health care sharing ministries

Guide to Health Care Sharing Ministries

Gotta Have Faith

All the believers were one in heart and mind.

Acts 4:32

Last week we were talking insurance, mandates, and every variable on the table this week is all about health care sharing ministries. For a quick refresher, the Affordable Care Act defines them as: “A health care sharing ministry is a tax-exempt organization whose members: share a common set of ethical or religious beliefs, AND share medical expenses in accordance with those beliefs, even after a member develops a medical condition.” It must also have been in existence and sharing medical expenses continuously since December 31, 1999. To claim the exemption on Form 8965, enter code “D” in Part III, column (c)), then note which months the exemption applies for. (As insurance is no longer a government mandate subject to penalties and exemptions this part is no longer relevant).

The organizations are often collectively called Medi-Share though it is not technically correct because Medi-Share actually refers to a specific organization within the group, Christian Care Ministry (CCM). Due to the nature of these organizations, qualification is reliant upon your religious affiliation. (We are searching for non-faith based options and options for faiths outside of Christianity to include, but as yet have not found any.)


However, one option has a “looser” statement of faith. Liberty HealthShare’s “Statement of Shared Beliefs” is based on Christian Principles but does not mention Jesus, though it does mention the Bible. That may be something that those outside of the Christian faith could discuss with their spiritual leaders to determine if it jibes with their faith, morals, ethics, and personal religious values.

These are private options. Subsequently, this means they are not subject to the same parameters the government has enforced on insurance companies. Health care sharing ministries are required to have a yearly independent audit but they do not have to cover your pre-existing conditions, maternity, or stupidity. Some charge a premium if you are not within given healthy parameters (e.g. overweight, high blood pressure, etc.). Most have options if your pre-existing condition can be cured or a large prayer pool where members can help those with exorbitant medical costs that would not be part of the normal share “pool.”


However, if you are still reading and you do qualify and subscribe to Christian beliefs then health care sharing ministries may be an option for your family. They are very affordable. Particularly for large families. Most are purchased based on a unit or share system. Each adult is an individual share and all the children in the family are one share. Meaning a family of 3 and a family of 7 would be paying the same amount. These costs for the entire family of could be as low as $135 per month, though the average is probably closer $350-550.

Health Care Sharing Ministries – What are the Options?*

These plans tend to run like insurance was meant to – you cover your incidentals, regular doctors visits, wellness check-ups, etc. up to a certain amount and then anything over your designated threshold is eligible to be shared. If you are on a high-deductible plan not much will change.

Their setups vary on how you get reimbursed and your level of involvement in your bill. Some are set up like a regular insurance company where your doctor bills to them. Some you pay up front and try to negotiate your bill down and then submit “claims.” Some you directly write a check to another member some go through escrow and the company disburses payments.

The following five companies are the only health care sharing ministries we found (if you know of others please comment below or contact us).

Health Care Sharing Ministries

Medi-Share (Christian Care Ministries – CCM)

CCM is set up like a high-deductible insurance plan. They offer Annual Household Portions (AHP) starting at $3000 and up to $12,000. The monthly share amount varies from $0-790. This option also issues you a membership card and uses a network of providers with whom they have negotiated rates. They are part of the PHCS network. If you use another provider you may pay a penalty. When you visit the doctor there is a $35 provider fee then your doctor submits the bill. After you are billed for the net amount. ER visits have a $200 provider fee.

Similar to insurance well-child visits up to six years old are eligible for sharing before your AHP have been met. CCM has provisos for pre-existing conditions, maternity, physical therapy, and chiropractic care. Something unique to Medi-Share is that you can also share costs incurred with up to two adoptions (amount based on AHP). Further, final expenses, including those for stillborn children, are also shareable.

A membership with Careington Discount Plan is included for all family members and helps to receive discounts for prescriptions, dental, and vision needs.

There are discounts for being healthy and a mandatory enrollment in the $99 per month health-partner program if you don’t meet BMI and healthy weight ranges (it will be waived if you can become healthy).

Members share via an escrow account.

Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM)

If you have perused the marketplace you will see a lot of Gold, Silver, and Bronze leveled plans. CHM has followed this model and offers three levels of sharing. Gold being the more comprehensive and expensive option. A family can expect to pay $255-615 per month. Additionally, there is a quarterly variable gift requirement at all levels – the average is $75 per family.

CCM also offers a yearly add-on (about $20 per share per month), that is common to health care sharing ministries. Enrolling in their “Brother’s Keeper” Program increases the maximum reimbursable amount.

