How to Know if Christian Healthcare Ministries is Right for You

Trying to decide if a sharing ministry is worth it? My tell-all Christian Healthcare Ministries review will help you decide!
 This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure policy here.
I've been trying to decide if a sharing ministry is worth it, and I'm so glad I found this Christian Healthcare Ministries review! Not only does she list pros and cons, she's honest about what I'll need to keep in mind if I switch! Finally, enough peace of mind to make an informed decision! #christianhealthcareministries #healthinsuranceoptions #healthcaresharing

When Joseph unexpectedly lost his job in 2015, we lost our health insurance, too.

Since I was already self-employed as a blogger, we decided that Joseph would join me in full-time online entrepreneurship rather than try to find another job. However, that meant a grueling (and confusing!) search for affordable healthcare options.

And as we soon discovered, health insurance is never more expensive than when you have to purchase it yourself!

We settled on the Affordable Care Act for our first year and planned on re-upping for the second. But when the enrollment period opened up again, the price had nearly doubled (oh the irony!), sending us right back to square one.

Let’s try this again

Friends of ours recommended a healthcare sharing ministry, so we thought, “Why not?” We liked it enough that Christian Healthcare Ministries has become our healthcare of choice for the last two years. 🙂

Here’s the thing, though—sharing ministries can be a little confusing to understand at first. You might be thinking:

  • Are sharing ministries legit health insurance?
  • How does it work?
  • Do I have to be a Christian to join?
  • What do they cover?
  • When will I get paid?

Here’s my Christian Healthcare Ministries review so you can decide whether or not a sharing ministry is worth the switch, and more specifically, if Christian Healthcare Ministries is the right choice for you and your family. Let’s dive in!

1. What is Christian Healthcare Ministries?

Christian Healthcare Ministries is not technically a health insurance—they use the term “health cost sharing ministry.” In other words, members contribute a monthly “financial gift” toward other members’ medical bills.

CHM offers three different program levels, ranging from a $5,000 deductible (lowest coverage) to no responsibility if the incident exceeds $500 (highest coverage). And just like a normal bill, you make monthly payments based on your chosen program level.

You can also enroll in Brother’s Keeper (a catastrophic plan that costs $50 a quarter and provides unlimited coverage).

2. How does it work?

Before getting into the nitty gritty, this is super important to know: CHM calculates coverage per incident.  

Sometimes this can be one medical bill, but often it’s many bills combined.

For example:

When Joseph broke his elbow (you don’t even want to know how), all doctor’s bills, x-rays, and therapy related to that one incident were totaled together. And we paid everything out of pocket. Once the bills reached $500, we submitted for sharing. However, if I went to the doctor for a regular checkup and the cost was $120, I cannot submit that for sharing.

Here’s a more detailed look at what to do after an incident happens:

  1. Go to the doctor or hospital and tell them you are a self-pay patient (the medical community does not recognize sharing ministries as insurance). Don’t forget to ask for any available discounts. CHM wants to see that you’ve tried to negotiate the cost before requesting help.
  2. Pay every medical bill related to the incident out of pocket.
  3. Keep bills and receipts together in a separate folder.
  4. When the incident totals more than $500, fill out a Needs Processing Form and Letter of Explanation Form online. Attach all supporting documents.
  5. Wait
  6. Wait
  7. Wait
  8. Receive payment in the mail OR a letter requesting additional information.

Note: I only have experience with CHM, but Michelle from Making Sense of Cents gives you a good overview of all the other sharing ministries and how they work. The process you go through for each one is very similar!

3. Pros:

Besides the perk of affordable payments (Joseph and I pay $300 total on their highest coverage plan), here are a few other pros that I always mention when others ask for my Christian Healthcare Ministries review:

  • CHM is exempt from the healthcare mandate, which means no penalty.
  • If you have a pre-existing condition in “maintenance mode,” you can still join.
  • They have a very extensive maternity program from what I hear—I haven’t used it yet!
  • You can choose your own healthcare provider (as long as they accept self-pay patients).
  • Enrollment is open to all 50 states (and internationally!)

