Ministry allows families to share medical expenses

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With three young sons, the last thing the Wagner family wants to spend time worrying about is just what their health insurance covers.

Rand Wagner says with traditional insurance that was a problem. "One of the things I experienced with insurance the traditional insurance back when we lived in Washington was…it just seemed like with our deductibles and our co-pays we were constantly paying out of pocket throughout the year. We finally get to the end of the year, we finally have all of our deductibles met, insurance never actually kicks in, and then we start back over January 1."

Wagner says they have found a new way to meet medical expenses that helps them stay healthy and saves money at the same time. "I felt and I thought at the time, that it was basically a steal, in terms of healthcare."

Well they are not stealing, they are sharing...sharing medical expenses with other families, through something called medi-share. Christian Care Ministry President Robert Baldwin explains. "It simply brings Christians together to share each other’s medical bills on a monthly basis in a way that is not insurance but rather is a co-op type of feel to it. Most of our members tell us it is more affordable than health insurance."

Baldwin says members, like the Wagners pay a monthly amount and the money is used to pay approved medical expenses of other members. "Since this is a member-driven program, the members decide what type of bills they want to share with each other and what type of bills they don't." Baldwin says that means some things covered by traditional insurance, like an annual physical, are not covered.

"Our ministry is really founded on the verse of Galatians 6:2 which is carry each other's burdens ,but we don't believe a regular doctor’s visit, say your annual doctor’s visit is really a burden.  It should be something you can take care of but when the true burden strikes, say cancer or a broken leg or a car accident that is when other members are there for you."

Likewise most long-term prescriptions are not covered. "We believe it is advisable for members to work with a wellness coach to change their lifestyle in such a way that they don't have to be on those maintenance-type medications." 

The Wagners say when they truly need the program, from emergency room visits to the delivery of their third son, it has been there. "If it is covered, it is covered in full and we liked that aspect of it," meaning less time spent worrying about healthcare and more time spent sharing laughter with their kids.

There is a minimum charge for each incident. For the Wagner's, it is $250 but after that the expense is fully covered. There is a $1 million per person/ per year maximum.  Members must agree to live a Christian lifestyle, no illegal drugs, no extra-marital sex, and moderate alcohol use, all of which helps promote health and keeps costs low. 

Members of such programs are also able to opt out of the requirement to buy health insurance, included in the new healthcare law.

For more information you can check out medi-share.org or mychristiancare.org online or call (800) 772-5623.