MELBOURNE, Fla. — When you first enter the headquarters of Christian Care Ministry (CCM), best known to Christians around the country for its Medi-Share®healthcare sharing program, you’re struck by two things.
First, everything just works — and works with the kind of apparent effortlessness that comes from great dedication and constant behind-the-scenes effort. Of course, you’d expect nothing less of any ministry that serves 410,000 members drawn from 154,000 families who come from every state in the Union.
The second thing that strikes you is how this spirit of excellence is infused with deep Christian passion. Meetings begin with prayer, there is a staff-led chapel service every week, and employees are active in their churches and communities. And in their board room, a simple picture says it all:
God’s people sharing with each other according to God’s Word is what makes all the difference.
But what you’re hard pressed to find at Medi-Share® is much focus on the fact that 2018 marks its 25th anniversary. Ask about the history of the organization, and you’ll learn just enough to fill a tight sentence: CCM began in a garage in Melbourne, Florida in 1993 when founder John Reinhold partnered with the American Evangelistic Association to form and operate CCM and Medi-Share®. Ask for more details, and they’ll direct you to a booklet that has a two-page timeline with a few photos. That’s about it as far as they dwell on their past as a ministry.
And for good reason: Christian Care Ministry is far too busy accomplishing its mission in the present and leading healthcare sharing into the future to spend much time replaying its past.
You don’t have to be a genius (or a genius TV doctor, for that matter) to know that healthcare in the United States is in real trouble and that those troubles have a real and sharply negative effect on individuals and households.
We pay more per capita for healthcare than any other country in the world — more than twice the average of other developed countries. America was 50th out of 55 countries in 2014, according to a Bloomberg index that assesses life expectancy, healthcare spending per capita and relative spending as a share of the gross domestic product. The Commonwealth Fund sums it up this way: “In comparison to adults in the other 10 countries, adults in the U.S. are sicker and more economically disadvantaged. The resulting challenge to the U.S. health system is compounded by higher health care costs, greater income disparities, and relatively low levels of spending on social services.”
But in this problem is the opportunity that drives Medi-Share®. If the cost of healthcare could be reduced while still allowing Christians to be protected against burdensome, unforeseen bills, then literally millions of dollars each year could be in the hands of God’s people, empowering them to pay off debt, support churches and charities, and lay aside money for the future. Chu Soh, COO of Christian Care Ministry, thinks of it this way: “If each of our 154,000 families is saving an average of $500 a month, collectively that frees $77 million our members can reinvest in their churches, the families, their communities—God’s kingdom—each month. That’s $924 million a year to impact the world.” This is the vision that consumes Medi-Share® at 25.
Well, not the only one.
The other is the model for a sharing community found in the pages of the New Testament. Acts 2:44–47 describes not only what the early church did, but also how it impacted a watching world:
“All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. … They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Here we see the model that has inspired Christian Care Ministry from the beginning: a community of mutual sharing, actively engaged in good deeds that creategoodwill among all people, which in turn provides the opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus.
Healthcare sharing ministries (HCSMs) like Medi-Share® have seen great growth in popularity since the passage of the Affordable Healthcare Act in 2010 allowed people of faith to choose an HCSM instead of health insurance without paying a penalty. And with that growth has come more scrutiny from the press. Michael Gardner, senior director of communications for Christian Care Ministry, observed,
“Most reporters I talk to think we’ve created a cheap Christian health insurance company. But it’s important to realize that we’re not insurance, we never intended to be insurance, and we don’t now. Nor do we oppose insurance of any kind. To the contrary, we believe people should be able to choose the best healthcare solution for them, whether health insurance or a healthcare sharing ministry. But they should always have a choice that preserves their religious freedom and honors their faith, their values, and their conscience. The whole reason Medi-Share® was created was to follow the Bible and live out our faith by bearing each other’s healthcare burdens. This passion drove us long before the Affordable Care Act, and it will drive us long after. It will also drive us to provide new innovative programs if we have 1,000 members, or 1 million. We’re about mission — not market share.
“The real story, the one that animates us and should animate the press is this: during the past 25 years, Medi-Share® members have freely and voluntarily shared $1.9 billion of each other’s medical bills. And shared 100 percent of the eligible amount—not 80 or 90 or even 98 percent — 100 percent. No law compelled them. No regulation made them. No threat forced them. Just Christians, following the word of God, sharing with the people of God, and trusting that their fellow Christians will be there for them. Now that’s a story.”
So, when it comes to the best way to celebrate 25 years of ministry, CCM naturally gravitated to sharing because it’s at the heart of everything they do. Out of this was born Christian Care Ministry’s inaugural Day of Sharing. On Oct. 6, employees, their families, and Medi-Share® members across the nation joined together to perform acts of service in their local communities. “Our goal was to inspire others to share tangible acts of faith, hope and love in a way that betters their communities, allows them to share the Gospel, and most importantly glorifies God,” said Gardner. “We’re already planning next year’s event.”
Gardner concluded, “Christians sharing each other’s burdens and modeling an authentic sharing community is the perfect foundation for our next 25 years.”
About Christian Care Ministry
Based in Melbourne, Florida, Christian Care Ministry operates the Medi-Share® health care sharing program through which members voluntarily and directly share each other’s medical bills. Since the program’s inception in 1993, Medi-Share® members have had more than $2.9 billion of their medical bills shared and discounted. Medi-Share® has more than 400,000 members in all 50 states.
More than just healthcare, Medi-Share® is a community of people who share their lives, faith, talents and resources and pray for and encourage one another. For more information, visit www.MediShare.com/News.