Christian Healthcare Ministries: an in-depth explanation and review

 

INTRODUCTION
Greetings! I’m glad you’re here. If you’re reading this you’re likely here because you are interested in the topic of healthcare (who isn’t these days?), or you’re searching for a healthcare option that is genuine and affordable. Good news, I’ve found an option that sounds too good to be true, but certainly is not. I am going to introduce to you a tiered cost-sharing ministry that is much more wallet-friendly than insurance company alternatives, and allows you the experience of hands-on management over your healthcare.

ABOUT ME
I’m your average, healthy, middle class Christian woman. My family brings in a median salary that covers all of our bills and allows us a few extra pleasures each month. However, due to the recent overhaul in our nation’s healthcare system I cannot afford health insurance. My family may be financially comfortable, but finding room to add in another $200-400 per month bill to risk an out-of-pocket $2000+ deductible is beyond the budget.

THE NEW OPTION
Enter, Christian Healthcare Ministries. This company is not insurance, nor does it claim to be. It is defined as a nonprofit cost-sharing ministry that uses a member’s monthly “gift” (in place of a premium) that is deposited into an escrow account paid into by all other members. When a member is in need of medical care, there is a simple yet hands-on process that takes place to have medical bills paid in full.

THE PROCESS
When a member needs medical care, they are to seek it immediately.  After the member has received bills from their provider(s) they are to submit a few simple documents along with itemized bills. When CHM receives these bills, they follow up with your provider(s) to obtain a discount on your behalf. During this time, the member is responsible for paying the bill either in entirety or by making minimum monthly payments. When and if a discount is received by CHM they will then go over your paperwork and cut you a check, less your “personal responsibility” (in place of a deductible) for the amount you owe your provider. The member will use the reimbursed finances to pay any remaining balance with their provider(s).

THE PLANS
There are three plans to choose from with CHM: Bronze for $45/month, Silver for $85/month, and Gold for $150/month. I am a member under the Gold plan, which I think is the most cost-effective solution for long-term membership. The primary differences between the plans are the obvious gift amount per month, the personal responsibility amount and qualification, and the kind of coverage allowed.

Click the image to enlarge and view CHM programs.

 

COST SHARING QUALIFICATION
Keep in mind that all plans with CHM have differing “personal responsibility” amounts — these are treated like a deductible. Not like insurance companies, CHM has a per incident system of reaching your full personal responsibility amount before full cost sharing begins. Once you have reached your full personal responsibility within an incident, your costs are available to be covered in full. For Gold plan members, when  you have reached your full personal responsibility within an incident, your costs are available to be covered in full and your personal responsibility amount is waived for the year in all other incidents.

For example:

SCENARIO 1:   You have a personal responsibility of $500 per month. You suddenly come down with a case of strep throat and must seek medical attention, resulting in bills for an office visit at $150 and lab tests for $200, totaling $350. This incident would not reach nor count toward the $500 threshold of personal responsibility. Not eligible for cost sharing, and you are responsible for payment in full.

SCENARIO 2:   You have a personal responsibility of $500 per month. You suffer a fall and break your leg and require advanced medical care, resulting in bills for an office visit at $150, an x-ray scan for $200, and a surgery for $4000, totaling $4350. This incident would reach and surpass the $500 threshold of personal responsibility. Eligible for cost sharing, and you are responsible only for your $500 personal responsibility. If on the Gold plan, all personal responsibility is waived for the rest of the year. If on the Silver or Bronze plans, all costs are shared above your personal responsibility for this incident only. Personal responsibility will start again upon your next incident.

With these scenarios in mind, it is easy to compare them to traditional insurance plans and see that a personal responsibility amount, even on a per incident basis, is more affordable than the typical deductible when on the Gold plan.

SUBMITTING BILLS AND GETTING PAID
When a member submits a provider’s itemized bills to CHM, they are responsible for covering any down payments or minimum payment plans until CHM has reimbursed you for the expenses. The process of reimbursement can take anywhere from 90-120 days. This process can seem daunting at first because you’re seeing a large amount of unpaid bills stacking up on your desk. Rest assured, they will be paid and the initial charges you need to pay are minimal and manageable. To manage the up-front costs, I recommend having a credit card with low interest or, better yet, a 12-month 0% APR bonus to apply these charges to. Your credit card should have a minimum credit line of $5000 to be safe. Most initial charges should not exceed $800 in those 90-120 days if you are making minimum payments.

While you are receiving your necessary medical care, you must explain to your healthcare providers that you are what the healthcare industry calls “Private Pay” and will be covering the bills yourself until reimbursed from CHM. This is the time to ask for any discounts they would be willing to give you. Most places will give you an uninsured discount. You can take this time to ask about payment plans, but that is best done after you receive your first bill.

To submit bills to CHM, you must first obtain itemized bills from your provider(s). Then you must fill out a few simple documents to submit to CHM along with the itemized bills:

  1. Needs Processing Form   (used to inform CHM about your incident and give permission to start the sharing process)
  2. Needs Processing Worksheet   (used to list your current bills being submitted)
  3. HIPAA   (used to grant permission to CHM to view, request, and work on the behalf of your medical records)
  4. Letter of Explanation   (used to tell CHM about your incident and how it happened)

Submitting these along with your itemized bills will start the cost sharing process.

COMFORTABLE MATH
Obviously, there are many variables to our health. One year we may be perfectly healthy, the next we have multiple sicknesses and injuries requiring more medical attention. Some of us have chronic conditions that require us to spend a lot of money each year, and some of us don’t have to. The out-of-pocket, premium, and deductible costs will never be consistent from year to year. As any other healthcare plan, do the math before leaping into CHM. For me and my family it has been the best possible plan for coverage. As a healthy individual needing only a couple of doctor visits per year, I would end up paying out of pocket for my medical needs whether I had CHM or traditional insurance. With the peace of mind that comes from having a lower personal responsibility amount, I’m comfortable knowing that I will not be forced to clip coupons if I have an incident that requires any kind of expensive medical care.

CONSIDERING CHRISTIAN HEALTHCARE MINISTRIES
In all the research I have done in the cost-sharing ministry realm, I find that Christian Healthcare Ministries comes out the best in terms of coverage and affordability. If this sounds like something you might be interested in, please consider signing up using the link below. This will ensure you get a wonderful healthcare plan, and it will also help me out by giving me a free month of CHM. Thank you!

http://www.chministries.org/default.aspx?mem=267177

 

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I am not being paid by CHM to write content or promote their services. This post serves to personally promote CHM because I am thankful and blessed to have found their services.