18 FAQ's About My Amazingly Awesome Health Co-op (what we use for health insurance): A Review of Christian Healthcare Ministries
At Raise The Good, I curate specific resources that will help families succeed in raising their children. Being financially sound and physically healthy is a part of that. That is why I am sharing Christian Healthcare Ministries with you- it has helped our family be both physically healthy and financially sound. If this solution fits your needs and you decide to join Christian Healthcare Ministries, my family can receive a credit when you give them #332697 as a reference number.
I LOVE my healthcare plan.
It's not every day you hear someone say that!
But it's also not everyday you find a plan that:
It's incredible. I love it. Here are the questions I get asked about it the most:
1. It sounds too good to be true. What is it REALLY?
I use Christian Healthcare Ministries. It is a health care co-op (technically NOT insurance) for Christians. All members share each other's health care bills. It's all about bearing one another's burdens and helping the body of Christ.
2. Do you have to be a specific religion to qualify?
While you have to live the guidelines of the New Testament and the ten commandments, any Christian is eligible for this co-op. (Other co-ops may require you to sign a statement of faith about the Trinity or other doctrinal issues as they define them. As a member of the LDS church, that excluded me from some of them.) I appreciate that all Christians are welcome at Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM).
3. What is a healthcare co-op?
Members of a co-op share each other's bills. That's why technically it's not insurance. It's better! CHM has been around for over 35 years and members have helped each other pay $2.5 billion+ dollars in health care costs during that time. They are also very transparent with their book keeping.
Other popular co-op ministries include:
I've also heard great things about each of them.
4. How does Christian Healthcare Ministries work?
Let's say John Brown fell and has a really bad break in his leg. He has $15,000 in medical bills. He tells his providers that he is self-pay and asks them to give him a self-pay discount (they give insurance companies discounts all the time). The hospital gives him his discount, and his bills go down to $10,000. He pays an equivalent of a deductible (for me, this is $500/incident.) Then John sends his itemized bill to CHM. CHM figures out how many members are needed to pay $9,500 for John's leg.
I pay a set amount every month (for my family, it is $450) and send it into headquarters- just as I would if I had traditional insurance. However, I know who my money is set aside for. This month, it goes to John. I send him a "get better soon" card and remember him in my prayers. (CHM believes in giving physical, emotional and spiritual help.) CHM then collects money from those who were assigned to John, and then sends him a check that he pays his bills with. (Minus his "deductible". So if I were John, I would receive $9,500.)
I pay less than insurance would normally cost me, John gets more of his bills paid than he normally would, and the hospital gets paid faster than normal with less hassle. It's a win-win-win.
5. Do I have to pay a fine for not having regular insurance?
Ministry co-ops are an acceptable option under the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare, so there are NO FINES or other penalties for not having traditional insurance. As always though, I advise you to contact your accountant.
6. How much does CHM cost?
There are three different levels of coverage per unit. Each adult is a separate unit, and the kids (no matter how many) are a unit. My family is 3 units-me, the hubby, and the kids- all at the Gold level (the highest coverage). We pay $450/month. When the ACA was introduced, our non-subsidized traditional insurance rate was quoted to us at over $1500/month, with a $10,000 deductible. Yikes! Our decision was between $450/mo or $1500/mo. The decision was easy.
7. What is covered? What isn't?
Anything above your personal responsibility is covered at 100%. The lowest responsibility is $500 per incident. Nothing under your personal responsibility is covered. For me, that means stitches, ear infections, well checks, etc. are not covered. But I can live with that, because I save so much with CHM versus regular insurance. Here is more info on what's covered:
You can find a specific list of what is/isn't covered here.
8. What is the limit of how much money CHM will pay out?
$125,000 per incident. However if you sign up for the "Brother's Keeper" program in addition to the Gold plan, you will receive UNLIMITED assistance. (This program costs me $340 annually + my monthly dues of $450 for my entire family- well worth it in my opinion.)
9. How long until my bills are paid?
It can be up to 4 months, depending on when your paperwork is received, etc. You may need to start a payment plan with your provider to bridge the gap. But remember- you are reimbursed 100% directly.
10. Does this cover prescriptions?
Yes and no. Yes for treatment, no for maintenance.
If you are diagnosed with cancer, for example, a TREATABLE disease, then yes. No matter how long doctors try to treat and fix it, and no matter what kind of medication you need, then CHM will cover it.
If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, or need thyroid medication, or have diabetes, where you are trying to MAINTAIN a health condition, but not fix it, then if you have the Gold plan, they will pay for the first 90 days. After that, you are on your own.
That is the only problem with CHM in my opinion. However, they DO have a discount card they give you. The pharmacy can decide if they will use it or not, but it has saved me anywhere from 10-50% on the various prescriptions we've needed over the years.
11. If I'm already covered through work, will this cover my kids?
Yes. There are a couple ways to do this, but the best/most cost effective way is to sign yourself up at the lowest level at $45/month (even if you have other insurance) and then sign up the kids all together as one unit at the level of coverage you want for them.
For example, one father I know spends $900/month to cover his children, because neither he nor his wife's workplace insurance will cover them. That's crazy! CHM would cover all of the kids for $150/month at the Gold level (plus one parent for $45/month at the Bronze level). That's literally a $700/mo difference.
12. How old can my adult children be, to be covered with my family?
If they are single, they can be covered up to age 26. Woot! Woot! (Note: they will not cover pregnancies for unwed mothers since you and your family promise to live the ten commandments when you sign up. Makes sense.)
13. Do I have to live in the U.S.?
14. Can I use this with Medicare?
15. How often are rates raised?
There are no guarantees of course, but rates have only been raised once since 2000, and even then it was only a $15 increase.
16. Are there certain enrollment periods?
No, you can join at any time.
17. Who is CHM NOT for?
18. Are there any benefits for sharing CHM?
Why, yes. Yes, there are. If you share this program with someone else and they sign up, then you, my friend, get a month FREE! That's a big deal! Just have your friend give CHM your member number. Incidentally, my member number is #332697. (Wink!)
I really can't tell you what a blessing this program has been to our family. Since we are self-employed, our insurance has always been expensive. But when the Affordable Care Act was passed, our rates went through the roof! We would not have been able to afford insurance on our own.
I have cousins on this plan. My sister is on this plan. My mom is seriously considering this plan. I tell them all about it because I know how insane the insurance industry is, how much complicated garbage we have to wade through to get treatments covered (or not, sometimes!), and how much money we pay for relatively little help. I share this because I truly believe it helps people and it's so simple.
If you'd like to learn more about CHM, click here. And if you decide it's something you would like to try, I'd appreciate it if you gave them my member number as the person who referred you: #332697.
Good luck to you as you try to figure out the best solution for your family!
P.S. My cousin came up with a ninja hack that is pretty darn cool. Whenever he and his wife have a baby, they pay the entire bill with a credit card that gives them cash back or points, or whatever. When CHM pays them back, they pay off the credit card and use the rewards to go on a cruise! How cool is that? (Only do this if you are responsible with credit cards.) :)
Hi, I'm Jen! I adore chocolate, I'd rather read than clean my house, and I haven't seen my abs in I-don't-know-how-long. But I love my husband and kids to death and try to Raise The Good within myself and my family by making wise and uplifting media choices and having a deliberate family culture. You are probably doing the same thing. Let's share what works with each other!
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