The Challenge of Health Insurance for Missionaries

Feb 1, 2023

Reading time: 7 Minutes

Updated February 2024


Preparing for missionary work involves spiritual readiness and taking steps toward practical readiness, including securing reliable health care. Unlike insurance, missionary health care demands flexibility and global accessibility, adapting to the unique challenges of international travel and other countries’ medical processes.  


In this article, we’ll explore the essential features to look for in health care for missionaries, ensuring your health needs are met no matter where your mission takes you. Understanding these key elements will empower you to make an informed decision about your health care needs, allowing you to focus on your mission with peace of mind. 


Understanding the Health Care Landscape for Missionaries 


Navigating health care as a missionary requires an understanding of some key health care concepts. Chief among these is 'underwriting,' the process by which insurers assess risk. For missionaries whose lives are inherently unpredictable, this process poses significant challenges, often leading to traditional insurance providers hesitating to offer insurance coverage. 


Another important consideration is 'medical expenses.' Unlike the typical scenarios of doctor visits or prescription refills, missionaries often encounter diverse medical needs, ranging from vaccinations for international travel to emergency care in remote areas. 


Consequently, conventional insurance policies often fall short for missionaries. Their design does not align with the varied nature of missionary travel and work.  


Specific Health Care Needs of Missionaries 


The health care needs of missionaries are unique and often not well-understood by those who haven't experienced life abroad. Choosing the right medical care is important. This section explores these specific needs, emphasizing the importance of finding a program that aligns with a missionary's diverse and dynamic lifestyle. 


Between Missions: Your health care should remain effective during inactive mission periods. It's essential to have a program that provides seamless care both in your home country and abroad, matching your mobile lifestyle. 


International Care: Life can be unpredictable, and situations may arise that require an urgent return home or change of location. Your health care should include international care, ensuring you receive necessary support during sudden, unplanned trips. 


Emergency Medical Evacuation: In the event of a medical emergency in a remote location, having access to emergency medical evacuation is important. This includes services like airlifts to the nearest hospital, providing a safety net in critical situations. 


Long-Term Health Care for Missionaries: Your missionary health care option should be comprehensive and globally inclusive, whether your mission or international lifestyle spans months or years. This includes regular health check-ups and care for unforeseen medical situations wherever you are in the world. 

What to Look for in a Missionary Medical Health Care Program 


So, let’s talk about what makes a great missionary medical program: 


Comprehensive International Health Care: Your program should offer robust international health care, ensuring you're protected whether you're engaged in outreach in Peru or conducting educational missions in Thailand. Care must be consistent and follow you across borders. 


Flexible to Mission Requirements: Health care should be adaptable, catering to various mission lengths and formats, whether short-term or long-term, individual or group travel. 


Preparation for Emergencies: The program should encompass contingencies such as sudden illnesses, accidents, emergency medical evacuation, and repatriation, safeguarding you against the unexpected. 


In-Network Providers: When in the US, make use of your health care’s in-network providers to help manage billing directly and minimize the complications of handling medical bills in different time zones and foreign countries. 


Affordability and Transparency: Choose a program that aligns with your missionary budget. It should be clear about member responsibility costs and out-of-pocket expenses, and devoid of hidden costs, ensuring financial predictability. 


A well-chosen missionary medical health care program will provide essential medical care and offer peace of mind, allowing you to focus on your missionary work, independent of whether you're a domestic or international missionary. Your health care should act as a reliable partner in your journey, offering comprehensive medical care, adaptable to the dynamic nature of missionary travel. 


Medi-Share: A Solution Tailor-Made for Missionaries 


Medi-Share is a Christian health care sharing ministry that helps members share the burden of medical expenses based on the biblical principles of Galatians 6:2.  


Here are the basics of how Medi-Share works: when a member has a medical bill, they submit it to Medi-Share, where it is reviewed and, if eligible for sharing, is either applied to the member’s Annual Household portion or submitted to the community of Medi-Share members for sharing.  


Medi-Share is not an insurance company, so it does not charge any premiums or fees, and there are no deductibles or coinsurance. Instead, members pay a monthly contribution, or share, and have an Annual Household Portion (AHP), which is an out-of-pocket amount that members must pay before their bills are shared.  


Here are some of the advantages of Medi-Share for missionaries: 



Medi-Share is typically more affordable than health insurance, especially for missionaries on a tight budget. Most Medi-Share families save an average of $5,000 yearly compared to insurance. 



Medi-Share members can use their membership anywhere in the world, which is important for missionaries traveling frequently. 



Medi-Share is a community of believers who are committed to supporting one another. This can be a valuable resource for missionaries living and working in remote areas. 



Medi-Share is a faith-based program committed to sharing Christ's love with others. This can be a source of strength and encouragement for missionaries. 



In addition to care for health concerns, you can also think of Medi-Share as a substitute for major medical insurance and travel medical insurance. It’s perfect for both short outreach trips and career missionaries. Medi-Share helps you stay on top of your medical care, no matter where your mission takes you.  


Unexpected Return Home 

 In an emergency situation, when out of the United Stated, with Medi-Share you would still receive the emergency care you need. Members can submit international bills for reimbursement: once you meet your Annual Household Portion (AHP, or out-of-pocket amount your household will pay for health care in a year), the rest of your eligible expenses would be processed for sharing. Medi-Share also has an “Extra Blessings” fund that members contribute to which is used for other members’ unexpected medical costs that are ineligible for sharing.  


Transparent Pricing & No Annual Caps or Lifetime Limits  

 Medi-Share is all about transparency when it comes to pricing.  


First, you pick the AHP that fits your situation and budget. After that’s met for the year, the community the remaining eligible expenses. And there are no annual caps or lifetime limits on health care expenses after your first month as a member. 


Because Medi-Share works no matter what country you’re in at the time, it offers a sense of security that's essential for both long and short-term mission trips. 


Telehealth for Health Care on the Go 

 With Medi-Share, you have 24/7 access to Telehealth services at no additional cost. Wherever your mission takes you, health care advice is just a call or click away (as long as you have service). This feature, coupled with TeleBehavioral Health, lets you take your physical and mental health care with you wherever you go. All you need is an address in the United States and a US phone number.  


Maternity Care Supports Growing Families 

 Medi-Share includes maternity care for those planning a family during their missionary journey. As long as the expectant mother has contributed her monthly share throughout the pregnancy (and the baby was conceived in marriage), she can receive the support and medical care she needs, no matter where she is. 



Medi-Share is Not Insurance, It’s Better! 


Medi-Share is a sharing model deeply rooted in Christian values. This unique approach extends beyond financial assistance for medical care, fostering a faith-based community.  


This program is tailored for all types of missionaries, whether you are engaged in long-term missions abroad or short-term projects in the USA. By joining Medi-Share, you become part of a compassionate network committed to sharing and caring, embodying the spirit of Christian fellowship. 


Explore our Medi-Share Global page to learn more about how our programs can help you feel confident and secure on your next mission trip. 


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Want to Learn More? 

Head over to our Medi-Share Global page to get more information.  If you’d like to talk to someone, We have a talented team available to help support you and answer any questions you may have.




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