This post is exactly like the Taco Salad post. Exactly like it.
What I mean is, I’ve had dozens of requests that I share this info and it’s only taken about six years for me to get around to it. (Just like it took me six years to share the taco salad recipe. You see how that makes the posts exactly the same?) I have nothing to say for myself about this issue. Perhaps there’s a home remedy for this??
Health Insurance for our Self-Employed Family
Our family has qualified as “self-employed” for almost all of our 25 years. Even when my husband worked as an employed minister for churches, we carried our own insurance. So trust me when I say we’ve shopped around for the best type of health insurance to pay for out of our own pocket. We’ve experienced all the good, bad, and ugly. We’ve nearly gone broke in the past from paying monthly premiums, and we haven’t had a co-pay option since 1998.
Lest you think I’m complaining, let me tell you where we’ve landed after all these years of trying to figure out the best way to carry health insurance for our family:
We are so super happy that we get to make the decision for ourselves!
Taking care of our own health insurance means we aren’t stuck with what we don’t need or want, paying money we don’t want to pay. We hear from too many people about how much money comes out of their paycheck to go toward health insurance. We hear many a complaint about poor coverage. Instead of dealing with these frustrations, we get to choose where we want to put our money! We’re thankful for this.
We’ve always chosen a high deductible plan so that we pay less per month and instead put our money toward real food and natural/homeopathic/chiropractic care. But with regular insurance companies, even with a high deductible, our monthly premium payment kept going up and up and up. It was horrible, actually.
The worst of it for us was that we really only kept this insurance for major illnesses or catastrophes. As I’ve shared before, our family doesn’t head to the doctor for every sniffle, and in fact, the only time we’ve taken any of us to a regular doctor in the past 11 years is for stitches.
So it was becoming more and more painful to pay hundreds of dollars each month for what felt like nothing. (Not that we wanted anything major to happen, of course. “Let’s get majorly sick so we can get our money’s worth out of our insurance!” said no one ever.)
We looked into alternative options for health insurance
I’d heard some of my friends talk about Christian Healthcare Ministries, so at the point our regular insurance premium doubled (again!) I decided to see if their price might be better.
Oh my stars and dollar signs.
Their price was shockingly lower. You guys – our family of six pays $235/month for insurance. The price does NOT go up year after year. I still can’t even believe how good this is. Annnnnd, instead of our money going to who knows where, our monthly payment goes to another Christian family to help them pay their medical bills. It almost makes me want to pay a higher premium. (Except not.)
Now granted, we pay such a low monthly fee because we chose a $5,000 deductible (which is the same deductible we had on the super expensive insurance). We chose the “bronze” level of coverage, which doesn’t cover anything beyond the big stuff because that’s what works best for our needs (since we rarely, if ever, go to a regular doctor).
We’ve saved thousands through the years – putting the money we would have been paying for insurance into savings so we have deductible money if we need it. And here’s the best part:
Instead of paying huge money every month for insurance that covered nothing but catastrophes, we can put money into our natural doctors, chiropractors, and home remedies instead. All that, and we still save money.
I’m not an affiliate for Christian Healthcare Ministries; I don’t get a kick-back for telling you about them. (Actually, I do see that they give incentives for telling your friends. I haven’t yet learned how that works. Hmmm….) I’m just answering people’s questions I get so often about what we do for insurance since we’re self-employed. Just like knowing about home remedies, I believe people should know they have options for health insurance too!
Because they aren’t technically an “insurance company” (though they still meet the government requirements to be considered such) things work a little differently than you might be used to with Blue Cross or whatnot. As a matter of fact, Christian Healthcare Ministries claims, “We are not health insurance. We are a ministry.” I love this! While their system works differently, it’s not complicated and every need and issue we’ve had has been worked out beautifully; every phone call pleasant.
So there you go. Christian Healthcare Ministries. That’s how we handle our health insurance as self-employed family. I can’t believe it took me so many years to finally write this post.
I’d love to hear what you do for health insurance. Do you have it through your employer? Carry your own? Have you tried a Christian ministry option like this one?
