors and hospitals where Medi-Share negotiates for you. Has Samaritan Ministries given you direction on how to negotiate lower and discounted services?

    Thanks for any information you have!

    • Hey Dana, sorry it’s been a few weeks since you posted. Yes- they give you a tip sheet on how to do it. I actually felt empowered asking for deductions seeing I was paying cash and most offered a discount before I even asked since I was self-pay. I believe they do have a team also on staff that negotiates for you if you ask. 🙂

  42. Samaritan no longer limits the $300 personal responsibility to three incidents (effectively a $900 cap per year). Now every incident is subject to the $300 personal responsibility limit.

    • Hey Jennifer,

      I don’t have time to check the guidelines right this second, but we just reached the 4th incident this year and they ARE waiving the 4th and also said if there are any more the rest of the year they will also waive the $300 responsibility. Just our personal experience. 🙂

  43. Thanks for your insight. It was very helpful as we are making a decision of which sharing system to go with. God Bless!

  44. Do any of these healthcare options cover mammograms, colonoscopies etc… We have been blessed with good health but are now in our 60’s and feel it’s time to have a thorough check-up. We were on Obamacare last year and my colonoscopy(last one was 10 years ago) would have cost over $5,000. My wife hasn’t had any of these tests in years and needs to have these done we think.? I’m not sure if these are considered routine or part of an annual check-up.

    • Hi Marvin!

      SM does not cover any preventative or routine check ups or visit (except for newborn check at birth and follow up.) These would be events that should be saved for as “routine.” The exception would be if you were experiencing symptoms that required a colonoscopy for diagnosis or mammography for diagnosis.

  45. I really like the overall feel of Samaritan but feel that $250,000 for a family might not be enough.
    I know they have the Save to Share plan… but figuring out the annual cap with the extra coverage isn’t easy. Do you know how much extra coverage it affords you ?

    • IF participating in Save to Share, I don’t believe there is a cap…I looked and looked through the guidelines and it doesn’t mention one. I thought at one point that it was $1,000,000 but can’t find that now. Save to Share is a one time “put away” amount of $399 a year for a family of 3 or more and they will prompt you in your monthly newsletter if there is a family you need to send it to. 🙂 http://samaritanministries.org/how-it-works/savetoshare/

  46. Samaritan Ministries says they’re based on the philosophy of “sharing each others burdens” yet their membership requirements are hypocritical & dividing..

    1. One must be a professing Christian. No one of another faith is allowed to join (even if they believe in God/Jesus).

    It’s as if Samaritan Ministries never read the biblical story of the non-Christian man from Samaria who helped the man of a different race/religion who was robbed and beaten! They truly should change their business name as it’s a smack in the face to everything Jesus taught.

    2. One must attend a Christian Church regularly.

    Jesus never taught anyone to attend any church ever! He despised the hypocritical church leaders and their rotten places of worship. Most churches are corrupt these days. Can you really blame someone for not attending church regularly or at all? Jesus taught people that the temple was within us! “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? … that you are the Temple of God, and that The Spirit of God dwells within you?”

    3. LGBT people are not allowed.

    I guess that’s why Liberty Healthshare is so much better than these other corrupt health ministries. They allow all faiths & LGBT people.

    • The heart of Samaritan includes praying for each other, faith in God and what He is doing in your life, and adhering to certain lifestyle behaviors. I think there is a perfect ministry for each person. Samaritan is wonderful for us b/c we only use natural medicine unless there is an emergency. I am glad Liberty is there for you and the others who are members. 🙂

  47. Hi! I was searching for comparisons for a friend, and just wanted to add some information on Christian Healthcare Ministries (which our family has used for over 4 years). You neglected to mention that CHM offers the same rate reduction benefit on the personal responsibility that Samaritan does: “If you negotiate your bills down for a price reduction (they have a department to help you with this process,) the money you save actually gets taken out of your $300 per incident responsibility, leaving you with less or no money to pay for your medical care.” With CHM the amount is $500, but the principle still applies. Also, CHM appears to be the most inexpensive option of the three, as if you have 3 units at the gold (highest) level, your monthly share would be $450. Brother’s Keeper also offers no limit on benefits at the gold level. I’m sure you’re not as informed on CHM since you don’t use it, and understandably love Samaritan, but I thought it would help your readers to have a little more accurate comparison.

  48. I am searching for a med sharing for me. I am a senior citizen and have medicare A & B. Does Sarmartin ministries have anything like that?

  49. Will this be good for and with holistic providers such as chiropractors, naturopaths, acpuncturists, massage therapists, ROLFers, and other holistic providers and body workers. We stay away from mainstream medical doctors, if possible. ESPECIALLY the hospitals, because now they are using deliberate trickery language and words in their admission forms such as biologics and biogenics which both mean VACCINES to push unwanted vaccines on an unsuspecting public.

    • Yes- holistic practitioners are approved as long as they are licensed in your state. For instance in my state naturopaths are not licensed but acupuncturists are. You’ll need to check. It also depends on each situation. For me I saw a cranial osteopath but had a referral from my MD. I also saw a homeopath several times and had the remedy covered. Also, chiropractic during and event such as pregnancy or after an accident is covered but not routine care. You’ll want to call and check with them for specifics.