About United Refuah
“Refuah” means healing in Hebrew, and unlike many HealthShares, which come from Christian roots, United Refuah is a Jewish organization based in Ohio. They are associated with the Maysville Fellowship Medical Aid Plan Inc. United Refuah was founded by Baruch Chaim Manies, an entrepreneur who also founded the storage facility FiveStar Store It and the family entertainment franchise ClimbZone. He created the HealthShare to provide a medical cost sharing option to his Jewish community after many Christian HealthShares were unwilling to accept Jewish members. Like many Christian HealthShares, Refuah values the religious community it serves and promotes caring for one another. As of March 2022, it is the only Jewish HealthShare available. Members must maintain a Jewish lifestyle and agree to the beliefs outlined in United Refuah’s member guidelines.
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.
One key consideration with United Refuah HealthShare is its strict policy of notifying the HealthShare before electing in medical services, as 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. For this reason, 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.
However, with preapproval, United Refuah seems willing to share costs other HealthShares will not. For instance, some types of preventive care, therapy, and mental wellness visits such as psychological counseling are shareable with certain restrictions. Some of these services are still subject to the member’s Annual Pre-Share Amount before sharing begins.
United Refuah is still a new HealthShare, founded in 2018. 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. Additionally, athough new, United Refuah HealthShare took over the health sharing program of Maysville Fellowship Medical Aid Plan (founded before 1999). This grandfathers Refuah into the clause that allows their members exemption from the ACA tax penalty for uninsured individuals.
- Share United Refuah HealthShare’s Jewish beliefs based upon the dictates of the Torah
- Maintain a Jewish lifestyle
- Provide detailed health information to United Refuah
- Be under age 65
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.
- Maximum shared per incident—$1,000,000
- Average 30-day bill processing time
- Initial enrollment fee of $125; annual renewal of $75
- Refuah ShareFund allows members to share directly with other members in need
- One option for monthly contributions and pre-share amounts; no age tiers
- 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
- Medication discounts through TeleRefuah
- Telehealth available
- No lifetime share limit
- $600 annual allowance for preventive care per person
- Some types of therapy shareable with pre-approval
- Some sharing for mental health services
- No pregnancy fees for family memberships
- No network limitations
- Member portal
- No maternity sharing for unwed mothers
- Pregnancy fees for mothers in a single or couple membership
- No smoking or tobacco use
- Some pre-existing conditions may never be shareable
- Sixty-day waiting period before sharing fully begins
- Must pre-notify Refuah HealthShare of all hospital admissions (besides “true emergencies”)
- No sharing for emergency room services for non-emergency care
- No dental or vision sharing options
- Many types of sharing only eligible after pre-notification to Refuah HealthShare
- No visible workplace or group options
- Additional membership costs for family memberships of more than six members
- Belong to the Jewish community
- Never participate in hazardous hobbies or professional sports
- Are not members of the military
- Do not smoke or use tobacco products