Medi-Share, a faith-based healthcare-sharing program operating under the umbrella of Christian Care Ministry, is expanding its branch office in Colorado Springs. The Melbourne, Fla.-based organization has more than 10,000 members in Colorado and plans to fill more than 100 jobs within the first year of its opening, according to a news release.

Medi-Share is a member-based program in which Christians share financial resources to pay one another’s medical expenses. A special provision in the Affordable Care Act allows members of healthcare-sharing organizations to comply with the mandate, exempting them from purchasing insurance or paying a penalty. According to the release, Medi-Share has grown from approximately 35,000 members to more than 209,000 members since 2010 and California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia and Texas have the most members.

According to Michael Gardner, director of communications for Christian Care Ministry, the local branch opened in a temporary space in August.

“We are currently leasing a temporary space at the Focus on the Family campus [8675 Explorer Drive]. We are in the process of renovating a permanent space at this location,” Gardner said, adding the breakdown of positions will include call center, customer service and administrative.

“The majority of positions will be for the call center,” he said.

“Christian Care Ministry offers a creative solution to address today’s challenging health care environment. Medi-Share is a popular program and is rapidly growing for a good reason,” said Dirk Draper, president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance, in the news release. “We welcome Christian Care Ministry’s expansion to Colorado Springs.”

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The program’s members pay an Annual Household Portion, essentially a deductible, which goes toward eligible medical bills during a 12-month period before eligible bills “will be published for sharing.”

According to Medi-Share’s website, more than $1.4 billion dollars in medical bills have been shared and discounted.

For those who lead a “a healthy lifestyle,” there is an incentive of up to a 20-percent savings on a members’ monthly share.

The program, while praised by many as an affordable option in an age of rising health care costs, is not without controversy.

Members must provide a statement of faith and agree to “live by biblical standards,” which include rules regarding tobacco and alcohol use, as well as the use of illegal drugs and sexual behavior.

“Members highly value the biblical principle that our physical bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit and should be kept pure,” the website states. “Members should strive to maintain healthy lifestyles, as this glorifies God and keeps medical costs down.”

Also, in 2012, a Kentucky judge put a stop to Medi-Share in his state following a Department of Insurance lawsuit.

“The agency took the case to court because of concerns that some Christians might mistakenly believe they’re paying into an insurance plan that guarantees coverage if they’re hospitalized. Medi-Share offers no such guarantee,” according to an article that appeared in “Insurance Journal,” published that year.

Consumer Reports, in an article published in 2011, said health care-sharing programs “do not provide the same degree of legal and financial protection as real insurance.” It goes on to state that “these programs look and act like insurance — but with none of the legally prescribed safeguards against rip-offs and nasty surprises when medical bills reach catastrophic proportions. The ministry programs incorporate key elements of health insurance, including deductibles, annual or per-incident dollar limits on coverage and exclusions for things like mental health care, prescriptions and pre-existing conditions, the article states.

For more information about Medi-Share employment opportunities in Colorado Springs, visit MediShareJobs.com.