How many times have you heard that you NEED benefits? Like there are NO options for health insurance if you don’t go the corporate employee route. This is a lie.
Christians are actually revolutionizing the health care industry with a biblical concept - cost sharing! This blog post shares a story of how I had my 2nd baby, without insurance, for FREE and how we may far less than many others are paying for those benefits they are slaves to. If you aren’t so much interested in the details of the cost of a baby, just skimming through this will help you understand how cost sharing plays out with discounts and reimbursements when you have medical expenses. Feel free to comment, after you checked out the links, with any questions!
What are the pregnancy and delivery bills you can expect?
During the pregnancy you’ll go to the OB/GYN a lot. I’m talking about 14 times, more if you have complications.
If you operate as self-pay like I did, you can get an agreement that covers everything. My particular OB/GYN charges all self-pay patients $2200, regardless of how many appointments they use. They were really easy about payments and because we had the agreement way at the beginning of the pregnancy, we were reimbursed before we had to pay much of the balance.
In my case, this arrangement did NOT include lab work or the 20 week ultrasound.
Pregnancy Lab work
Pregnancy screening $655
Gestational diabetes test $185
Some other lab work $19 & $29
Did you notice the pregnancy screening was way more than the other lab work? You can save a TON of money by shopping around. The cheap tests were through requestatest.com. After I had done my pregnancy screening at the lab my OB/GYN always uses, I found out I could have done it for less than $100 if I had looked for more affordable options.
20 week ultrasound: $265
My doctor goes easy on ultrasounds and I didn’t have any complications but it’s entirely possible for women to have more than 1 ultrasound. (My OB/GYN did have a simple ultrasound machine where we got to see the baby at 8 weeks and then check the positioning of the baby close to her due date. This was included in the OB/GYN agreement.)
That covers the pregnancy but there are a lot more expenses for the labor and delivery. I wish I could have had a simple agreement with the hospital the way I did for the OB/GYN but that’s not how it worked out.
Our hospital stay bills:
Hospital bills $11,162 originally but discounted to $7,256 (it came in two bills, one for me and one for the baby and we financed it with 0% interest so we didn’t have to pay it all before reimbursement)
Anesthesiologist $2415 originally but discounted to $1932 for paying without a payment plan
Hearing test $239 originally but discounted to $120
Lab Work $71 (came in a couple different bills)
$150 for Pediatric rounds during the hospital stay
I was really concerned about having a huge hospital bill right after delivery, but we didn’t even receive the bill for a while. Once we had our itemized statement we got on an interest free payment plan and our first payment wasn’t due for a bit. The baby was born 2/1/18, we made our first payment in mid-April. We received our reimbursement check mid-August, four months later. (To be fair, I made a couple mistakes with submitting and I probably wasn’t as prompt as I could have been.)
Post-hospital pediatric expenses:
$75 for 1 week appointment
$75 for the 1 month appointment
That is $3,353 during the pregnancy, $9,529 for the hospital stay and $150 in Pediatric well visits in the first month including the discounts.
And the grand total is...$13,032 total for pregnancy, hospital stay and first month of baby health bills.
I did pay $135 for an initial lactation consultation and then $69 for a follow up that were not eligible for reimbursement. I have since learned that I could have received lactation support for free at the “Milk Bar” at Integris Hospital in Edmond, OK. I attended one meeting there and after that I no longer needed special attention for nursing.
Also, be aware that babies continue to need more well appointments at 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, 9 months. 1 year, 15 months, 18 months, 2 year and then once a year after that. After the first 3 months, well appointments aren’t covered for reimbursement.
How did I get all this reimbursed?
It was all reimbursed through Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM), a health cost sharing ministry. It is not insurance but it does avoid penalties under Obamacare.
Here are a few tidbits from their website that cover some of the most common questions I’m asked when I share about it.
CHM is a “nonprofit health cost sharing ministry through which Christians voluntarily share each other’s medical bills. It is not an insurance company. CHM is based on Galatians 6:2 (“Carry each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”) and on the actions of the New Testament church found in Acts 2 and 4.”