And did I mention they are super affordable?!

4. Cons:

As with any healthcare option, there are some downsides too:

  • Even with the highest coverage plan, you still have to pay everything out of pocket, and if the incident is under $500, you are personally responsible for it. So you’re gonna want a healthy Emergency Fund!
  • Refunds can take a while. The max is supposed to be 120 days, but we’ve had it take even longer.
  • Alternative medicine is not covered. I went to a naturopathic doctor and they only paid for the lab work, not the visit.
  • There is no dental/vision program or prescription benefits (unless related to an incident). We currently use Delta Dental for $35 a month, and I get all my prescriptions at Sam’s Club (their annual membership helps keep costs down).
  • You do not have to be a Christian to join, but CHM’s guidelines require that you do not smoke, don’t do drugs, don’t get drunk, and attend group worship regularly. Will they check up on you? Probably not. But any incidents resulting from use of addictive substances will of course not be covered and could even result in removal from the program.

The perfect healthcare option

I often get asked, what do you do for healthcare? Especially now that we are both self-employed full-time RV travelers!

I think the reason for asking is more than just curiosity; it’s because no one is ever satisfied with their own healthcare.

Either the deductible is too high or the coverage is too low. The monthly payment is a strain on the budget. Claims get denied and you have no idea why. The process of understanding what gets covered and what doesn’t is downright irritating.

But you basically have four choices:

  1. Get traditional insurance (either yourself or through an employer)
  2. Use the Affordable Care Act
  3. Try a healthcare sharing ministry
  4. Pad your medical fund and wing it (but you’ll pay a penalty each year you do)

In my experience with the first three, a healthcare sharing ministry like CHM makes the most sense.

It doesn’t have the high cost of traditional insurance (thus allowing you to add more to your Emergency fund if you would like), you don’t pay a penalty, and almost everything medically is covered.

If the only thing standing between you joining a sharing ministry is fear of the unknown, I hope this post helped calm those fears. Because even with the various cons I mentioned, a sharing ministry is the best option for Joseph and I during this time in our lives, and it might just be the perfect fit for you too!

Let’s chat about healthcare sharing ministries:

Do you have any specific questions about using a company like CHM?

 

Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. Read my full disclosure policy here.

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58 Comments

  1. I have been trying to determine if CHM is worth my dropping my work insurance and going with CHM. I would also be needing to get either Medicare B or the Advantage plan for the Senior level.
    Any thoughts ?

  2. This is a very good article. We have used CHM for years. It is my understanding they have recently changed owners at some point. Their updated website makes it much easier to submit “sharing requests,” i.e., medical bills. The bills must be itemized. CHM does not pay for holistic or chiropractic care. I believe that decision alone avoids a lot of fraudulent and excessive claims, thereby keeping medical insurance premiums lower. I have not discussed this with anyone, just my opinion. Does anyone else know people who go to chiropractors regularly or in lieu of going to a day spa for a massage? All the members would get to share paying for that privilege.

    CHM payouts have been interesting to me. When using our local hospital the bills are extremely large. Our hospital will deduct 1/3 of the total charges if paid within 120 days. CHM seems to reimburse those charges quickly. However, I have paid the medical providers besides that OOP and waited almost the full 120 days for those reimbursements from the date of submission, not the date of care. Hence, we try to submit bills quickly.

    I recently received a mailer requesting that care providers partner with them. We can still select our own provider, but those who partner with them may get reimbursed more quickly. Again, haven’t spoken with anyone, just guessing. I hope our experience with CHM helps.

  3. Thanks for your info! My husband is 59 and since having Covid last year he has had to go to a cardiologist for some checkups. What IF he were to have a heart attack and be in the hospital for an extended time. I am guessing this is called ‘catastrophic’ illness?? Anyway, we would be responsible for paying the several hundred thousand first? Eeeks! Any research on the older community using this? We are self employed and HAVE to start saving some $$! Thanks!

