As open enrollment nears for many health insurance plans, I thought this would be a great time to give you an update on Medi-Share, the health sharing ministry that we are using in place of traditional health insurance. This is our first year and we unexpectedly put it to the test over the summer. So far, the ministry has been working seamlessly.
Health insurance has been a long winding road for us over the last few years. I laid everything out for you regarding our health insurance dilemma, including the numbers, in this post:
After a lot of thought at the end of 2016, we decided to take a leap of faith (pun intended) and try Medi-Share, a health sharing ministry that is promoted as a biblical and affordable solution to traditional health insurance. It was effective on January 1, 2017 and to be honest, I didn’t think I would have much to say about it through out the year. We generally don’t have a lot of medical bills–just the usual stuff like annual physicals, some blood work, and an occasional sick visit. We have had high deductible health insurance plans since 2004 and during that time, we only hit our deductible one year.
Everything changed very suddenly on Saturday, June 25, 2017 when one of my children started complaining. Due to her privacy, I won’t go into specifics at this time, but I honestly thought her problem was related to allergies.
I’m so glad I didn’t blow her off. She was very emotional about her ailment, so first thing Monday morning I called the doctor and got her an appointment on Tuesday.
At that appointment, the doctor immediately referred us to a specialist, and told us to “go straight to his office. DO NOT STOP!” Puzzled and slightly frantic, we drove straight to the new office and met with a specialist. He examined our daughter and immediately set up a procedure under anesthesia for Friday morning.
In a whirlwind, I scheduled everything before I left the office, but as I was driving home, it hit me that I never looked to see if this specialist was a participating provider in the network at Medi-Share. I knew I needed to check this as soon as I got home, but this doctor’s office had beaten me to it and they were calling me as I pulled into my driveway.
I spent the next two hours on the phone with the doctors and with Medi-Share. The specialist was a participating provider, but the hospital where the procedure would be performed was NOT on the list. The doctor personally called me to tell me that the procedure would be very expensive if performed at an out of network hospital, so he had arranged for my daughter’s case to be transferred to another specialist at another hospital that was in network. He had his scheduling assistant call Medi-Share to confirm to save us the time.
This doctor actually felt that the new specialist would work out well, because she was not only participating, but also a pediatric specialist in this field. He also pushed for my daughter to be seen immediately at the new office and got her in the next morning on Wednesday.
As a side note, my husband and I were really impressed with this doctor and his scheduling assistant’s level of customer service. Their focus was on my daughter’s care, but their business. Kudos to them!
By Thursday morning, our daughter was under anesthesia for 3 hours as prescribed by the new specialist. We sat in the waiting room praying and fielding calls and texts from our family members who were rightfully concerned.
As we were waiting, I couldn’t help but notice the hustle and bustle of this hospital. It’s a very large teaching hospital, and in the back of mind, I kept hearing cha-ching, cha-ching. With my husband’s encouragement, we decided to focus on our daughter’s recovery and healing and we would deal with the medical bills when the time came.
July and August brought us follow up appointments, a second procedure under anesthesia, although not as lengthy as the first one, and a lot of medical bills.
As of today, Sept 13, 2017, when I’m writing this post, we have received all of the medical bills from all appointments through July. On the spreadsheet below, you’ll see that we hit the Annual Household Portion (AHP) in July. Also, the medical bills past the AHP started to be paid by Medi-Share. I haven’t received bills yet for August procedures, so I thought this would be a good time for an update.
How Medi-Shared has worked for us thru July:
Please read my initial post: Why We Chose Medi-Share. It goes into great detail of how this sharing ministry works. Medi-Share is NOT health insurance. Instead it is a cost sharing ministry where members share the burden of our medical bills. However, there are features of Medi-Share that resemble traditional health insurance and that’s one of the reasons why we chose it
Our monthly share (think: a premium) started at $343 in January. This amount was determined by the age of my husband, the number of people in our family, and the amount of the annual household portion (think: deductible). We chose a $10,000 annual household portion. That might seem like a lot of money (and it certainly is!), but we became accustomed to a high deductible over the years as our deductibles increased in the traditional health insurance market. We’re used to paying for a lot our medical expenses.
Again, read all about our numbers from previous years in this post: Why We Left Traditional Health Insurance.
In April 2017, our monthly share was reduced to $282 a month because we qualified for a healthy discount. Yay for discounts!
Recap of the numbers for dates of service through July:
Total amount billed from providers: $35,097.07
Total discount from using in network providers: $12,049.82 (34%)
Outstanding medical bills: $23,047.25
Our Out of Pocket Portion: $10,865.81 This includes the $35 down payment per date of service, our $10,000 annual household portion, and bills that were not shareable, such as preventative appointments.
Medical Bills that were shared: $12,181.44 What does “shared” mean? These bills were paid by the shares of other members of Medi-Share.
Our monthly shares (premium) have totaled through July $2157, vs $5600 for monthly premiums for the same time period last year. Our least expensive option for 2017 in the traditional health insurance market would have cost about $1600 a month, or $11,700 for the same time period of January through July. **LET THAT PARAGRAPH SOAK IN!! IT BLOWS ME AWAY!!**
(Please note, we have never had eye or dental insurance while in the individual market, so this list does not include include those bills. I did not include them in my numbers in the previous post and I want to keep everything consistent.)
By all appearances, Medi-Share is working as expected for us. We hit our annual household portion of $10k in July and now the bills that are considered medically necessary will be paid from the shares of other member. Preventative care is not considered shareable and is paid out of our pocket, but we do benefit from the discount if we use an in network provider.
As of today, we plan to renew with Medi-Share for 2018. We have yet to decide if we will lower our Annual Household Portion to $7,500. We will run those numbers later in the year before we make a decision.
Our daughter’s condition is not life-threatening, but it remains to be seen how life-altering it will be. She will have many years of follow up appointments, possible procedures, and medications. Due to her privacy, I won’t go into any more specifics than that, but we do welcome your prayers for her healing.
What We Are Doing with the Savings:
As you read above, we are saving considerably on a monthly basis on premiums vs. last year, and what we would have spent this year had we purchased from the health exchange. At the beginning of the year, we put some of those monthly savings towards paying off a home equity loan. However, due to depleting the $10k we had set aside, we must now build our savings for future medical bills. Unfortunately, we can’t contribute to a health savings account, per IRS rules, but we opened up a regular savings account earmarked strictly for our medical bills.
Medi-Share is still fairly new to us and it is a learning process, but so far we have been very pleased with the organization, blessed by its members, and thankful for an affordable solution to our very own health insurance crisis. For more information on Medi-Share:
Are you a member of health cost sharing ministry? If so, which one? What has your experience been like? Why did you choose the ministry that you went with? Or, maybe this is a new concept to you. Is this something that you could use? Share your experience in the comments.
Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. However, any link directly to Medi-Share’s website is my referral link. All members receive a referral link upon becoming a member. I only suggest products that I believe in. Please note that we are still very new consumers of Medi-Share, but this is my honest opinion.