Many healthcare ministries are available to explore, and I’ll only discuss the biggest players. Medishare is the oldest on the block. Christian Healthcare Ministries is one of the most affordable and offers help for pre-existing conditions. Samaritan Ministries embraces alternative care. Liberty Healthshare is a new one, and lots of people are loving it. There are also some specifically Catholic and Mormon medical ministries out there, but I’m less familiar with those. (Update: CFO Curo is a Catholic medical ministry and I’ve included details below.)
All the ministries have financial limits on each need. However, most of the ministries also have an additional program one can elect to participate in that would offer a way for more financial coverage if required. For example, a family signing up with Samaritan’s has a per-need limit of $250k. But they also offer an additional ministry participation called Save-to-Share. Families participating in Save-To-Share agree to set aside an additional monthly share for any needs greater than $250k and send in whatever amount is called upon of that each month. There is still a limit with Samartian’s even for the Save-To-Share members. Any one need is limited to 50% of the funds on reserve. Historically, this has meant a limit of $8.5million for one need.
I also believe (though this could have changed), each ministry does not pay for well-visits/preventive care. So, those visits must be budgeted for. I’m certain Samaritan’s does not, but please verify that about the other ministries. (Medishare has limited sharing for well-visits up to age 6 – excludes vaccines. Liberty Healthshare actually does share the cost of most vaccines.)
Some brief notes about each individual ministry:
Medishare functions very much like insurance. Members choose a plan level with varying monthly costs and co-pays and out of pocket yearly responsibilities. Medishare prefers providers join a particular network. Zero consideration for helping support medical needs arising from amoral acts (drug use, drunk driving, out of wedlock pregnancy, etc.). There looks to be some minimal coverage of pre-existing conditions that are symptom and treatment free on a limited basis. Alternative care will not be shared ever. Well-child visits/labs are shared until the age of 6 (excludes vaccinations). Marvin Greer is a good source of information for Medishare!
Christian Healthcare Ministry: Members choose their level of participation (gold, silver, bronze) varying by monthly share and out of pocket yearly amounts. No sharing occurs for any alternative care; even physical therapy is not shared. Medical transportation is only shared if it is from one facility to another – it will not be shared from the scene of an accident/need to a hospital. (Often local municipalities offer a separate insurance you can purchase). Zero consideration for helping support medical needs arising from amoral acts (drug use, drunk driving, out of wedlock pregnancy, etc.) CHM does offer financial support for pre-existing conditions on a limited, sliding scale.
Samaritan’s Ministry: Families send money directly to other families. Monthly cost is a function of a plan chosen (basic vs. classic) and family size (they break it down to families of 1, 2, 3-7, 8+, and widowed/divorced with children). No sharing of pre-existing conditions (conditions may cease to be pre-existing after a time period.) Considers needs arising from immoral acts on a case-by-case basis. Coverage for RX/supplement needs are limited to 120 days (some exceptions for pregnancy).
Liberty Healthshare: At the time I was researching, there was a $1 million/$125k/70% of $125k limit on any need sharing with no recourse if more funds were required. Alternative care requires pre-approval.
CMF Curo: This is a Catholic extension of Samaritan’s Ministry. The reason for the link between the two is that when CMF sought to create a group, under ACA guidelines, they could not start something new after 1999. They chose to link to Samaritan’s because of the same financial abstinence Samaritan’s has (no cost sharing for abortion, ectopic pregnancies, and contraception). All guidelines are exactly the same as Samaritan’s, including cost + $84/mo. I contacted CMF Curo to understand the differences between them and Samaritan. The statement of faith Samaritan’s puts forth may pose challenges for Catholics, though that is addressed by CMF. The specific differences include:
1. 2 full time lobbyists in Washington
2. ID Card to present (although Samaritans recently made these too)
3. The ID card acts as a preloaded debit card also to pay for pre approved procedures. (Although I just mail in contracts or estimates from providers and have the money sent to me. I’ve already paid the hospital for my csection.)
4. Membership to Formed (described as a Catholic Netflix)
5. Access to Asset Health – a health coaching service.
Check out my Medical Ministries Comparison Chart to view a side-by-side comparison of these medical ministries.