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Local family says alternative to health insurance saved them thousands

(KBTX)
Published: Mar. 21, 2017 at 5:40 PM CDT
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With the rising costs of healthcare, one College Station family is thankful that they decided to become a part of an affordable alternative.

Keith Castleberry is the pastor of Victory Church in College Station.

Four years ago, he and his wife Melissa decided to search for an affordable alternative healthcare.

"We just kind of preemptively started looking and I’m glad we did! Because after we found it, we had signed up for it, and just by coincidence I guess, within 30 days we were dropped by our insurance company,” said Castleberry.

What they found was Medi-Share. The program is a healthcare sharing ministry, where, under the Affordable Care Act, members are exempt from penalties and taxes associated with health care reform laws. The ministry complies with the law, while maintaining principles and standards of the Christian faith.

Once a month, each member deposits a specified amount into a banking account. The amount is unique to each household, and is called “Your Share”. Those numbers are then matched to another member who has a medical bill they need covered.

Members have access to a network of more than 700,000 providers across the United States. Members can see the physician of their choice, but the out-of-pocket costs will be lower if the member chooses a network provider.

"In August of 2014 I thought I was dying," Castleberry said.

"I had several stomach issues and went to the E.R. at CHI St. Joseph's late at night. Come to find out, I had three stomach ulcers, a gallbladder problem, a gallbladder stone. Then, I also had diverticulitis, and I had found out I had Barrett's disease in my throat," the pastor explained.

"All in one night!”

The Castleberry's say Medi-Share has saved them nearly $30,000 since they joined. Michael Gardner, Director of Communications for Christian Care Ministry, says members have shared more than one billion dollars of each other's medical bills since it was founded in 1993.

"We never turn people away from membership because of medical reasons. There are certain situations or pre-existing conditions. Those things have limitations on the amount of medical needs that are eligible for sharing for a certain amount of time,” said Gardner.

The program operates nationwide and currently has more than 270,000 members. Gardner says more than 2,500 infants are born into membership each year.

"It's just like a church. We don't individually give a tremendous amount of money. But when we all put our money together, it really combines into a great effort of helping other people,” said Pastor Castleberry.

If for more information on applications for Medi-Share, or if you would like to learn more about how it works, you can visit the link in the “Related Links” section.