Consumers say religious medical sharing program didn’t cover medical bills – WFTV


ORLANDO, Florida. — Thousands of families across the country rely on a central Florida church group to pay their medical bills.

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Action 9 discovered that some members had donated for years, then claimed the medical share program refused to pay when they needed help the most.

“You feel like a victim, you feel like a fool, because you paid all that money, and they just kept it,” said Anthony Benedict, who felt betrayed by a care sharing ministry. healthcare he trusted to cover his family’s medical bills.

Benoit paid monthly fees for 10 years to Christian Care Ministry and its Medi-Share program.

Last year, her son Anthony Benedict Jr. ended up in intensive care with a brain injury after a violent car accident.

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“In a coma for three days, three broken ribs, fractured face,” Benedict Jr. said.

It’s still very hard for him to talk about the accident, but Benedict Sr. is very loud and angry about what followed when he submitted medical bills over $150,000 to Medi-Share.

“When you needed cover, was she there?” Action 9’s Todd Ulrich asked.

“We paid everyone. Now it’s your turn to deliver and they haven’t,” Benedict Sr. replied.

According to the complaint he sent to the Florida Attorney General, Medi-Share continued to deny requests to pay his medical bills.

Each time he called, Benedict Sr. said someone in the group offered to pray for him.

“I like to pray. I like to pray that you pay my bills. It’s my prayer,” Benedict Sr. said as he responded to the person on the phone.

Medi-Share promotions indicate that members make monthly donations and the money is shared to cover medical expenses.

Medi-Share is operated by Christian Care Ministry and is based in an office building in Melbourne, Florida.

Action 9 has reviewed its contracts and websites, and the organization clarifies that it is not traditionally regulated health insurance. Still, some consumers weren’t so sure.

“It sounded exactly like insurance. They just used different words,” Georgi Dye said.

Ulrich contacted Dye in Texas after finding his complaint with the Florida Attorney General. She claims Medi-Share refused to cover her son’s $32,000 medical bill.

Dye says he nearly lost his arm in an all-terrain vehicle accident, but the group denied paying because his son was an underage illegal passenger.

“They denied the claim on the basis that the accident was not within their Christian guidelines,” Dye said.

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Christian Care Ministry, Medi-Share, has 84 complaints to the Better Business Bureau. Action spoke with BBB President Holly Salmons.

“We contacted the company in April 2022 regarding a series of complaints,” Salmons said.

Customers told the agency that their complaints were denied or that managers failed to respond. Later, Christian Care acknowledged the bureau’s concerns and said it was addressing these issues.

The BBB found that many consumers had not read the sharing agreement restrictions.

“If you’re not willing to take the time to read it cover to cover, this isn’t for you,” Salmons said.

Action 9 contacted Christian Care Ministry. The organization said it could not discuss its members’ health issues, but the two families had other coverage that could pay out before Medi-Share. Christian Care Ministry also said its program is based on biblical stewardship with member-voted guidelines that fully disclose what is covered, and that it has 400,000 members nationwide.

After contacting the BBB, Benedict Sr. says that after 14 months, Christian Care has paid most of his medical bills. However, he is still switching to traditional insurance.

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“When you really need it, it’s there. Get real assurance,” Benedict Sr. said.

Since it is unregulated and there are no guarantees, the program costs much less than medical insurance. This may work for some families, but there are coverage limits and the possibility of denial of claims.

Response from Medi Share:

Medi-Share is a Christian community that facilitates the sharing of medical costs for its members based on biblical stewardship and accountability. Medi-Share is not health insurance, and the member-voted Medi-Share Guidelines govern what is and is not eligible for sharing.

Due to member confidentiality and protected health information, we cannot speak to the exact details of the cases you mentioned. Medi-Share has contacted individual members to clarify what steps have been taken to resolve outstanding issues.

Medi-Share is not insurance, and when members join, they agree to the Medi-Share guidelines voted on by members. These guidelines state that if a member’s expenses are covered by insurance of any kind, such as health or auto insurance, or if a third party is responsible for payment of those expenses, Medi-Share serves as payer. secondary.

The Medi-Share team also works diligently to help members navigate state, federal, and private patient assistance programs for which they may be eligible. As a nonprofit, these services help us better manage members’ money to ensure that if there are other sources of funding or other forms of payment, they are pursued.

In both cases mentioned, other potential payers were involved, and as Medi-Share is secondary to any other payers, due diligence was required to determine and confirm whether these other payers were liable before eligible invoices were released. shared.

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