Updated: April 1st, 2019
What is Christian Healthcare Ministries?
Christian Healthcare Ministries, often referred to as CHM is one of the oldest and most popular health sharing ministries in the United States. Christian Healthcare Ministries has existed to biblically and faithfully support the needs of their members since 1981. Their purpose is to glorify God and serve His people. Christians have a two thousand year history of meeting each others needs. This is simply a modern interpretation of that tradition.
CHM is not a traditional insurance company, they are a Christian ministry that can help cover any medical costs and medical expenses. While there are many terms for this type of ministry such as “health shares”, “health sharing ministries”, and “health care sharing ministry”, Christian Healthcare Ministries refers to themselves as a “health cost sharing ministry”. They claim to be the nation’s first and longest-serving Christian health cost sharing ministry.
Christian Healthcare Ministries has shared over $3.5 billion in healthcare costs for its members and they have been featured on The Dave Ramsey Show. In 2018 alone, CHM shared $388,722,857 in healthcare bills. Additionally, CHM is A Better Business Bureau A+ Accredited Charity.
How Christian Healthcare Ministries Works
Christian Healthcare Ministries isn’t traditional health insurance, it’s ministry. Medical expenses can add up quickly, and this is a way for you to take control of your healthcare costs. Christian Healthcare Ministries is simply Christian members working together to take control of healthcare costs.
As a member, you will send preset monthly financial gifts to ministry, and those gifts are used to share eligible medical bills sent in by yourself or fellow members.
Below, Christian Healthcare Ministries provides an example of how their ministry could help you pay for your annual healthcare costs.
“Example: You receive treatment early in the year for a gallbladder problem. Your bills total $7,500 and you receive $2,500 in healthcare provider discounts.Christian Healthcare Ministries shares $5,000 ($7,500-$2,500), which is 100 percent of the cost after discounts. In the middle of the same year you have some blood tests done (for an unrelated illness) that cost $400. Christian Healthcare Ministries does not share any of these bills because the total cost of the incident is less than $500. At the end of the year, you break your arm and the treatment amounts to $2,500. CHM shares the entire amount of $2,500 because the incident totals more than $500 and the treatment meets all other Christian Healthcare Ministries Guidelines.” – Christian Healthcare Ministries”
Additionally, Christian Healthcare Ministries is an eligible option for individuals and families under the national healthcare law. Under the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), Christian Healthcare Ministries is an allowable option to meet the law’s individual mandate for health cost coverage.
There are additional benefits to enrolling in a care ministry like CHM. The first benefit is that with Christian Healthcare Ministries, the program costs below do not change based on your health history. There are not any medical tests or physical evaluations required in order to join Christian Healthcare Ministries. Pre-existing conditions that are actively undergoing treatment at the time you join CHM cannot be shared. However, any costs associated with maintenance treatment for a pre-existing condition might be shared through Christian Healthcare Ministries.
The second benefit is that unlike a traditional insurance plan, you have the ability to negotiate your treatment price in the same way you would negotiate when buying a car. This allows you to lower the cost of treatment before sharing the cost with CHM.
Finally, you do not need treatment approvals before receiving medical care. CHM shares bills for most generally accepted and reputable medical procedures. However, CHM does not share bills for alternative treatments or chiropractic care. Members should research the eligible and ineligible expenses.
Pricing for Christian Healthcare Ministries
Above, you can see a pricing comparison between the 3 programs available.
Christian Healthcare Ministries is over 65% less expensive than the national average for health insurance.
Pricing for being a member of Christian Healthcare Ministries is determined by the number of people that will be enrolled. They refer to each individual as a “unit”. If you’re just one person, you would be one unit. However, the most amount of units you ever have to pay for is 3. So if you were a family of 5, you are still only paying for 3 units. This helps manage affordability for families with multiple children.
There are three participation levels: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. The benefits and responsibilities for these sharing programs are detailed below.
The Gold program is Christian Healthcare Ministries highest and most extensive program. The program costs $150 per unit per month. For an individual, you only have to pay for $150/month. For a family of 5, you’re looking at $450 a month — which is still fairly inexpensive for an entire family. CHM will share “100 percent of bills for any medical incident exceeding $500 as long as all the other guidelines are met.”
The second tier down is Silver. Silver costs $85 per unit per month This is very similar to the Gold program with assistance up to $125,000 per illness; however, your personal responsibility is $1,000 per incident instead of $500.
The lowest tier is the Bronze program. At the Bronze level, the pricing is $45 per unit per month. The assistance is the same as the other two but your personal responsibility per incident jumps up to $5,000.
Christian Healthcare Ministries has a program for extraordinary expenses. For example, if a member was to get cancer, they could enroll in the Brother’s Keeper program in order to share bills beyond $125,000.
The breakdown for Brother’s Keeper is as follows:
“Gold level members: Signing up for Brother’s Keeper provides unlimited cost support per illness (diagnosis).
Silver and Bronze members: Signing up for Brother’s Keeper provides an additional $100,000 of cost support. With each annual Brother’s Keeper renewal, participants receive an additional $100,000 of assistance, up to $1 million per illness.
For medical needs exceeding $125,000, Brother’s Keeper members send a quarterly designated gift amount (average amount: $25 per membership unit) to the CHM office, where it is deposited in an audited escrow account. There is also a $40 annual, nonrefundable fee per membership.
Members receive a quarterly Brother’s Keeper letter stating their quarterly gift amount and the name of a fellow Brother’s Keeper member who has medical bills. They are asked to send cards and letters of encouragement to these fellow Christians.”
Signing Up For Christian Healthcare Ministries
Signing up for Christian Healthcare Ministries is fairly easy. They have an application page where they ask for information on you and, if applicable, your family. After submitting the application, you will be contacted by CHM for further instructions on how to enroll into the health sharing ministry.
How To Pay For Christian Healthcare Ministries
Christian Healthcare Ministries seem to have a pretty simple process for paying. Your program costs each month can be drafted from your account and sent straight to CHM — you don’t need to worry about sending your money to actual members.
CHM also stress that it is YOU that will be handling your healthcare. They state that all bills must be sent directly to you in which you can then send on to CHM. There are some ministries out there that will deal with the provider directly so you don’t have to stress out about all the bills, but this doesn’t seem to be one of them.
What are some alternatives to Christian Healthcare Ministries?
There are several other programs that offer health shares for those seeking an alternative to traditional insurance. Some of these programs offer the same Christian ideals as Christian Healthcare Ministries, but there are also secular options as well.
Some of the Christian Healthshare alternatives are: Samaritan Ministries, Solidarity Healthshare, and Christian Care Ministry. Samaritan Ministries is a Christian healthshare that is one of the most religious-centered health share options. Unlike Christian Healthcare Ministry, you do not send your monetary contribution to the organization, and instead, you send the funds directly to the person in need.
Solidarity Healthshare is a Christian healthshare that is very similar to the popular Liberty Healthshare. Solidarity Healthshare is known for the ease with which you can submit claims and receive customer support. However, Solidarity Healthshare has a specific Catholic lean which is great if you are Catholic and less convenient if you are not.
Medi-share is the final additional option listed here. According to their website, Medi-Share has 300,145 members since June 2017. If this is true, Medi-Share is potentially the largest healthsharing organization in the country. Additionally, they claim to have shared over $1 Billion dollars among its members. Its pricing is straightforward and their religious status allows them to be exempt from the penalty exemption that many face for not having health insurance.
For more information, please see CHMinistires.org.
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