    1. That’s the only frustrating thing about sharing ministries! I used to work in the medical billing department and most doctors will offer payment plans. If this were to happen I would set up a payment plan through their finance department and then pay off the bills when the money from CHM came through. Hopefully nothing like that happens though!

      1. Great advice, Kalyn. Am I correct that hospitals can’t refuse your critical heathcare based on insurance grounds? As such, it would be a finance issue after the fact (they wouldn’t refuse care to a heart attack patient)

    2. Be careful. It’s a scam. I bumped up from bronze level to gold this past year. When I bumped up it was $500 deductible now it’s $1,000 per incident in other words per visit. Plus, if you don’t get those receipts in within something like 30 days they’ll deny it. I couldn’t even get a receipt within 30 days. Then they’ll take months and months to actually review it and determine if they will pay you. If you drop them in the meanwhile they won’t pay you. So they’ll tell you you have to keep paying hundreds and hundreds of dollars in order to get the 12 cents they might actually pay out. I have reported them to the better Business bureau and to the Federal trade commission. In my opinion, Christian Healthcare Ministries looks an awful lot like a Ponzi scheme

      1. Completely untrue. Her experience is a series of errors she made. We have been with CHM for 20 years and it have been the biggest blessing imaginable for our medical needs. It is no way a scam or ponzi. The commenter reveals her character by saying such outlandish things.

        1. She is correct in that if you drop them before they pay-out a claim .you will NOT recieve any money on claim .So its not all sunshine and lolipops at CMH

      2. Not true for us at all!! Weve been very pleased with the program. Yes, the deductible went up this year however, if you had regular insurance, your deductible may be grom 3,000 to 10,000 and hospitals ate wanting that upfront. A 1,000 per incident is not bad. Its six months to file claims and they will help get the information if needed. We have no complaints. This program does require paperwork but once done a couple of times, its easy. I will say many of our providers respect this program and are aware of how it works. Many are even enrolled because they need coverage too.

      3. That is not true, it is not a scam. You have to read the rules carefully when you join.

        Yes, the deductible has gone to $1000 per incident due to higher healthcare costs. And yes, you have to wait , sometimes more than 120 days. Of course you have to be covered while you wait, otherwise there would be a lot of people that would stop coverage and restart again.

        As the article said: it’s not perfect and it’s not for everyone. I speak from experience: we’ve been using it for 15 years. It’s still the cheapest option out there.

  4. With CHM, do you have to pay a monthly “gift amount” above the monthly premium? Their guidelines are a bit confusing on this…..

      1. The monthly cost or also, one can contribute to anothers healthcare bill if they have medical cost before joining the CHM program.

  5. A fantastic blog and extremely informative about the health care system. CHM is definitely my first choice for insurance. Keep up the good work.

  6. Thanks for the overview. This has been very helpful in order to under the system.I will definitely be getting my insurance done from CHM.

    1. Be very careful. I’ve been trying to cancel since last year. I’ve gone through the portal, emails, voicemails. They’re refusing to let me cancel. They’re not covering a single thing. In my opinion, it seems to be a scam. They will find any reason in the book not to pay you. I don’t think that they actually pay anybody. I have reported them to the better Business bureau and to the Federal trade commission

      1. We’ve had excellent service from them. There are guidelines to follow when submitting the paperwork. Weve used CHM for several years now.

  7. Always nice to read about others experience with CHM. Our family of 5 has had CHM as our health coverage now for about 15 years. We have used their services for our 3 children. Only had good experiences to date. Thank you.

    1. Be very careful. I’ve been trying to cancel since last year. I’ve gone through the portal, emails, voicemails. They’re refusing to let me cancel. They’re not covering a single thing. In my opinion, it seems to be a scam. They will find any reason in the book not to pay you. I don’t think that they actually pay anybody. I have reported them to the better Business bureau and to the Federal trade commission

  8. Thanks for this information about Christian Healthcare Ministries CCM. Finding the best health insurance plan from so many companies can get confusing for many people. But as I read all comments I came up with the solution this in your blog explains things very nicely. I am looking for an insurance policy. But don’t understand your traditional insurance policy please explain me.

