The Obamacare Alternative That You’ve Never Heard Of

by Jamie Simmerman · 29 comments

With the Affordable Care Act going live on October 1, many families and individuals are scrambling to find affordable alternatives to government-provided healthcare. While the Affordable Care Act itself is very controversial, the law still requires U.S. citizens to sign up for some form of healthcare.

But what do you do if you’re not sold on government-sponsored healthcare and don’t currently have coverage through a private insurance company? There are healthcare plans available through you local insurance broker, or member organizations like AARP, but not everyone can afford private insurance.

Even if it seems like you’ve reviewed all the options, there’s still one alternative solution that you’ve probably never heard of.

Christian Healthcare Ministries

This organization could provide easy affordable coverage if you don’t have other options. The concept is simple; instead of paying your monthly premiums to an insurance company, you send your monthly dues directly to a another member with qualified healthcare costs.

Coverage starts immediately upon signing up, and there are no in-network provider restrictions. You choose your doctors and treatment providers, and there’s no need to get procedures pre-approved for coverage. Coverage can be used in conjunction with Medicare or other insurance coverage, as well.

The Catch

While no one is turned down for coverage, there is a catch. As the name implies, the coverage is only for Christian participants. You’ll need a letter of recommendation from a clergy member verifying you attend a church regularly (if your health permits). You’ll also need to follow a few lifestyle rules, like avoiding tobacco products, drinking alcohol only occasionally, and living by “Biblical principals.”

Also, while prescription coverage is provided for some members for incident-related events, you’ll need a discount prescription program or separate drug coverage if you take regular medications.

Coverage Basics

Coverage is based upon the concept of units and levels. A unit corresponds to a person requesting coverage. An individual would need one unit of coverage, a couple would require two units, and a family, three units. Three units is the maximum, no matter how many children you have.

You then select a level of coverage: gold, silver, or bronze. Each level provides different coverage and a different monthly payment for each unit. For example, the basic level of bronze provides inpatient and outpatient coverage (hospitalization) for $45 a month per unit. A family of six could get basic hospitalization coverage that satisfies the Affordable Care Act requirement for $135 per month.

Gold-level coverage provides all the basics of traditional insurance plans, including maternity coverage for $145 per unit per month with a $500 personal responsibility limit (deductible). You can view exact level details here. You can also compare costs of CHM plans with average monthly premiums of HMO and PPO plans, based on research from The Kaiser Family Foundation.

Coverage isn’t ideal, but it can be a lifesaver for individuals and families looking for help with healthcare coverage that fits into their monthly budget. It can also be used to supplement an existing bare-bones insurance plan, if secondary insurance is required under your policy to avoid paying a higher percentage of medical costs.

Have you heard of CHM before? Would you be interested in using it?

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason October 15, 2013 at 4:56 pm

There’s one more catch that you didn’t mention: this isn’t insurance coverage. It does qualify as eligible coverage under the Affordable Healthcare Act (according to their site). Under their plan, you would be considered a cash patient asking for discounts up front and applying for financial assistance. Providers bill you first, you will set up payment arrangements based on affordability before the cost sharing from CHM kicks in. While they do have a good track record, there’s no guarantee how much they will cover when you’re faced with $50,000 in hospital bills. It’s a different ballgame when you are billed first instead of your insurance carrier.

It is a very affordable option and there many benefits to being a cash patient, especially having your choice of providers. I requested an info packet just to be better educated on this option. For now I’d rather pay more for traditional insurance, but I work for a small company and our benefits are liable to change anytime, so… you never know.

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Emily October 16, 2013 at 8:30 pm

I wouldn’t waste my time with them. The “Biblical principles” they require are more restrictive than those found in many mainstream Christian denominations, so I would rather sign up for the government plan. The government, shocking as it may sound, is not as invasive into my personal life.

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fredjohnson October 17, 2013 at 9:25 pm

So, you are a christian that doesn’t live by “biblical prinicples”? Just what kind of a “christian” is that? Biblical prinicples are what define a christian and NOT the “principles’ YOU decide are biblical. So, you wouldn’t be a good fit for them, well that’s not their fault, is it.

