Christian Healthcare Ministries: A faith-based alternative to health insurance

Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM) is a non-profit organization that provides a faith-based alternative to health insurance for Christians. CHM is not an insurance company, but a health cost sharing ministry, where members voluntarily share each other’s medical bills according to biblical principles. CHM claims to be the oldest and largest health cost sharing ministry in the US, with more than 400,000 members and over $5 billion in shared medical bills since 1981.

CHM operates on the basis of Galatians 6:2, which says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” CHM members agree to follow certain lifestyle and health guidelines, such as abstaining from tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, and seeking preventive care and wellness services. CHM members also agree to pray for each other and send encouraging notes and cards to those who are ill or injured.

CHM members choose from three levels of participation: Gold, Silver, and Bronze, which determine the amount of monthly financial gift and the percentage of eligible medical bills that will be shared. CHM members also pay a one-time $50 membership fee and a $40 annual fee. CHM members are responsible for paying their own medical bills directly to the providers, and then submitting their bills to CHM for reimbursement. CHM then processes the bills and sends checks to the members to cover their eligible expenses.

CHM members can use any doctor, hospital, or clinic of their choice, and are not limited by networks or referrals. CHM also offers discounts and incentives for members who negotiate lower prices with their providers, or who use alternative or natural treatments. CHM also has a program called Brother’s Keeper, which provides extra protection for catastrophic medical bills that exceed the regular sharing limits.

What are the benefits and drawbacks of CHM?

CHM offers several benefits for its members, such as:

  • Affordability: CHM monthly financial gifts are lower than most health insurance premiums, and CHM members are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate penalty. CHM also has no deductibles, co-pays, or coinsurance, and no lifetime or annual limits on sharing.
  • Flexibility: CHM members can choose their own providers, treatments, and medications, and can join or leave CHM at any time. CHM also has no enrollment periods, waiting periods, or age limits, and accepts pre-existing conditions with certain limitations.
  • Accountability: CHM is a member-led and member-governed organization, with a board of directors elected by the members. CHM also publishes its financial statements and annual reports, and undergoes independent audits and reviews. CHM also has a high rating from the Better Business Bureau and a positive feedback from its members.

However, CHM also has some drawbacks, such as:

  • Uncertainty: CHM is not an insurance company, and does not guarantee payment of any medical bills. CHM is also not regulated by any state or federal agency, and is not subject to any legal recourse or dispute resolution. CHM members rely on the goodwill and faithfulness of other members to share their medical bills, and have no contractual or legal rights to enforce their claims.
  • Exclusions: CHM does not share all medical bills, but only those that are eligible according to its guidelines. CHM has a list of exclusions and limitations, such as cosmetic procedures, dental care, vision care, mental health, maternity, and prescription drugs. CHM also does not share bills that are related to lifestyle choices, such as smoking, drinking, or drug use, or bills that are caused by negligence, recklessness, or criminal activity.
  • Complexity: CHM has a complex and lengthy process for submitting and sharing medical bills, which requires a lot of paperwork, documentation, and communication. CHM members have to pay their medical bills upfront, and then wait for reimbursement from CHM, which can take several months or longer. CHM members also have to deal with multiple parties, such as providers, CHM staff, and other members, and may encounter delays, errors, or disputes along the way.

Is CHM legit?

CHM is a legitimate organization that has been operating for over 40 years, and has a proven track record of sharing medical bills among its members. CHM is also a recognized and accredited health cost sharing ministry, and has a strong reputation and credibility in the Christian community. CHM is not a scam or a fraud, but a genuine and sincere expression of Christian love and care.

However, CHM is not for everyone, and may not suit the needs and preferences of every individual or family. CHM is not a substitute for health insurance, but a different and alternative way of managing health care costs. CHM members have to be aware of the risks and responsibilities involved in joining CHM, and have to be comfortable with the faith-based and voluntary nature of CHM. CHM members also have to be proactive and diligent in managing their own health and finances, and have to trust God and other members to share their burdens.

CHM is a viable option for Christians who are looking for an affordable, flexible, and accountable way of sharing health care costs with other like-minded believers. CHM is also a way of living out the biblical principles of stewardship, generosity, and compassion. CHM is not a perfect or easy solution, but a challenging and rewarding opportunity.

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