While it is definitely worth the leap of faith to become self-employed, one thing is for sure.
Paying for your health insurance, after never having done so, is one of the biggest downsides to self-employment.
If you’re not prepared for the costs of buying your own insurance plan, it can be a huge pain.
I know because I left my corporate, 9-5 job last year, and the awesome insurance plan that went along with it.
If you don’t have insurance, are between jobs or need a new alternative, these ministries are a great option.
While not nearly as common as the ACA Marketplace or COBRA insurance, health care sharing ministries are a great way to protect yourself and your family.
In This Article
- What is a Health Sharing Plan?
- Top Healthcare Sharing Plans
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Healthcare Sharing Plans vs. ACA
- Who Might be a Good Fit for Health Sharing Plans
- Alternatives To Health Sharing Plans
What is a Health Sharing Plan?
Here’s everything you need to know about healthcare sharing programs as an alternative to traditional health insurance.
If this is the first time reading about this topic, you might be asking, “What are health care sharing ministries?” If this is you don’t worry, I was there too until last year.
Before starting a home-based business, I had never heard of medi-share ministries.
Now I read regularly about other self-employed bloggers, freelancers and people without insurance choosing them.
To clarify, medi-share ministries are not health care or health insurance.
And you must meet all requirements and/or have the same religious beliefs to be accepted into any medi-share ministry.
These are ways to help plan for unexpected expenses if you don’t have typical health insurance.
Health-sharing ministries are not a discounted insurance program and are totally different than traditional health insurance.
They are alternatives that will help you share the cost of expenses with others in your plan.
Medical cost-sharing ministries are a group of people who band together to help each other pay for medical expenses.
Unlike traditional health insurance plans, there is no network such as Blue Cross Blue Shield.
You can visit any provider of your choice and use your membership card when they ask for insurance.
Depending on the medi-share ministry, you will pay in person and be reimbursed, or they will be billed directly. This is very different than traditional health insurance.
Top Healthcare Sharing Plans
To help you narrow down the best option, here are the details on the most popular healthcare sharing ministry programs.
(For more specific questions and restrictions about medi-share ministries keep reading to the FAQs.)
Medi-Share is a healthcare sharing ministry that is very popular. Unlike some medi-share ministries, Medi-Share does help negotiate expenses on your behalf.
This feature is a huge benefit as it can be difficult to negotiate without the help of insurance providers.
Also, get up to 20% off your monthly share amount if you meet their health incentive requirements.
Another bonus for Medi-Share members: Free, unlimited virtual doctor visits with Medi-Share’s network of board-certified doctors.
Medi-Share bases its pricing on age, size of household, where you live, and the program option you choose.
There is an annual amount of qualifying medical bills that a family must meet before any eligible bill may be shared among the members.
Once you meet your annual household portion, all eligible bills will be processed for sharing for the entire household.
Not per person or event. It is one amount for the whole family for the year.
There are four AHP options to choose from:
For a family of four or more with a couple and two or more children, you would pay a monthly share amount of approximately:
- $741 for a $3,000 AHP
- $547 for a $6,000 AHP
- $431 for a $9,000 AHP
- $299 for a $12,000 AHP
Remember that these monthly amounts may vary based on where you live and other factors.
Members pay a $35 provider fee at each office or hospital visit and $200 for emergency room visits. It’s important to note these fees do not count towards the AHP.
You can also receive dental and vision discounts which helps your family finances.
Finally, a one-time $50 application fee per person applies.
Noteworthy: You need to be an active churchgoer and cannot vape to join this medi-share ministry.
What You Need to Know
To be a Medi-Share member, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Must have a valid Christian testimony indicating a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ
- Share the conviction that believers are to bear one another’s burdens
- Not engage in sex outside of traditional biblical marriage
- Not use tobacco or illegal drugs in any form
- Be a U.S citizen or a permanent resident with a visa or green card and SS number
Like other healthcare-sharing ministries, Medi-Share is not insurance but is still worth noting.
- Helps negotiate medical expenses
- Health incentive discount available
- Wide variety of program options to choose from
- Limited to those in the Christian religion
- No tobacco use
Learn More: Medi-Share Review
Medi-Share is currently waiving the app fee and new member fee through the end of the year (Value of $170 in savings)! Find out more by clicking here.
2. Samaritan Ministries
As stated on their website, “Samaritan Ministries members are a group of believers that have come together in Biblical community to help bear one another’s medical burdens without the use of health insurance.”
Samaritan Ministries are available in all 50 states and some foreign countries. The monthly sharing program expenses can vary as they depend on your marital status, age and the number of dependents.
They offer two packages; the Samaritan Basic and Samaritan Classic.
Here is an example of the breakdown for a married couple who are both 40 years old with one dependent.