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Natalie October 18, 2013 at 9:20 am

She is a normal christian…most if not all don’t live by biblical principles…

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Andy Rothauser October 21, 2013 at 4:05 pm

There is no consistency of “principles” in the Bible (Old + New Testaments). The Bible as we know it is a compilation of anecdotal history, moral/ethical pronouncements by various self-appointed prophets, poetry (David), visions (Book of Revelation) and even organizational instructions (epistles of St. Paul) compiled over thousands of years. It’s content has been greatly modified by various ecclesiastical authorities over the centuries (council of Nicea, King James, etc.) and it has been retranslated (and probably mistranslated) numerous times, so that today there exist multiple versions in languages both ancient and modern, with Bible experts arguing endlessly over interpretations. There are many kinds of Christians – Roman Catholics don’t live by the same “biblical principles” as do Southern Baptists, for example. It seems each “Christian” group sets up it’s own “principles” and then claims it has the only absolute Truth. So, fredjohnson, which version of “biblical principles” do you claim is the right one?

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Art Dunham February 5, 2014 at 12:49 pm

Andy “It’s content has been greatly modified by various ecclesiastical authorities over the centuries (council of Nicea, King James, etc.) and it has been re-translated (and probably mistranslated) numerous times, so that today there exist multiple versions in languages both ancient and modern, with Bible experts arguing endlessly over interpretations. ” This is a very inaccurate understanding of the history of the Bible text and the science of textual criticism.

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Tim October 26, 2013 at 4:45 am

You would be surprised how many “pastors” or ministers of any kind don’t even live by “biblical principles”. Seems like every church I attend has some psycho preacher or pastor trying to condemn me for using my freedom how I choose or condemns me because I disagree on small things.

While I follow very strict principles that Jesus made very clear, I had a pastor condemn me and blast my name because I chose to leave his congregation after he criticized me for not disclosing who I vote for. After that I sued him and the church was shut down. He tried to get me fired from my job, told my new church I was a heretic, and was telling my parents that I was going to hell. I will not live by human definitions because none have proved they are worthy of being my master and none ever will!

I personally have no desire to join anything humans label as “Christian” because most of it is false and blasphemy. I am against church because churches are heretic nests. I believe in a God that sent his Son to show us how to live, and these “church going Christians” are not showing that anymore. You show me a decent Christian who shows through their actions and words the real Jesus then I will resend my accusations but until that day I will not continue to resent “Christians” in general.

I moved away from my home town where I went to the ONLY church I have ever been to that was not just talk and blasphemy in God’s/Jesus’ name. They showed me the love of Jesus and reached me at a point in my life where I only knew hate and anger. They showed me the real Jesus and they alone are the only true Christians in my eyes. Everywhere else I go people claiming to be Christians are heathens that have no right to breathe my air. Yet because God loves even the sinners and hopes to bring them back to Himself he does not kill them where they sin. If He sees value in their pathetic lives then I have no right arguing with Him, but I will not ever acknowledge them as living a “Christian” life if they show evil like they do.

I am far from perfect but I have learned through Jesus to reserve my anger for those who blaspheme in His and the Father’s names. I personally could care less about human politics anymore because it is a downward spiral that breeds evil and hate. I am far from an Evangelical Christian too because I do not go preaching every chance I get, but many around me know my faith by my actions. I believe and live the simple philosophy that in all the things you do, you do it to the best of your ability, with integrity, and in a manner that honors God. When people admire my work I just remind them that it is a job, I attempt to separate my success from me because it was something that was asked of me to begin with. When I go out of my way to help others I do so and move on. I do not linger or wait for acknowledgement because my worth doesn’t come from humans.

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Jerry November 2, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Tim – Don’t get disgusted because many of the churches you went to did not compare to your old hometown church. I was in the same situation and I became disgruntled just as you have. I became bound and determined to find me a new church and I went through a lot of them and even though I had been a Baptist for all my life, I tried different denominations.