Gold level members can age out of pre-existing condition requirements and Silver and Bronze level members can share their exceptional needs on their prayer page. Depending on level physical therapy, maternity, and prescriptions may be shareable. Chiropractic, Alternative, Dental, Vision, Adoption, and/or Death are not shareable.

Members share via an escrow account.

Samaritan Ministries

Samaritan Ministries is very popular option with membership exploding under Obamacare. In 1999 it serviced just 1,000 households. As of January 2018 it was up to 68,200 or over 221,000 people {source}. Currently, they offer two levels a Basic and Classic – four a family of four the Basic is $250-350 per month, the Classic $530 per month. There is an optional add-on of $399 per year to join the “Save to Share” program to help when qualified expenses exceed $250,000.

Under the Basic plan you can share eligible expenses once need exceeds $1,500 and then everything else is sharable up to 90%. The classic begins sharing at $400 and then 100% of eligible costs are sharable.

It has provisos for pre-existing conditions (that can be cured), physical therapy, maternity (options are available for those who join while pregnant), prescriptions (through an included discount program), chiropractic, and alternative care.

There is no coverage for dental, vision, adoption, or death.

Through this ministry, you are directly sharing with other members so you may receive many checks to deposit if you have a large bill. Also, if needs are greater than shares your reimbursements may be prorated. All this means is that you may have to front a significant amount of money while waiting for your full bill to be paid.

Liberty Health

Like CCM, Liberty is one of the health care sharing ministries that has three levels of membership. They have a range of prices based on age and family size, but for a family of 3 or more the prices range is $499-849 per month, the family’s Annual Unshared Amount (AUA) for each plan is between $2,250-$12,000. Liberty, like Medi-Share, charges those deemed unhealthy an extra $80 per month (which will be waived if you can become healthy).

There are provisos for pre-existing conditions, Physical therapy, death, and maternity. Prescriptions, dental, vision, Chiropractic/ Alternative are eligible for some plans through the mandatory add-on SavNet Discount Plan. Wellness exams are suitable to share after AUA is met, including preventative screening like PAP smears, mammograms, and colonoscopies. Well-baby exams are eligible within the first year and not subject to AUA.

Liberty, like Samaritan’s purse, is also subject to prorating when needs exceed shares.

Liberty might be the option for non-Christians. While I did not find any information to the contrary on their website it has been stated elsewhere online that Muslims, Jews, and Homosexual couples (on individual plans) may join.

Members share via an escrow account called ShareBox.


Our last and least common option is Altrua. As health care sharing ministries go it has the most variables in membership based on age and family size. A family could conceivably spend $221-954 per month. Plus, it also subjects overweight members to an extra monthly premium. Members share via an escrow account.

It also is the hardest to follow with two Member Responsibility Amounts (MRA). The first is the out of pocket before eligible needs are shared and is a per person amount. The second is the percentage amount the member is responsible after the first MRA is met but before the member is eligible for 100% sharing.

It has provisos for pre-existing conditions, maternity (for gold and silver memberships), prescriptions (via discount card), and chiropractic. Physical therapy is not generally going to be shareable unless relating to an eligible surgery. Dental, vision, adoption, and death are not shareable. It does allow 6 office visits annually up to $300 that is not subject to the MRAs (gold & silver plans).

Altrua also has the most comprehensive list of exclusions. It considers inline skating, trail running, skateboarding, water skiing, and many common recreational activities as extreme sports and injuries from them are not eligible for coverage.

For more details, you can compare all five health care sharing ministries HERE.

Is that All?

Health care sharing ministries are not going to be popping up all over the place. To be eligible for the Affordable Care Act exemption they had to have been in business since 1999. These are the options for those looking for insurance, that isn’t really insurance. As of January 2018, over 625,000 believers have joined these ministries and it’s easy to see why.

There’s a little something for everyone so long as you want to be a part of what they’re offering. They are affordable, they are largely understandable, and they make people feel good about where their hard earned money is actually going.

These ministries were around before ACA and will endure the ever-changing political tide. In the meantime, they offer their members a certain stability in a very volatile climate. Though, they do require one thing – you gotta have faith.

*This article is my personal health care experience and research. I am not a tax attorney or insurance professional. To the best of my knowledge, all of the information presented in this article is accurate and factual as of the time of publishing. Please consult your own professionals and independently confirm options.

Guide to Health Care Sharing Ministries

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  1. The CHM quarterly variable gift is the Brother’s keeper option & there is a $40 annual fee. It is not required.

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