Christian families in AR sharing the cost of medical bills

HOT SPRINGS (KATV) - What if you could have your medical bills paid for without any health insurance? Thousands of Christians across the nation are doing just that through a healthcare sharing ministry.

The Cangelosi family is very busy keeping up with a 5-year-old, a 3-year-old, and a 2-year-old. But when Tanner got pregnant with what she thought was baby number four, they were in for a surprise of a lifetime.

"Well that looks like three, but I can never read these things right," said Tanner.

Sure enough, the ultrasound showed that Tanner was pregnant with triplets.

"We were just breathing in a paper bag for a while trying to figure it all out. How do we raise six kids five and under? So that's the big question mark for us," said Cory Cangelosi, a pastor a New Life Church in Hot Springs.

While a lot remains unknown for the Cangelosis, one thing they know for sure is how they will pay their medical bills.

That's because they belong to Medi-Share,{}a healthcare sharing program where Christians share financial resources to pay each other's medical expenses.

"The concept is built off the early church, and the book of Acts," said Tony Meggs, the President and CEO of Christian Care Ministry. "The way those believers simply took care of each other by sharing their resources with each other."

Medi-Share has about 75,000 members nationwide and has been around for more than 20 years.

In that time, $825 million has been shared among its members.

Although it is not insurance... it is similar.

Members pay a monthly amount, kind of like a premium. And have an annual out-of-pocket amount that they have to cover, similar to a deductible.

But what's different is that members decide what's covered and what's not. All based on Biblical principles and all clearly outlined on their website.

"It is unique, it's not for everybody.{}It's based on Biblical concepts and some Christian principles and there's a lifestyle agreement that you have to agree to be a part of the membership," said Meggs.

The Cangelosis switched to Medi-Share four years ago. They liked their insurance company at the time but were worried about looming changes to the healthcare system. And have been pleasantly surprised at how much money they've saved. Especially after comparing the out-of-pocket costs associated with the births of baby number one and baby number two.

"Same delivery, same hospital, same doctor, everything was the same except our premium and our deductible with our first insurance company verses what we paid with Medi-Share, it was less than half," said Cory.

And members of healthcare sharing ministries are exempt from the new federal healthcare law.

Which is likely why interest in Medi-Share has been on the rise.

"In a 2300 page bill, or law, doesn't matter if you come from the right side or the left side of the aisle, you're going to find something in 2300 hundred pages you don't like," said Meggs.

And while saving money is beneficial and helpful, what the Cangelosis like the best is knowing they're helping other Christians.

"They show you this much goes to administrative fees, and the people that run it. And here are the families. This is how much of your monthly portion went to these families, this family, this family. And its neat knowing that I'm helping those families," said Cory.

And Tanner says the way the company treats you is more like church than customer service.

"This lady just took her time with me and she prayed with me afterward and I was really nervous about our visit. I forget what I thought they had but I felt so like okay, it's going to be okay," said Tanner.

Prayers... something the Cangelosis and they're loved ones will be doing a lot of in the days to come.

"We're excited and definitely scared all at the same time and a little freaked out. But obviously this was God's plan so we know he's going to provide, just nice to know that our all of our medical needs will be covered," said Cory.

Because Medi-Share is not health insurance, members remain ultimately responsible for their own medical bills. Upon joining Medi-Share, members sign a document acknowledging that they understand the program guidelines.{}Click here for more information or call 1-800-psalm23.