Samaritan Basic / Samaritan Classic Plans
- Monthly share: $314/$596. This is based on plan, age and household size. It is the amount you send directly to other members each month.
- Initial Unshareable: $1,500/$400. The sharing programs only start once a need exceeds these two threshold amounts.
- Sharing Programs Percentage: 90%/100%. Once you are eligible for your shareable amount, 90 or 100% of anything additional is covered.
- Maternity Limit: $5,000/$250,000. This is the maximum that can be shared for any maternity need. If you are pregnant or plan on having children, the classic is the only way to go.
- Max Shareable Amount: $236,500/$250,000. This is the maximum amount that’s shareable per need.
What You Need to Know
Joining either of these Samaritan Ministries plans will cost you $200 as a one-time startup fee. This fee is non-refundable, even if you are only enrolled for a few months.
For any need over $250,000, you can join the optional, Save to Share plan. This is $399 per year, with a $15 annual administrative fee.
For the first two months of the membership, you will send payment to the office. After the first two months, you will then send payments directly to members in need.
With other ministries, you will send payment directly to them, and they will dispense to the recipients as needed.
One major downside about Samaritan is that you are responsible for negotiating with medical providers directly.
Lastly, if you wish to join this medi-share ministry, you do need to practice an evangelical faith.
- Range of plans amounts for various budgets
- No network restrictions for doctors, pharmacies, or hospitals
- Share your designated monthly fees with others you want to help
- $200 startup fee applies
- Limited to those in the Christian religion
3. Christian Healthcare Ministries
Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM) is an affordable, biblical and compassionate, faith-based healthcare cost solution for Christians in all 50 states and around the world.
CHM is a nonprofit health cost-sharing ministry in which Christians share each other’s medical bills. Again, this is not a typical insurance company.
They offer three main programs; gold, silver and bronze. You also have the ability to add on “Brother’s Keeper.”
This is a catastrophic medical bill program that increases your lifetime max per illness for anything over $125,000.
The annual fee for “Brother’s Keeper” is an additional $45 per family.
Gold Program ($205 per person, per month)
- The Gold program provides members with the ministry’s most extensive financial support.
- Christian Healthcare Ministries will cover 100% of bills for any medical incident over $500 up to $125,000 per illness.
- This is the only plan to cover maternity, tests, urgent care and physical therapy
- Financial assistance of up to $1 million with Brother’s Keeper (additional fee required).
Silver Program ($125 per person, per month)
- The silver program allows you $2,500 personal responsibility before CHM contributes.
- Once your $2,500 is met, you can receive up to $125,000 per illness.
- Brother’s Keeper increases $100,000 of extra support. You can accrue up to $1 million per illness (additional fee required).
- Eligible medical bills include inpatient or outpatient hospital treatment and surgery
Bronze Program ($85 per person, per month)
- The bronze program allows you $5,000 personal responsibility before CHM contributes.
- Once your $5,000 is met, you can receive up to $125,000 per illness.
- Brother’s Keeper increases $100,000 of extra support. Like other plans, you can accrue up to $1 million per illness (additional fee required).
- Inpatient and outpatient hospital incidents and surgery are the only covered costs
Using the previous example (40-year-old married couple with one dependent) here are the prices for each program:
- Gold Program: $615 per month
- Silver Program: $375 per month
- Bronze Program: $255 per month
Each person is known as “units.” For example, two people are equal to two units. The good news is that all children count as one unit so a family of three or more is only three units.
You can also choose different programs for different people on the plan.
For example, you can be on the gold program while a healthier spouse or child can be on the silver or bronze plan.
Mixing and matching will change the price listed above. If someone is healthier or younger, a bronze or silver plan can save you big each month.
What You Need to Know
To be a CHM member, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Must be Christians living by biblical principles (this includes abstaining from the use of tobacco and the illegal use of drugs)
- Follow biblical teaching on the use of alcohol, and attending group worship regularly if health permits
- There are no restrictions based on age, weight, geographic location or health history.
CHM does not help negotiate your bills or make payments in your name. Also, payments are sent directly to CHM.
- No restrictions based on health history
- Different programs for different health levels
- Variety of monthly share amounts for all budgets
- Limited to those in the Christian religion
- No tobacco use allowed
- Only Gold Plan shares maternity
The next medi-share plan we’ll talk about is Liberty HealthShare. Unlike Medi-Share, Liberty is available in all 50 states and has a strong reputation online.
Liberty Healthshare plans offer three programs; Liberty Unite, Liberty Connect and Liberty Essential.
All programs from Liberty Healthshare are based on single, couples and families. The prices are also based on three age brackets – under 35, 35-49 & over 50 (see guidelines for exceptions).
Liberty Unite Sharing Ministry Plan
Liberty Unite is the most comprehensive plan offered by Liberty HealthShare. All members share eligible medical costs up to $1,000,000 per incident.