My son had made a new friend at school and was going to spend a Saturday afternoon with him and I took him to this boys house the best way I knew as it was way out in the country and I wasn’t familiar with the area. After I dropped him off and met the parents and of course they asked where I lived and I told them I had a hard time getting there originally, even with Google Maps. They told me a different way to go and on my way home I passed by an older church in the country, but it was pretty big and it just looked nice sitting up on that hill and it was a Presbyterian church.

The next morning I decided to go to it and that was 5 years ago and I have found my home. I got cancer a few years ago and there was somebody there every weekend to help me clean the house and cut the grass plus they would record all the sermons for me to watch at home. the preacher never preached a sermon where he judged anyone for what they did as he knew that was not his place and let the congregation know that it was not their place to judge.

A new to go back to my house turned out to be the answer to many prayers. Instead of getting very disgruntled at things now, I instead have learned to keep trying and be patient.

So, Tim keep looking with an open mind and don’t ignore the signs that might just pop up in front of your face cause it might be the one you have looking for.

Many blessings,
Jerry

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In Trust October 30, 2013 at 4:06 am

According to “Biblical principles” I can have multiple wives, slaves, and murder.

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Melangell November 13, 2013 at 2:56 pm

May God save us from “biblical principles”!!!

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Eddie December 17, 2013 at 12:05 pm

The problem is “Who defines the principles?” While many things are clear (essentials), others are less so (secondary and tertiary issues). Are those secondary and tertiary things considered “principles” by the group? It is a valid question.

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Jason October 19, 2013 at 9:01 am

Emily’s comment didn’t claim she was a Christian, and while she has a valid point about “Biblical principles,” there is a world of difference among Christians on what that term means. CHM seems to leave it open to interpretation aside from the other three qualifications for membership:
• abstain from the use of tobacco and the illegal use of drugs
• follow biblical teaching on the use of alcohol
• attend group worship regularly if health permits

Nothing here is unreasonable for a practicing Christian. Even same-sex couples in liberal denominations qualify (probably only because nobody has challenged that loophole, but it’s there regardless). They simply expect you to attend a church, consume alcohol moderately, and abstain form tobacco (to which I’d take exception to the very occasional cigar or pipe, as traditional health and life insurance is primarily concerned with cigarette use).

It’s not for everyone, but as an American I’m glad there are some other options out there. Here’s an NPR story on this topic: http://www.npr.org/2013/09/28/227238887/the-religious-alternative-to-obamacares-individual-mandate

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Yasi October 21, 2013 at 7:01 pm

That is funny! I have a news flash for you, alcohol IS a drug. You may say that it’s legal. Not for everyone. If you are one day from turning 21, you still can’t buy and consume alcohol legally. Therefore you are consuming an illegal drug. I I get you, the bible is selective about which drugs believers can use to get their fix.

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Anthony November 15, 2013 at 10:54 am

In some states minors CAN legally consume alcohol (like Texas) while in the presents of their legal parent(s)/guardian(s). Also wine is served & drank as per the bible of which no age of consumer is stated.

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MFS October 21, 2013 at 12:04 pm

As a post-Christian (I reject organized religions and clergy but absolutely believe in GOD and Jesus) I guess I wouldn’t qualify either.

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Yasi October 21, 2013 at 6:57 pm

I’m on the same boat you are on.

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Lee October 28, 2013 at 2:43 pm

I have always been on that boat…

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Diana October 21, 2013 at 4:18 pm

I signed up. You must attend church regularly, not smoke, or drink. Those are not impossible things to do. I liked when I called they prayed with me. It gives me happiness to know my money helps others when I do not need help. It is truly an Acts 2 organization. God bless you all.

@MFS I wondered if you had thought about having a house church? There is a growing movement within the USA to have house churches. God bless you all.

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Lola N October 21, 2013 at 4:26 pm

I am a Christian but I would have trouble putting much faith in this system. It does not, by it’s own definition, sound like a true insurance policy. After my episode with Cellulitis last year, I know how fast hospital and doctors bills can add up. So far treating the Cellulitis in my leg has cost in excess of $100,000.00 and I still have occasional problems resulting from this.
So I am wondering just how many large medical bills would it take before this whole system would go bankrupt?
I am not trying to rain on anyone’s parade but this whole plan sounds shaky to me. And what recourse is there if we pay in and then this goes belly up?

