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Immediately seek medical care. Seek financial assistance when you’re well. Getting well is your first priority. When your condition is stable, you, a friend or a family member responsible for your care can follow the steps under “General information” below.
If you are a Gold member and your condition is not critical but requires immediate care, consider if an urgent care center will meet your needs (emergency rooms are usually more expensive than urgent care centers—and it can take longer for you to be seen).
1. Consider shopping for healthcare providers in your area. Many healthcare providers reduce their charges for self-pay patients. Though as a CHM member you may go to any hospital or doctor’s office, selective “shopping” helps lower the cost of your medical care because you often can receive the same service at a lower price. To compare healthcare pricing in your area, visit www.healthcarebluebook.com. You also can access a list of healthcare providers that other CHM members have recommended.
2. Follow the steps under “General information” below.
Be sure to also visit our provider interaction page.
1. CHM is not insurance, so inform your healthcare provider(s) that you are a self-pay patient and that you’re also a member of Christian Healthcare Ministries, a group that will help with your bills after other forms of assistance have been exhausted. At all times carry your CHM membership card so providers will understand what CHM is and that it’s an eligible option under the U.S. national healthcare law (remember to tell providers to send itemized bills directly to you).
2. Ask for a bill reduction (discount). Build a relationship with your provider(s). Asking for a discount is seeking the same consideration that insured patients receive (due to discounted rates negotiated by their insurers). Many providers will extend a discount to you because it usually means they receive faster payment and experience less hassle and paperwork. Discounts represent more than 40 percent of all medical bills submitted to CHM, so please don’t be shy about asking. Also, any discount (on an eligible bill) you help obtain applies toward your Personal Responsibility amount ($1,000 Silver; $5,000 Bronze).
3. Whenever possible, contact the CHM Member Advocate department before accepting a discount or making a payment. If you have difficulty obtaining a significant discount (at least 40 percent), our staff can help negotiate with your healthcare provider(s) to make sure you get the best possible price for your medical care. Remember that if you pay the bill up-front, negotiations cease. Please don’t make full payment up-front. See #5 below.
4. Apply for any financial assistance available. Many members are surprised to find that they qualify for financial assistance, which is money set aside for the express purpose of helping patients. Ask to speak to a financial counselor or decision-maker and complete any forms they give you.
5. Ask providers to bill you directly and set up a payment plan with your providers. Work with your providers to make whatever monthly payments you can afford until CHM members share your eligible need, at which time their voluntary gifts reimburse your expenditures. Even minimal payments will reassure most providers that the bills will be paid.
6. When you receive your itemized bills, send copies of each bill to Christian Healthcare Ministries, along with the completed Needs Processing forms. CHM must receive your bills and forms within six months of the date of service. Send the bills immediately—even if a discount is pending—because bills are shared by CHM in the order they are received by our office. You can submit bills by mail, fax, or online through the Member Portal.
Be sure to also visit our maternity page.
1. Obtain medical care as soon as you know you’re pregnant.
2. Ask for a prepayment agreement on your clinic/hospital/doctor’s letterhead. These charges are often bundled as a one or two-day stay (sometimes called a “global fee” or “Stork Package”) and are significantly less expensive than being admitted to a facility when it’s time to give birth (Note for Silver and Bronze members: Only charges you incur as a patient of the hospital are eligible for sharing). When asking for a hospital prepayment agreement, keep in mind that room and board charges are not always included in the quoted price.
3. Immediately submit the prepayment agreement and/or bills to the Christian Healthcare Ministries office. Early submission speeds the time for bill sharing; in most cases costs can be shared before your baby is born. Notify the CHM office immediately if your healthcare provider sets a time limit for reduced charges (seven months is common).
4. Any charge (lab, sonogram, etc.) incurred after the original agreement/bills are submitted should be sent to CHM as an “add-on” to the initial amount.