Many have looked into Christian Healthcare Ministries since I posted this. It seems that if you give them our insurance number, our family will get a referral bonus which would cover the cost one month of fees for us. What a wonderful perk! If you feel this is a good option for you, our referral number is 145625. Thanks! :)
We have used Samaritan Ministries for years. It’s amazing. Sounds fairly similar to what you are using.
Kimberly in NC says
Me, too. I joined Samaritan’s Ministries last year and love that the monthly check I write goes directly to a person in need.
Us too! I LOVE Samaritan Ministries. We just had a preemie, and almost $250,000 worth of payments needed between the both of us, and Samaritan covered it all–100%! What a blessing it has been to receive all the precious notes and prayers from people all over the US as well, and know that our shares are going to meet other people’s needs too!!
Sara @ ForeignersAtHome says
I’m so thankful to see this post! We currently live in Japan as missionaries, but will be moving back to the States in mid-2017, and health insurance has been one of the big unknowns for us. We worked in ministry prior to moving to Japan 6 years ago and paid for private health insurance, and even with just the three of us back then, it was, as you said, bringing us down to broke to pay those premiums.
You said that Christian Healthcare Ministries isn’t technically insurance… but does it satisfy the requirements to avoid penalty fees in the States? (We left before Obamacare, so I’m still pretty sketchy on all the details of that.) (Oh! But don’t feel like I’m asking for an explanation. A simple yes or no is fine!)
Thank you for sharing this! I’m filing it away for reference!
We use Samaritan Ministries, and it meets the Obamacare requirements. I think Christian Healthcare Ministries does, too.
Sara @ ForeignersAtHome says
Thank you! I’ll be looking into Samaritan Ministries as well!
Yes, CHM meets all the Obamacare requirements. Thankful!!
Sara @ ForeignersAtHome says
Thank you Laura! I can’t tell you how big a relief this is to me. I really appreciate your sharing!
We use Samaritan Ministries and have been pleased. As a minister;s family, our story sounds very similar to yours. The kicker is that we could not find any insurance policy to obtain on our own that would provide maternity coverage. I do what I can to keep my medical costs low, but I am a C-section and don’t have the option of seeking out a midwife or other cheaper levels of care. Our family has been blessed by being in a health sharing ministry and we have our two youngest children to show for it.
Interesting. Christian Healthcare Ministries does have a maternity benefit if you choose it. Does Samaritan not? I never looked into it when we were shopping around since we were finished with needing maternity by then. :)
I can’t say for sure about c-section, but I know that our birth is 100% covered with Samaritan.
I’m sorry – my comment wasn’t clear. We couldn’t find a traditional insurance plan that would cover maternity. That is why we looked into healthcare sharing ministries. Samaritan does cover maternity, which is a huge blessing.
We use Samaritan ministries, which sounds like the same kind of program as yours. It has been a blessing to us, big time, as we also are self employed. We’ve had TWO babies in the last 2.5 years and ZERO debt from that. (Meanwhile, our friends are still paying off their deductibles…) We will never ever go back regular insurance if we can help it. It is a non traditional approach to healthcare and I feel like people look at it skeptically for that reason (we did too!) but we did a little more research we are so glad we went this direction.
We use Medi-Share (Christian Care Ministry). It too satisfies the Obama requirements. One of the things I really appreciate about it is that we aren’t being forced to pay for treatments/procedures that go against our convictions. The monthly premiums are about the same as we paid when my husband was employed (his now-former-employer subsidized them heavily), but far, far cheaper than what we’d pay on our own. So far, we’ve not had to file any claims, but I’m in the same camp as Laura–take care of your health so you don’t need to go to the doc.
Kim Kelly says
We use Samaritan Ministries and have for years. What an amazing gift and blessing it has been! Obviously the price is so much lower than insurance that it hardly compares. Also the blessing of the communication with the share-givers is wonderful! We have had several miscarriages with Samaritan and the letters, gifts and cards that came in were amazing. I encourage EVERYONE I know to use Samaritan. I encourage people to be careful with Christian Care Medi-share because if you qualify for government insurance (Medicaid), you must file with that first. Being a pastor’s family with 6 kids means we qualify for medicaid. We just feel that God would have us take care of our own and since Medi-share would not allow that, we didn’t go with them. Samaritan actually encourages people to NOT go with govt. insurance. They have been a blessing!
