Health insurance premiums seem to keep rising every single year. This is getting really expensive and some people are looking for creative ways to cut cost in their health care. Some people are raising their deductible, eliminating co pays, and taking on more risk rather than transferring it to the insurance carrier. Others are going for discount health plans which work well until a major medical event happens. Some are avoiding health insurance, and some are now turning to Christian ministry “Sharing” plans.
Some Christian sharing plans include Christian Brotherhood, Medi-Share, and Samaritan Ministries. In these plans, members pay monthly dues to cover the administrative fees and associated with the plans. On top of that members will also pay their share of others burdens. These plans are trying to base them selves on the biblical principal lade out in Galatians 6, which states “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This statement is true and God’s word, however these plans are not always the best way to go.
First and foremost, these plans are not insurance. This fact alone can create issues when you are dealing with them. What happens when your claim is not paid? They are not insurance so they are not regulated by any state’s insurance departments. There’s also no guaranteed funds which come in and help should the plan fail you. These plans also do not cover some medical conditions, such as STD’s, abortion, mental illness, and often substance abuse treatment.
There’s really not any guarantee that the claims will be paid at all. It would not be uncommon for a provider to refuse to treat you for an expensive procedure unless you can prove that you are capable of paying the bill. This means that you might have to put your home or other investments as collateral.
There are a lot of worries about these plans, but what happens in reality? Is it truly Christians trying to help one another, or is it a scam? It depends on the organization. It was revealed that Bruce Hawthorn, founder of the Christian Brotherhood had embezzled money from the ministry for his personal gain. This meant that over $34 million in unpaid medical bills could have their payments delayed nearly a year and a half.
Some members of these organizations are quite happy and have found it to be exactly what they need. While others worry about the lack of accountability and regulation that normal insurance companies have. Their intentions are good, but sometimes that is not enough. These plans exist, and are out there. You can consider them an option, but do a lot of research before becoming a member, so that you know what you are getting into, what will be covered, and how much you will be paying.