Oh … And one more point …. if you want to appear to be a respectable site, it would be a good idea to have someone proof read your website content before you post it. Read this statement from the second paragraph and see if you think it sounds right …
“There are healthcare plans available through you local insurance broker, or member organizations like AARP, but not everyone can afford private insurance.”

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Marie October 21, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Just curious about the people who consider going to doctors and taking medication as “against their religion” and therefor don’t use insurance. They believe God will take care of them, and if they die, so be it. Will they be forced to pay?

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Yasi October 21, 2013 at 7:10 pm

Hmm, that’s a very good question Marie. I suppose not because their abstinence from health insurance is based on their religion. They could sue the government. I’m just taking out if my rear end since I really don’t know. I’ve got me thinking now.

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robert December 25, 2013 at 6:33 pm

I have health issues that are life threatening but I still opt to avoid doctors. I believe in diet control. diet is the majority of most health issues.

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Yasi October 21, 2013 at 7:06 pm

The problem is that if they don’t allow you to drink, then they are excluding some Christians. Paine Christians believe that drinking alcohol is a sin while others don’t as ling as you do it with moderation. I suppose the Jesus drinking wine made his a sinner and a bad example to others. Yeah I know about the excuses that some Christians use… ” Jesus only drunk non alcoholic wine.” Haha, yeah! If you believe that, I have some real state that I would like to sell you on Mars or Jupiter. You can’t beat my prices!

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Jason October 22, 2013 at 10:43 am

They require you to “follow biblical teaching on the use of alcohol.” To some, that means abstaining completely. To others, moderate consumption is allowed. But across the board, drunkenness is condemned. Long story short, whether you drink or not, don’t abuse it.

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Mike November 6, 2013 at 8:21 pm

Wow some pretty interesting proclamations here about what is or is not “biblical principles” A) While there are some disagreements about how to actually enact certain idea’s found or espoused in the scriptures there is a pretty general “christian ethic” that is soundly Christian and many of you all are pretty much ignoring these central ethics. Before you scream and yell let me give you an illustration. In the Didache literally a 1st century Christian document it advises christians to not do these things: “murder, adultery, fornication, steal, practice magic, practice witchcraft, murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born, covet the things of your neighbor, swear, bear false witness, not speak evil, you shall bear no grudge. be double-minded nor double-tongued,speech shall not be false, nor empty, but fulfilled by deed. covetous, nor rapacious, nor a hypocrite, nor evil disposed, nor haughty, take evil counsel against your neighbor, hate any man; but some you shall reprove, and concerning some you shall pray, and some you shall love more than your own life.” If you took this list to even the most liberal Christian they would agree with most of these things (excepting abortion of a child, of course, which they struggle with precisely because they are dabbling with secular humanism and egalitarianism). The idea that Christians can’t agree on how to behave or interpret scripture, is simply propaganda poppy cock. There is very strong core of Christian ethical pronouncements and Christians are not only in general agreement, this teaching, which is literally 2000 years old, demonstrates that Christians have been saying these types of things for a VERY long time. Jason here pretty much sums of the position of the church which it has been for a long time: “But across the board, drunkenness is condemned. Long story short, whether you drink or not, don’t abuse it.” The ethic is very clear, we can disagree on drinking, but what is clear we should not be abusing alcohol. Could not have said it better my self.