Lynn Six says
Christian Healthcare is great for us. Samaritans would not even allow us to join because my husband had a heart attack in the past. So make sure to look at both and pick the one that works for your situation.
Kim Kelly says
That is true Lynn. There are exceptions for certain conditions existing prior to membership. For those looking, be sure to read the guidelines BEFORE signing on! :-)
My husband and I switched from traditional insurance to Christian Healthcare Ministries back in December. He works for a very small company who has done it’s best to find affordable healthcare options for their employees, but the costs kept rising and rising. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful we are that God led us to this change. In March I was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. This was our first claim with CHM, which was a little overwhelming, but we were so thankful for all the help we received over the phone each time we called with questions. Because CHM doesn’t function like traditional insurance, it has taken some explaining to the many doctors’ offices, hospitals, labs, etc. I have found that when they don’t seem convinced that what I have is truly “insurance”, directing them to the website has been a big help. I even had one medical billing gal tell me, “This is a great program! Your monthly payment and out of pocket costs are so much more affordable than our insurance through the hospital!”
Not only will the vast majority of our financial needs be met, but the even greater blessing has been to see the way CHM really functions as the body of Christ, coming around us in our time of need. One of the first times I called to ask a question, the representative asked if she could share my diagnosis as a prayer request with the rest of the CHM family. I said yes, having no idea how this would bless us. I have received nearly 100 cards in the mail over the last two months from fellow CHM families, passing along words of encouragement, Scripture, and prayer. The Lord has truly has taken this piece of the journey that could have been stressful and overwhelming and turned it into a huge source of encouragement!
Laura S says
Thanks for sharing! I always wondered how this type of insurance would work with a major claim like cancer.
May God bless you!
Do these groups cover vision and / or dental costs?
Kim Kelly says
As far as Samaritan goes, optical services are not covered. The company feels that those needs can be budgeted and taken care of by the members themselves. Dental depends on the problem. They do publish teeth and cap breaking by accidents other than eating and certain vehicle accidents. They also publish operations on bones in the mouth but not teeth and they also publish life-threatening dental problems. (as per ministry guidelines booklet)
I’m not sure about the gold or silver levels, but the bronze level we are on does not cover dental/vision. :)
Mary Ann says
We use CHM too! I will say that we’ve had it for 2 years and still haven’t had a claim(we also go to dr. very infrequently!) so I can’t say anything about our experience other than their staff being so helpful whenever we’ve had a question. I am of child-bearing age so I chose the gold level which covers more than silver or bronze but I love that you can change the level whenever you choose.
We are in the adoption process and last year, while doing our home study paperwork for our agency, we had to include proof of medical insurance so CHM helpfully sent a letter for us to include that explained how it worked and that it was recognized under the Affordable Care Act and all.
Yes, I use CHM for my “health insurance” since I aged out of being under my father’s insurance. We researched the different sharing ministries to compare them and found that CHM best fit our needs. I simply mention that I am self-pay when (rarely) going to the doctor, and many times there is a discount offered for those paying out-of-pocket. Interesting to read that your family also uses them!
We have been with Samaritan Ministries for 16 years. We have had babies, surgeries and emergencies all covered. I can’t say enough about SM. What a blessing!
Beth @ Turn2theSimple says
We have been with Samaritan Ministries for over 5 years now and I love it! I will NEVER go back to regular insurance! We’ve had one baby :-) and one miscarriage :-( while with Samaritan Ministries and it was amazing to see God’s had of comfort and blessing through the whole thing, especially through the miscarriage.
Kathy T says
We’ve had CHM for almost 23 years are pleased with them. We’ve had two babies (one premature), three surgeries, and assorted athletic injuries over the years (both kids are college athletes) and the hospital and Doctors have almost always offered discounts. We’ve also changed our deductible depending on the season of life we were in.
We agree with everything you have said about CHM. and just to answer a few questions…they do cover maternity, and there are 3 christian ministries you can use that are “grandfathered in” that qualify as insurance so you do t have to pay the no insurance coverage penalty.