The annual unshared amount with Liberty Healthshare is $1,000 for individuals, $1,750 for couples and $2,250 for families.
Here are the costs for the most expansive plan offered by Liberty Healthshare:
|Member Status||Monthly Fee|
Liberty Connect Sharing Ministry Plan
Liberty Connect is the mid-range plan offered by Liberty HealthShare. With this plan, all members share 85% of eligible medical costs up to $1,000,000 per incident.
The annual unshared amount for this Liberty Healthshare plan is currently at $1,000 for individuals, $2,000 for couples and $3,000 for families.
Here are the costs for the mid-range Liberty Healthshare plan:
|Member Status||Monthly Fee|
Liberty Essential Sharing Ministry Plan
Liberty Essential is the most basic plan offered by Liberty HealthShare and is great for those who are on a tight budget.
With this plan, Liberty Essential members share up to 75% of eligible medical costs up to $600,000 per incident.
Liberty HealthShare medical expenses are met on a per person per incident basis when treated by urgent care facilities, physicians, emergency rooms, clinics or hospitals.
This applies to both inpatient and outpatient services for your Liberty Healthshare plan.
The annual unshared amount for this Liberty HealthShare is $4,000 for individuals, $8,000 for couples and $12,000 for families.
Here are the costs for Liberty’s most basic medi-share plan:
|Member Status||Monthly Fee|
This plan covers basic needs for individuals, couples, and families, and is Liberty HealthShare’s most affordable monthly plan.
What You Need to Know
To be a Liberty HealthShare member, you must meet the following qualifications:
- Agree to share one another’s burdens and all other shared beliefs mentioned in their comprehensive qualifications page.
- Believe that your body is a temple
- Eat foods that nourish your body, not harm it
- Do not drink alcohol in excess
- Do not use tobacco products
- Exercise regularly
- Worship regularly with others
Additionally, you can check out Liberty Healthshare legal notice for specific state regulatory notices and notation that they are “not an insurance company and that it does not guarantee payment of medical costs. Our role is to enable self-pay patients to help fellow Americans through voluntary financial gifts.”
For our readers, we want to be transparent in acknowledging Liberty Healthshare is being sued in federal court by a Florida-based health system.
- No network restrictions on doctors, hospitals, pharmacies
- Some discounts available on vision, chiropractic care, etc.
- Health coaching available
- Must agree to live a Biblical lifestyle
- Strict rules on alcohol/tobacco use
Sedera offers a transparent, affordable approach to medical cost sharing.
This medi-share company operates in nearly every state in the U.S. with the exception of Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington state and Vermont.
Sedera bases your out-of-pocket costs on one of five membership health share plans. We’ll outline the plans next.
The health share plans do not include your Direct Primary Care Monthly Membership fees.
The plans are based on your age and the number of people in your family.
The Initial Unshareable Amount (IUA) is the amount you have to pay out-of-pocket per year before costs are shared with the company.
The costs listed here include costs for all ages.
- Member only: $208 to $601 per month
- Member & spouse: $396 to $1181
- Member & child(ren): $381 to $1127
- Member & family: $574 to $1713
- Member only: $195 to $517
- Member & spouse: $370 to $1013
- Member & child(ren): $357 to $968
- Member & family: $538 to $1469
- Member only: $174 to $481
- Member & spouse: $328 to $942
- Member & child(ren): $317 to $900
- Member & family: $477 to $1366
- Member only: $153 to $435
- Member & spouse: $286 to $849
- Member & child(ren): $278 to $812
- Member & family: $416 to $1232
- Member only: $113 to $351
- Member & spouse: $207 to $681
- Member & child(ren): $202 to $653
- Member & family: $300 to $988
There are additional costs for tobacco users and other costs too. See the Sedera website for more information.
What You Need to Know
Sedera has member guidelines as well. They call their guidelines “Principles of Membership”.
Some of the Principles of Membership include abstaining from the use of illegal substances, a commitment to practice good health and lifestyle measures.
Also, you need to agree to understand that Sedera is a benevolence organization and that they don’t guarantee payment of medical expenses.
For more information on Sedera, visit their website at the link above.
- Members not limited by religion
- Patient responsibilities more flexible than some other companies
- Variety of monthly costs for every budget
- Some patient responsibility to negotiate prices and find low cost healthcare
- Unavailable in some states
US Healthshare isn’t a healthcare sharing ministry per se. Instead, it’s a company that helps you compare all Christian healthshare companies.
When you go to the US Healthshare website, you can work with a licensed insurance specialist to help you find the right health sharing program for you.
You will first have to share your basic information to get started.
Since healthcare sharing ministry programs aren’t actually health insurance, it’s important to know exactly how it works. And it’s important to know which health sharing plan is best for you.