    1. Thanks for asking! A traditional insurance policy is when you get health insurance from a traditional health insurance company through your employer. Since we are entrepreneurs, we don’t have that option! That’s why we chose CHM.

    1. Hi, I just got the answer from them directly. The silver and bronze package don’t pay for office visits or meds only hospital and surgical procedures involved with the claim. The gold package covers office visits and maternity benefits as well.

    2. The plan is they will take your money, come up with every reason in the book not to pay you then refuse to let you cancel. Or at least that has been my experience after paying in for 3 years

  9. So say I already had an event where I paid my 500.00 OOP. Then I schedule a knee replacement, and get the bill. I can send that bill to CMH and they would pay it all?

    1. No. For one thing, it’s now $1,000 per incident. That means every visit, every doctor etc. You’ll submit your bill for your doctor and they’ll come back and say they don’t understand what that doctor does or something stupid. They’ll come up with an excuse not to pay for your doctor. Then you’ll have a follow-up visit. They’ll come up with an excuse not to pay for that one. Then they’ll keep $1,000 deductible on each and every visit and every portion of that visit. So then you’ll get labs and you’ll have another $1,000 deductible and they’ll refuse to pay anything about that. Then you’ll go have a cardiac work up and they’ll find a reason to refuse to pay that enter you have another $1,000 deductible on the gold. Then you’ll get fed up with it and you’ll try to cancel and they’ll tell you that if you cancel they’re not going to pay you anything even though they’re not paying you anyway. Then you’ll have to go to the Federal trade commission and better Business bureau and they’ll still refuse to let you cancel and they’ll start to threaten you with past due notices. Or at least that’s been my experience

  10. As a follow up to Faith’s comment about being in a car accident and needing chiropractic care, had the car insurance not provided coverage for that? I know that CHM recommends having good car insurance for medical, and I didn’t know if she also had issues with the car insurance covering the chiropractic care.

    Thanks for the helpful post, considering switching for 2021 to CHM.

  11. My son is a self employed farmer and horse trainer. He is single, age 66. He has a really damaged back and needs two disc replacements with nerve endings deadened. He has only a minimum insurance that will pay office visits. Would the Christian insurance cover that? The doctor will not even begin until he gets insurance. HELP

  12. Kalyn,
    I have a background in group health insurance sales, not my present occupation but I am educated in the process. I currently have United Healthcare for me and my son (college student) as my spouse has coverage thru his employer that is paid by his employer. The reason my son and I are not covered is that we chose a less expensive route, $467 per month vs. $1,200 per month. No contest. Our plan is a $2,500 deductible with 80/20% coinsurance. So with that being said we pay for everything (except preventative) out of pocket up to $2,500 every year…so I am 59 and have been blessed thus far with execellent health, my son has had anxiety and depression disorders since he was a young teen, so basically that’s all we have experienced. My question for you is more based on claims processing time frames than anything else. I don’t mind asking for a discount or shopping for an affordable doctor, I do that now anyway because its out my pocket now anyways. But the only reservation I have is the time frame that claims are paid. Can you help?

    1. Hey Susanne. I have a question about United Healthcare. Is this a private policy or one through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? If it is a PPO through a private policy, would you mind sharing the company you have that policy through. I currently have coverage through the ACA and I’d like to get away from it.

  13. I am VERY DISSAPOINTED. I’ve been a GOLD MEMBER since 2014. But I NEVER asked for anything from CHM. But this year, I got into a car accident, and my chiropractor, after xray, said that I would need a treatment of aproximately $4,000 to $5,000. I spent with CHM (along with my husband) way more than $5,000 throughout the years.