We use the gold plan and have the brothers keeper option. We insure 2 adults and 5 children. It is 1/4 of what our traditional insorance would cost. Plus there is NO deductible if the discounts we get are more than our deductible would be. Almost all doctors visits we just pay for out of pocket, which is doable since our premiums are so low($450). And we rarely go to the dr. And the two hospital situations we had were covered at 100%. I can’t say enough great things about CHM.
We use Samaritan’s as well, and love how it works. We actually look forward to sending out the check to the family in need…unlike our previous health insurance premium. ;) So far we’ve only submitted one need, and they’re almost apologetic when they can’t help with more (our pregnancy started before we were members), which is also totally opposite of our insurance that we had to fight tooth and nail to get to pay for things that should have been covered! I love being in charge of our own health decisions too. We can choose our providers and procedures, even more natural ones that were not covered by our old insurance. They’ve been awesome and I’d totally recommend it!
You should totally look at the bring-a-friend program! If anyone joins CHM mentioning your referral number, after they are members for three months, you get one month free! Supposedly there’s no limit, so you could potentially get a lot of free months! Your referral number is simply your member number.
CHM and Samaritan are similar, but do have differences. We chose CHM mainly for the flexibility of cost. Right now we are also all at the lowest coverage. Samaritan covers more, but there’s only one option for a family, which I think is a bit over $400. That’s more than we can afford right now. Like you, doctor visits are rare for us. We actually had no insurance until the fine kept going up. $135/month is cheaper than the penalty, so why not?
Laura S says
I, too, think it is fine if you want to use the refer-a-friend program. Every job has some perks and this can be one of yours. As long as you are being honest with your opinion, it is totally fine by me.
I am considering this type of coverage. We have thought about being self-employed ourselves but healthcare is our biggest concern. It is very reassuring to hear from so many people who are happy with these programs. I am not familiar with them to make the leap on my own. Now I am encouraged. I would love for you to get some benefits for sharing this great program!
Well then, if you do sign up with them, our number is 145625. We would, of course, love to earn a free month of health coverage! Thank you!!
Do you find that most doctors accept this form of insurance?
Yes, because it works differently than a regular insurance. The bill is sent directly to us and we work with Christian Healthcare Ministries directly to get it paid. Our family usually pays the entire bill upfront if we can – and we let them know at the doctor’s office we’ll be paying upfront, so we almost always get a 5-20% discount – big win! Then we send in our receipts to CHM and they reimburse us. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t once you get used to how it works. So, because of this system, every doctor we’ve worked with accepts it because they don’t have to deal with it. (And that’s why we often get a discount on the services.)
One exception: Our natural doctor doesn’t accept CHM, but that’s because she doesn’t accept ANY form of insurance. That’s pretty typical with natural doctors though. :)
Once you submit a claim to CHM, how long does it take to be reimbursed?
It’s been a few years since we’ve needed to submit one, but if I remember correctly, they paid us back in 90 days. Maybe less?
Does it cover routine well checks and shots?
We have Bronze level coverage, which does not. You’d have to check to see if Gold or Silver cover routine visits! :)
Not sure if this thread is still open, but can anyone who has been with CHM share about how you determine which level (gold, silver, bronze) you went with and your reasoning? As inexpensive as it is, I can afford gold level but I don’t know if that’s “overkill” for a family similar to the author’s, in that it has been years since we went to a doctor or had a hospital visit/stay. I’m a widow with four minor children who would be on a plan together.
My opinion is that you might as well stick with bronze and save the extra money each month to use toward your medical needs as they (rarely) come! :)
We are part of CHM but have chosen to go with the gold level. Even though we rarely go to the doctors ( actually never) and go to the chiropractor instead. We also chose to be part of the brothers keeper program which increases the share level.
Even with all that it is still only $450 a month compared to the $2000 per month Obamacare would have charged us with a $12,000 deductible!
My husband is a farmer ( self-employed). I am a SAHM with one son (adopted) and hoping still to adopt another.
SDA HYMNS says
Very informative, useful and nice article easy to understand.
Thank you so much for sharing this profound article.