B) Now as to the bible teaching “multiple wives, slaves, and murder.” This statement and others like it demonstrates the most BASIC ignorance of Christian understanding of Scripture. ANY person who would assert some of these things is simply living in complete religious ignorance, on par with a person who says they don’t trust mathematics because 2+2=5. It demonstrates ignorance reminiscent of the ancient world accusing Christians of cannibalism because they were “eating flesh and drinking blood.” Stupidity should be called out whenever it rears it’s head. 1)Just because an act or an event is recounted or retold in scripture it does not automatically mean the Church is praising or recommending the activity. Or that the Scriptures praise it. Judas hung himself does that mean Christians are FOR suicide? 2) The scriptures are not isolated documents. These were works of literature created BY a community of Christians/ Jews FOR a community of Christians/Jews. In this way they are living breathing documents that the Christian community (which our discussion is focused upon) knew must be understood CONTEXTUALLY not scientifically. You don’t simply read the scriptures Genesis to Revelation like a science text book. Rather for the Christian Jesus is the hermeneutical KEY to understanding what you are reading. So for the commandments in the Law that permitted slavery, the early church did not automatically accept them on face value, “the law says it, it must be true!”. They contextually understood that for the Christian the Law and that law in particular had to be understood through the lens of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. Just because the “old covenant” (Christian understanding of the Jewish Law) permitted slavery it did not follow automatically therefore that slavery was mandated. It took several centuries for the church to hermeneutically draw the connection between spiritual freedom brought through Christ’s victory over sin and physical freedom that OUGHT to result from that same belief. Why do you think that Christian Europe for the 5-15 centuries on the whole did not practice slavery? (non Christian tribes did but as they christianized slavery on the whole went away) Where do you think the very IDEA comes from that slavery is bad? Most of the world historically practice/ed slavery. Do you think it’s an accident that Europe dabbled in it for a very short time and then generally abandoned it? A better example might be the multiple wives issue. The law stated that person could not only marry more than one woman but that divorce was an option. Jesus changed the Law concerning this issue. The church read both the Old covenant commands and Jesus’ new commands and understood hermeneutically through Jesus that divorce was wrong, but that God’s plan was for family unity and love not sexual enjoyment and usury. Hence you get Christians “going beyond” the scriptures to state monogamy is central to christian ethics. It’s hermeneutically pulled from Jesus teaching on love, community family and divorce. 3) The Christian Church was intimately involved in the creation and preservation of the scriptures AND was involved in the near 1,000 year process of deciding exactly what was or was not scripture. As a result the scriptures and the community of faith are not simply connected but causally so intertwined that the very idea of scripture implies a community of faith and the community of faith understands itself as a community OF the scriptures. The idea of scriptures existing without a community of faith to embody and live them is SCRIPTURALLY incoherent(the collection of works themselves assume and demand a God centered community). What this means is that the church understands that it’s roll is to live and give life to the scriptures not simply blindly follow them. This is why the church can address and re address the same issues over an over again. 4) I don’t expect you to every remotely understand the issues at stake here considering you are so ignorant that you can’t understand that a christian understand TWO covenants Old and New whenever the scripture is read. But considering the display of ignorance here is so monumentally inept I have to point out: If you don’t understand the issues at stake, you probably shouldn’t open your mouth. By the way I don’t mean this to be insulting but rather I mean it exactly as I say it. Ignorance on display here is appalling. Know what your going to criticize don’t erect straw men and expect to not have people point it out.

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In Trust November 7, 2013 at 4:15 am

Thank you for the response. It was interesting. What I am hearing you say is that the bible is a guideline and the church, or an individual, can interpret it as they wish, adapting it at need. That would explain why there are so many conflicting sects in Christianity.

It seems that the only way to contextually read the bible with any degree of accuracy would be to read it in the original Hebrew. Can you provide an accurate description of a period of weeks your life from decades ago?

My point is: How can you hold up the bible and say, “this is the word of god” and then change it to your liking?

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scott November 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm

Sounds racist to me.
Christian participants only.
I thought god loved us all.
Guess not!!

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Brett November 8, 2013 at 1:38 am

A belief system is not a race.
God does love everyone.
Unfortunately, due to the vast number of pictures of God manifest in those claiming his name, it can be hard to see sometimes. Take your eyes off of your fellow struggling humans and get to know God for yourself. Hopefully you can find a group of people to worship together with, but no group unto itself has the full answer.
May God bless you in your search. He promises that if you seek Him, you will find Him.

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Sud1 November 26, 2013 at 3:17 pm

“You’ll also need to follow a few lifestyle rules, like avoiding tobacco products, drinking alcohol only occasionally, and living by “Biblical principals.””

LOL!!! if we could do that in America, we likely wouldn’t need much healthcare.

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