“Refuah” means healing in Hebrew, and unlike many HealthShares, which come from Christian roots, United Refuah is a Jewish organization based in Ohio. Like many Christian HealthShares, Refuah values the religious community it serves and promotes caring for one another. United Refuah was founded by Baruch Chaim Manies, an entrepreneur who wanted to provide a medical cost sharing option to his Jewish community after many Christian HealthShares were unwilling to accept Jewish members. United Refuah is still a new HealthShare, founded in 2018; however, they took over the health sharing program of Maysville Fellowship Medical Aid Plan (founded before 1999).
So far, reviews are generally positive. The HealthShare also provides the only option for Jewish people who want to participate in a medical cost sharing organization that shares their values. Comments from Moishe Katz, the National Director of United Refuah HealthShare, indicate that while members must belong to the Jewish community and share Jewish values, they do not necessarily have to be practicing Jews. However, this is not explicitly stated in the membership guidelines, so prospective members should be cautious.
United Refuah’s member responsibility
Unlike many HealthShares, which calculate member responsibility costs on a per-need basis, United Refuah members pay an “Annual Pre-Share Amount,” which resets on the anniversary of their membership each year. The Pre-Share amount is $500 for a single member, $1,000 for a couple, and $1,500 for a family. After the Annual Pre-Share Amount, United Refuah will share in 80 percent of eligible medical bills. Members have responsibility for 20 percent of their medical bills until they meet an “Annual Co-Share Responsibility.” After the Co-Share amount is met, United Refuah will begin to share 100 percent of a member’s eligible medical costs. The co-share responsibility is $1,000 for single members, $2,000 for couples, and $4,000 for a family.
This means that in one calendar year, a single member could be responsible for up to $1,500 in medical costs (a $500 Annual Pre-Share Amount plus the $1,000 Co-Share Responsibility Amount). Family memberships could pay up to $5,500 in medical bills before their needs are fully shareable. Refuah also charges pregnancy fees in addition to the Annual Pre-Share and Co-Share amounts. However, once these amounts are met, United Refuah HealthShare shares 100 percent of eligible medical bills. Though that might seem daunting, it is actually pretty reasonable as far as member responsibility goes, and much more straightforward than most companies.
Preauthorization with United Refuah HealthShare
One key consideration with United Refuah HealthShare is its strict preauthorization policy—many medical needs are only shareable after preapproval. The reasoning behind this process seems to stem from a desire to keep medical costs low for its members and avoid sharing medical costs that have been over-charged. United Refuah also has maximum amounts for specific services (generally based on the caps placed by Medicare). For example, United Refuah reimburses doctor visits up to 50 percent above the Medicare rate. In these cases, United Refuah helps negotiate rates for patients too.
For emergency care, true emergency care, United Refuah asks for notification within 48 hours of admission. This is also the request they make for maternity admission. Any emergency admission that is reported will be scrutinized by United Refuah to make sure that the, often costly, emergency services were truly medically necessary.
With preapproval, United Refuah seems willing to share costs other HealthShares will not. For instance, some types of therapy and mental wellness visits such as psychological counseling are shareable with certain restrictions. What’s more, United Refuah will share in some preventive care like annual wellness visits, Pap smears, mammograms, and colonoscopy screenings. These services are not subject to the AHP or annual co-share. So, while Refuah closely watches how membership dollars are spent, they are also willing to share in medical expenses that help keep the community healthy.
Here is some of the top information we believe potential members might want to know about this HealthShare.
- Share Jewish beliefs based upon the dictates of the Torah
- Maintain a Jewish lifestyle
- Provide detailed health information to United Refuah
- Be under age 65
- $1,000,000 incident limit
- Simple program structure
- May deny members based on pre-existing conditions or other factors
- Most pre-existing conditions fully shareable after four years of membership
- Mandatory WellCheck program enrollments for members with certain health conditions
- Prescription discounts
- Telehealth available
- No lifetime sharing limit
- $600 annual allowance for preventive care visit per person
- Some therapy and mental health services shareable with pre-approval
- No pregnancy fees for family membership
- Refuah ShareFund allows members to share directly with other members in need
- No maternity sharing for unwed mothers
- Pregnancy fees for mothers in a single or couple membership
- No smoking or tobacco use
- Enrollment fee of $125; annual renewal of $75; $10 credit card fee
- Some pre-existing conditions may never be shareable
- Sixty-day waiting period before sharing fully begins
- No dental or vision sharing or discount options
- Many types of sharing only eligible after pre-notification to Refuah HealthShare
- Additional fee for family memberships with more than six members
- Belong to the Jewish community
- Never participate in hazardous hobbies or professional sports
- Appreciate a simple program structure
- Do not smoke or use tobacco products