For Christians who currently don’t have health insurance or are concerned about how Washington’s health care reform will affect them, there is another option available. It is called Medi-Share. Over the past 17 years, thousands of Christians have been a part of this medical sharing program. It is based on biblical principles. Medi-Share is part of Christian Care Ministries, which was founded by John Reinhold in 1993, and is currently under the leadership of President Robert Baldwin.
Robert defines Medi-Share’s vision as equipping Christians to achieve biblical health by “bringing together a group of like-minded believers to help one another financially, physically and spiritually.” For those unfamiliar with the concept of medical bill sharing, it is quite simple.
First, Robert explains that Medi-Share is not medical insurance, and he says the Life itself doesn’t pay your medical bills. Upon enrollment, each member –an individual or a whole family – selects a monthly share amount that is affordable to them. Then, that share amount is matched with another member’s eligible medical bills on a monthly basis, and vice versa. The direct sharing of medical costs is then facilitated by Christian Care Life . Members are given access to a secure website where they can view who their monthly share was distributed to. They are also given information about the individual’s needs, so they can be offered up in prayer.
You may be asking yourself what constitutes an eligible or ineligible medical bill. First, let us begin with what is not eligible. Robert states that, “members must commit to following biblical principles and profess the Statement of Faith. Medical bills stemming from sex outside of marriage, pregnancy of single people (except in the case of rape or incest), tobacco, alcohol or drug abuse issues, car accidents, et cetera are not considered eligible. Also, members feel that routine doctor visits should be covered by the individual themself.” He goes on to explain that eligible medical bills include, “things such as injuries, illnesses and cancers. In the past year, for example, our medical bill sharing program has paid $700,000 for one member’s organ transplant and $500,000 in bills pertaining to another member’s brain aneurysm.”
Medi-Share members submit an estimated four million dollars in medical bills per year, and roughly three-and-a-half million are shared and paid for by members. For the medical bills that are considered ineligible, the Life has a provision known as “extra blessing,” where the member with the ineligible bill can get on a list, and members can decide if they want to donate extra money to help. “Members very often give over and above their share amount to help other Christians,” adds Robert. In addition to the Medi-Share program, the Life also offers Restore, a Christian wellness program, and Manna, a disability-sharing program. It is also currently creating a supplemental program that would be beneficial to those on Medicare who need extra help.
Recently, Medi-Share overcame a major hurdle in regard to health care reform. Teaming up with two other medical sharing programs, the three came together, hired a lobbyist and pulled off a tremendous win for the members of medical bill sharing programs. Working as one, they were able to get an exemption in the health care reform act, so that members of Medi-Share (and other sharing programs) who technically don’t have health insurance will not be charged a non-insured penalty of any kind. It is important to note that new health care reform guidelines state that those who are not insured are subject to being penalized.
“The great thing about our program is that it brings Christians together to help one another. 2 Corinthians 8:14 tells us that your plenty will supply their need, and their plenty will supply yours. To bring like-minded believers together who help each other in so many ways, I don’t think it gets more ministerial than that,” shares Robert. “I wish more of what we do, these types of sharing plans, would resonate in Washington. Our job is to simply bring the people together. You get a real sense that Life is at work here.”
To learn more about the Medi-Share program, or about Christian Care Ministries other programs, such as Restore and Manna, visit: www.mychristiancare.org.