“To be CHM members, participating adults must be Christians living by biblical principles, including abstaining from the use of tobacco and the illegal use of drugs (1 Corinthians 6:19-20), following biblical teaching on the use of alcohol, and attending group worship regularly if health permits (Hebrews 10:25). There are no restrictions based on age, weight, geographic location or health history.”
“Adult children can be a part of your membership until their 26th birthday as long as they meet all of the following qualifications:
They must be Christians living by biblical principles.
They must be single.
They must be your legal dependents (i.e. they must be reported as dependents on your income tax forms).”
“CHM has three main programs from which you can choose: Gold, Silver, and Bronze. Membership also is based on units. One unit is one qualifying individual; two units are two qualifying individuals; and three units are three or more qualifying individuals. Gold membership is $150 per unit, per month; Silver is $85 per unit, per month; Bronze is $45 per unit, per month.”
You need a gold membership to have maternity bills covered. You must have a due date for delivery at least 300 days after joining CHM for bills to be eligible for sharing. The couple that introduced us to this actually miscalculated on this; big mistake. But they still love the program because they racked up huge bills with their daughter on something else and paid nothing for it.
In our family I am a gold member, our daughters are silver (it didn’t go up for the new baby because our family already had 3 units), and my husband is bronze. That’s $280 a month. I’ve heard friends say they pay almost $1K/month for their family’s insurance and then they have to pay co-pays and reach deductibles. Plus insurance makes it that much more confusing to attempt to find value in health care using free market principles like price comparing.
The con is that you have to pay for well visits but really why should insurance pay for that? That’s like your car insurance paying for you to get your oil changed. That sounds nice, but you pay more every month for that benefit. It was an obvious choice for us to save hundreds each month, even if some months we have to pay for a $75 doctor’s visit. For us, this was better than being on my husband’s insurance through work.
Plus I love that it acts like true insurance. You don’t pay if something goes wrong. (Even though they like to emphasize, it is NOT insurance. It’s just that in my mind it works more like the way insurance should.)
They also have an option to protect you against catastrophic bills (defined as bills exceeding $125K per illness.) I always hear about how when people get cancer or something like that, it totally destroys the family financially. During such a trial it is such a blessing to know that 100% will be reimbursed. This option is called “Brother’s Keeper” and you can be covered with a $40 annual (nonrefundable) fee per membership plus a variable quarterly fee. So far I believe the quarterly fees have been about $80 and I believe that covers my husband, me and our first daughter. I believe it historically has ended up being a bit over $10/month per member. I pray we’ll never have to take advantage of this but I love knowing that I am supporting fellow believers during their times of struggle.
Another con is that it’s not always easy to get straight forward answers about price. The organization encourages you to shop around and ask for discounts but sometimes people get soooooo confused when you say I’m self-pay. Why this is so difficult, I don’t know. This just shows how desperately healthcare needs transparency in prices and to untangle from the web of private insurance.
Additionally it does get a little annoying when people act like you are poor and in a rough patch in your life without insurance. This is just an exceedingly better option than most insurance plans. I should feel sorry for THEM for not considering creative and superior solutions for health care. Perhaps I'm just sensitive about it. : )
Either way, like I say, $280/month for a family of 4 ain’t bad. I love that it won’t go up when we have more kids. I love that we didn’t have to pay for anything for the whole pregnancy and birth (which grossed at over $13K including self pay discounts.) Yes, our well visits cost $75 for our kids, but actually I believe they are reimbursing the appointments for the first 3 months and that is still cheaper than spending hundreds more each month on insurance premiums.
If you decide to go with Christian Healthcare Ministries, please be sure to share that Alexandra Davis Member ID: 298534
That gives me a free month of membership, which would be a tremendous blessing to our family without costing you a dime! I truly believe in this ministry and it’s saved our family hundreds every month. Whether you use my name or not, I believe this is a great option! If something about this particular cost sharing system doesn’t work for you, I encourage you to research other similar programs.
Find out more about CHM here.
Let me know in the comments, have you considered something like this as an alternative to health insurance?