    I called CHM to ask for help. But NO, they cannot help me. The reason: because they do not cover HOLISTIC DOCTORS. I could go to an orthopedic doctor and get a humongous bill from them, and as a gold member, I should be able to get most of the bill reimbursed, right? But I refuse to do any invasive treatment, and chose the natural way. But CHRISTIAN MINISTRY do not believe in NON INVASIVE treatments. OK. I am CANCELLING my GOLD MEMBERSHIP. I wished I would have done it YEARS AGO…

    P.S. You mentioned that ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE it’s not covered. But what do you do, when you are spending $5,000 in alternative only. I GUESS CHM is not for holistically minded people like me. Thank you for your review

    1. I’m so sorry you had that experience! It’s unfortunate that chiropractic care is not covered. You may be able to look around your area for a more affordable chiropractor as they can vary widely in how much they charge!

      1. Hi Faith, depending on what state you are in. Most times auto accident care is paid for out of auto insurance and as a chiropractor myself who treats all types and have treated many auto accident cases that is standard in most states. I am looking into CHM myself. Anytime a patient is uninsured in MA they get $8000 worth of coverage. If you were not at fault in the auto accident, the other drivers’ insurance picks up your bill. I know some states have different insurance tort regulations, but as Kalyn said many chiropractors would charge less, I would.

  14. What if you have some sort of catastrophic illness or injury bill? How in the world do you pay that out of pocket for reimbursement? Do the bills have to show a zero balance for reimbursement?

    1. Hi Nikki,

      I don’t believe the bills have to show a zero balance, however, it is not the most ideal insurance for catastrophic illness – but it is better for us than no insurance and/or insurance that we can’t afford at all.

    2. G’day Nikki,

      I think in the interim you ask for a monthly payment plan from the healthcare provider and then pay them out in full when you get reimbursed. The provider should be used to dealing with that situation.

      BTW, Kalyn – great article. Thank you! My family just moved from Australia and had no idea how this stuff works.

  15. Christian Healthcare Minstries is a rip off! When I got pregnant and submitted my prenatal visit bills, they would never reimburse me. I was a gold member and followed all of their guidelines, but they always came up with a new excuse for what I needed to do to get reimbursed. I always did what they requested but in the end I was never reimbursed. So not only did I pay for months of being a gold member, but I also had to pay for prenatal visits and tests out of my own pocket that CHM was supposed to reimburse me for!

    1. Hi Chiao,

      I’m so sorry to hear of your experience. We’ve only had to submit one claim so far while we’ve been with them and had no issue. I wish we didn’t have to wait a few months for the reimbursement to process but we did get everything we were promised.

    2. I’m curious we’re you pregnant before you joined and are you married? CHM does have some restrictions of maturity bills they share (they don’t cover anything if you are single or pregnant before you join—they are very clear on their website about this) If you don’t have the aforementioned situations I personally have had everything covered for my pregnancy and I usually get the check in the mail really fast! They love babies!

  16. Hi, I am looking into CCM. I am currently with Medishare but like most wanting to keep healthcare costs down. CCM seems to be lower and there is no application fee. My concern is this. It sounds like YOU have to do the submitting of your dr/hospital bills-correct? If so I would think that might be a big deal if you aren’t an organized person or one that doesn’t like the waiting.

    1. Yes, you are 100% correct. YOU have to do the legwork with CCM.

      When Joseph had fractured his elbow, after the initial visit at an urgent care clinic we called around to several orthopedic surgeons to find one who charged a reasonable price for self-pay patients. Then we paid everything out of pocket and submitted every bill to CCM. We got reimbursed for the visit around 4-6 months later.

      We waited to submit the forms until after everything was complete, we discovered then that we could have been submitting the forms directly after each visit. So if you do that it’s easier to keep everything straight.

  17. Thanks for the overview, it was very helpful!

    I have one question… you list “no prescription drug program” as one of the cons.

    I can understand that blood pressure medication may not be covered but what about chemotherapy treatments for someone with cancer for example, would they be covered?

  18. Thank you for this very informative post! Quick question: do you pay $300 per month or $300 per year for your coverage?

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