Mayo Clinic ends relationship with health care sharing ministries

Medi-Share, among the largest health care sharing ministries in the country, sent emails to members announcing the change this month. The organization cautioned reimbursement may be “significantly less” than what was charged because of the loss of in-network discounts, according to the notice.

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“We are disappointed the Mayo Clinic has decided that it will no longer accept payment from all health care sharing ministries, despite the strong relationship Medi-Share has built with Mayo over the last few years,” Karen Daniels, deputy medical director at Medi-Share, said in a statement July 24.

Medi-Share members going through oncology or rare disease treatment at Mayo Clinic are advised to contact their care manager to identify alternative providers, Daniels said. Medi-Share also has an online search tool to find providers in its network.

Mayo Clinic in a statement said it accepts health insurance from companies that are licensed and accredited, something health care sharing ministries such as Medi-Share lack.

According to the statement:

“These ministries are not subject to the oversight, legal requirements or consumer protections that real insurance requires. While health ministries represent themselves as an insurance alternative, there is no guarantee that they will cover the health expenses of their members, particularly because they are not required to maintain reserves to cover medical claims. Therefore, patients who rely on health ministries are effectively uninsured, and providers must work with them accordingly.”

Mayo Clinic said it will work with patients “to find appropriate solutions for their care,” adding, “Patients who seek more comprehensive coverage and administrative support may want to consider policies available from a licensed insurer.”

Health care sharing ministries are similar in concept to traditional health insurance. Members pay into the programs regularly and the money is used to cover the group’s collective medical expenses; however, the nonprofit, typically Christian-based organizations are not regulated as insurance companies and don’t have the same protections or coverage.

Medi-Share, for instance, says members “do not pay for abortions, drug addictions, or any other unbiblical lifestyles,” according to the organization’s website.

More than 27,000 Minnesotans are members of health care sharing ministries, according to the trade organization Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries. Nationwide, 1.5 million members shared $1.3 billion in medical expenses in 2019.