For that reason, US Healthshare can be a great resource. This is because the company’s representatives get healthshare plan quotes from all of the major healthcare sharing ministries.
So if you’re looking to save both time and money on your healthcare sharing plan, consider using US Healthshare.
- One-stop shop to compare many health care sharing companies
- Makes health care sharing plan comparison easier
- Not an actual health care sharing company
Frequently Asked Questions
If you’re thinking about signing up for a health care sharing plan, here are answers to some of the most common questions.
In most cases, you will present your health sharing ministries membership card upon arrival. In essence, everyone in the ministry pays a specified amount each month.
This is known as an annual personal responsibility or unshared amount. Think of it similar to a deductible in a traditional health insurance program.
If your medical bills go past a specific amount, then the expenses are shared by the group within your ministry.
If you need to pay some doctors or medical providers with cash, you will be reimbursed by the ministry.
While none of these plans are health insurance, they have similarities to major plans.
Instead of paying a monthly premium (like in health insurance), you pay monthly amounts for yourself and your family.
Each plan also has different requirements and total covered amounts per event.
Each health sharing plan has its own restrictions and qualifications.
Make sure you read through them carefully to ensure you qualify and are eligible to enroll in the specific plan.
Yes, all the plans mentioned above do allow families. Each plan will be different, but each adult must meet all the requirements on each site.
The fees are higher as the costs are dependent upon the number of people enrolled in the health sharing plan.
As members of a non-insurance health care sharing ministry, members have an exemption from the federal requirement that they must have insurance or pay a penalty tax.
Yes, similar to not having any insurance claims, you are still responsible for making your monthly payments (or share) even if you don’t incur medical expenses.
The protocols for pre-existing conditions are different for each medi-share ministry. Some of them might not allow you to be eligible for the first year of your membership like Liberty Healthshare.
Some of them may not cover pre-existing conditions at all. So be sure to read the fine print or ask the medi-share ministry directly about your health situation.
No, from what I’ve researched, there are not six or 12-month terms. But, if you miss a payment or it’s late, your service will become inactive, and you might need to re-enroll.
Technically, yes, you can enroll in both. However, it would most likely be much more expensive.
On Liberty’s site, it notes that some members enroll simply to help others and never plan on submitting bills.
It depends. Some ministries require you to submit a statement of faith. Others won’t.
Check to see if the plan you are considering requires a statement of faith before applying.
Healthcare Sharing Plans vs. ACA
Now that you have learned about health care sharing ministries, you should take time and compare them with your current plan. Figure out what will work best for you and your family.
You might want to stick with traditional insurance if you do any of the following:
1. Take prescription drugs
Some medi-share plans won’t cover all medications and prescriptions, unlike ACA plans.
Paying prescriptions without any type of insurance can be incredibly expensive!
2. Indulge in tobacco use
If you use tobacco, none of the medi-share ministries above will allow you to enroll.
While this might be a good reason to stop using tobacco, know that it is not permitted with any of these medi-share plans.
3. Have an HSA (health savings account)
Unfortunately, you can’t pair an HSA with a health care sharing plan to save even more on taxes.
If you do have a HSA compatible plan already, though, check out Lively, which is Free, FDIC insured, and it takes about 5 minutes to set up.
4. Have a chronic or pre-existing condition
Some, but not all, medi-share plans won’t allow you to enroll if you have chronic or pre-existing medical conditions.
Even if you have a recurring condition, I’d recommend sticking with traditional health coverage.
Recurring incidents will be charged each time as a new medical service even though it might be treating the same issue.
Who Might be a Good Fit for Health Sharing Plans
Healthcare Sharing ministries won’t be for everyone, but they might be a good fit for:
- A Christian who likes the idea of sharing costs with like-minded individuals. If you believe in helping others and sharing costs, this is a great option.
- You want to use doctors in different networks and areas. With these ministries, you don’t have to worry if your provider is in-network or out-of-network. This can be a huge benefit for someone who doesn’t love going to one provider or wants multiple opinions on complex medical conditions.
- People who live in expensive ACA states. Each individual’s costs will be different, but some states are much higher costs than health sharing plans.
- Healthy individuals. These plans can be great if you rarely go to the doctor but want a safety net in case something big does come up.
Alternatives To Health Sharing Plans
If you are self employed and looking for a competitive insurance option, check out Sidecar Health which is another affordable alternative to ACA plans.
They have a 4.4 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and A+ rating with the BBB.
Switching from traditional health coverage to a health sharing plan is always an option.
If you’ve been enrolled in a traditional insurance plan, it might feel like a big difference, but it can save you thousands each year
Health-sharing plans are much less expensive, generally have a lower deductible, lower annual costs and helps you share the cost with other like-minded individuals.
But, if you have chronic medical conditions, prescriptions or don’t meet the faith requirements, stick with traditional insurance.