As Americans debate President Obama’s health care plan, many are seeking a Christian health insurance alternative. Medi-Share is an option that some are using and others are considering. The self-described “Christian care medical sharing” program promises all the benefits health insurance without the high monthly premiums.

How Medi-Share Differs from Health Insurance

Medi-Share is a member-based health care program where Christians help each other. It is not health insurance, but it serves the same purpose. Health insurance involves a contractual agreement to pay someone’s medical bills. Medi-Share is an organized health care sharing ministry where members voluntarily share medical costs.

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The Biblical Principles of Medi-Share

Medi-Share was founded on biblical principles. Members follow the mandates found in Galatians, Ephesians and other books in the Bible. Galatians 6:2 says that Christians are to “carry each others burdens” to fulfill the law of Christ.

Ephesians 4:28 instructs Christians to share with people in need.  “He who has been stealing must steal no longer,” the verse says, “but work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”

How Does the Medi-Share Program Work?

Medi-Share is more than health care; it is a community of people who pray for each other, support each other and share each other’s medical costs. Members pay a monthly share into an account at Christian Credit Union. The joint funds pay the medical bills for that month.

Each month, Medi-Share tallies the medical claims for each plan and divides it by the number of members signed up for the plan. After the administrative and overhead expenses are paid, the remaining funds pay the claims.

Medi-Share has many flexible plans and program levels. Members have the option of choosing their own doctors and hospitals. However, those who choose networked professionals receive additional discounts.

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Medi-Share members enjoy significant cost savings over traditional health insurance. According to the program website, families average $282 a month. Medi-Share enables them to save up to $2,000 a year on insurance premiums.

Government Insurance Mandate Exemptions

Medi-Share members also enjoy another benefit: exemption from the penalties that Americans must pay if they fail to buy insurance by 2014. Although the President signed legislation that requires the purchase of government-regulated health insurance, the law gives health care sharing ministries an exemption. As medical cost rise in this struggling economy, Medi-Share allows Christians to afford health care as they commit to biblical values.

Medi-Share Eligibility Requirements

While Medi-Share is a viable Christian health insurance alternative, applicants must meet certain requirements for membership. Not everyone is accepted into the program.

To qualify, applicants must agree to the Medi-Share statement of faith, and their Christian testimonies must be verifiable. They must attend a church or fellowship of believers and actively support that ministry. To maintain membership, Christians must live a biblical lifestyle that includes no tobacco or drug use as well as sexual abstinence before marriage.

Since members vote annually on what costs to share, the program may not cover all medical bills. It does not cover pre-existing health conditions. However, for healthy Christians who adhere to a biblical lifestyle, Medi-Share may be the health care alternative they are seeking.

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