Nearly three years ago, I wrote a post about discovering Medishare and immediately joining. Now, three years later, was it everything they promised it would be?
It was November 2018. My wife and I had been juggling insurance coverages over the past several years, trying to make the best of each of our employer subsidized insurance plans. Her teachers’ benefits were great, but after the birth of our first child she shifted to part-time and then stopped altogether after our second child was born. After losing her benefits, we tried to get creative to reduce our monthly premium as much as we could. Our health insurance elections over the years were as confusing as this chart looks, shifting our boys’ coverage from her insurance, to my insurance, to the Marketplace, and then back to my insurance.
Entering 2019, our plan had been working as well as it could. The problem was, we were running out of options, and premiums kept rising. If we did our typical shuffling of plans, 2019 was going to cost us almost $10,000 annually for medical premiums, which would also leave us with a combined $20,000 out of pocket risk. If I combined our coverage, we would pay $12,000 annually for medical premiums, with an additional $13,000 out of pocket risk. There had to be a better option.
And, it turns out, there was. All those “health sharing programs” (not quite insurance) that I had been hearing about on finance podcasts or being targeted with facebook ads? I should have paid more attention years ago. I ran the numbers for Medishare and read their entire terms of service booklet. 
Beyond the monthly savings (which was substantial), I loved the idea that by joining Medishare, we were “sharing” medical bills collectively with a larger group of like-minded Christians (according to their website, it’s almost 500,000 people). Far from the uneducated knee-jerk reaction of “being sketchy,” the economics of the program made total sense. The monthly “share” amount was much lower than typical insurance premiums because their pre-existing coverage was limited, and they could disqualify coverage for certain “preventable” situations (like lung cancer due to a lifetime of smoking, or injuries sustained during a DUI accident). All other claims would run through a legit network that would discount the bills just like any other health insurance.
So, we tried it. For three years.
In the three years we had Medishare, we had a child born, an ER visit and emergency oral surgery at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital, and an ACL tear. The coverage was every bit as good as what we experienced with previous plans, plus I felt good about making our monthly “sharing” payments and helping other families with their bills as we were helped by others. Here’s how our past three years of medical claims have looked with Medishare:

And here are what our total outgoing medical costs (the monthly “share” amount + our bill payments) have been with Medishare the past three years:

Compare that to what the our previous strategy of finagling would have cost for the same time period (at least!):

So, was the switch a good idea? Absolutely. By switching to Medishare, we saved almost $17,000 in real dollars over the past three years, plus we cut our risk exposure in half.

Is it exactly the same thing as typical medical insurance? No, it’s not. But we were comfortable with the coverage exceptions (the biggest being limited sharing on pre-existing conditions). We had a full pregnancy + birth, an emergency oral surgery with an overnight stay in a major children’s hospital, and an ACL tear; and everything was as covered as you would expect with a high deductible insurance. We have one minor pre-existing condition that we paid for out of pocket, and that was no problem at all.

Full disclosure: I recently moved to a new job with wonderful family health benefits heavily subsidized by my employer and so we made the difficult decision to leave Medishare. For the past three years, however, as a relatively healthy young family prone to new babies and a few random accidents, Medishare was absolutely the best choice for us. They were everything they promised they would be. As long as you are comfortable and familiar with their (member-voted) terms, I’ll always recommend it as an option absolutely worth consideration.