This post is a bit different than what I typically share here at True and Faithful.
Today I’m sharing our experience with Samaritan Ministries, in hopes it will answer your need as much as it’s answered ours.
Several years after Dan died, the cost of health insurance as a single mom of many was eating my lunch. About that time, a dear friend told me about Samaritan Ministries, a Christian health care sharing ministry.
I was intrigued but unsure. The lawyer in me had some questions. But after lots of research, I dropped our not-so-affordable health insurance and joined Samaritan Ministries.
I was thinking our first shareable need might be something small like strep throat or a broken finger.
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But, no. Three days into this year, my college son came home with searing back pain. An MRI revealed a lemon-sized tumor on his lower spine and we spent that weekend trying to manage his pain while waiting to see the neurosurgeon.
Seth’s tumor was benign and he’s doing marvelously, though we were now facing the steep medical expenses of neurosurgery, a hospital stay, multiple doctors, two emergency room visits and six weeks of proton radiation.
This kind of thing makes me go weak in the knees, begging God for healing, wisdom, guidance and provision. God has answered powerfully and part of that answer has been Samaritan Ministries.
How Samaritan Ministries Works
Samaritan Ministries in not health insurance. It’s a health care sharing program where believers commit to assist other members with health care needs as part of the body of Christ. It’s a commitment to both give and receive financial and spiritual support, but it’s not contractual.
I send my monthly share directly to another member who has a medical “need.” Each month, Samaritan takes the total needs submitted and divides that among the members’ monthly shares.
Then all across the country and internationally, believers begin praying for each other’s needs and sending notes along with checks to cover the needs. It is the body of Christ practically and prayerfully bearing each other’s burdens.
And this made me weep: my monthly cost as a single mom is lower because Samaritan Ministries takes seriously scripture’s call to care for the widow. Even if it weren’t lower, it would still be one-third the cost of my previous health insurance premium. It’s been one of the biggest factor’s in being able to work from home and stay at home with my kids as as widow and single mom.
Our experience with Samaritan Ministries
Will this really work? Those were my thoughts as I faced the steep medical costs from emergency neurosurgery and all the treatment afterward.
To be honest, no parent wants to have to sweat medical charges as they’re rushing your child into the ER.
But it’s one of the fears that comes with unexpected injuries and diagnoses.
My experience is that health care sharing not only works, it blesses as it works.
From my first nervous phone call to report Seth’s ER visit and all through the process, Samaritan has been kind and calm. They have graciously answered my questions, checked on how Seth was doing and prayed for us before ending each call.
When I called to report that Seth would need six weeks of proton therapy, they didn’t blink. They discussed options with us and helped negotiate the largest bills for us.
And for the last two months, our mailbox has filled with notes and cards from believers across the country, praying for Seth and sharing our need. Can you imagine the encouragement that comes at the end of a day opening a dozen handwritten notes and prayers enclosing checks for your medical expenses? It’s an incredible picture of the body of Christ so often missed in our culture.
A Few Other Important Notes
1.Membership in Samaritan’s Ministries satisfies the (non)Affordable Care Act’s requirement to carry insurance or pay a penalty.
2. You can join anytime since it’s not insurance. There are different levels, including one for what I’d call catastrophic need. I joined this in addition to the basic plan and it kicked in for the large medical bills.
3. Samaritan has operated for more than 20 years and last month alone, over 75,000 households covered more than $24 million in medical needs.
4. Not all medical expenses are shareable. Well-care isn’t shareable and must be paid out of pocket. It’s something I try to budget for. Also, importantly, pre-existing conditions may not be shareable depending on how long ago the condition was treated. You’ll need to get specifics if have any kind of pre-existing condition.
Costs that aren’t shareable — large dental expenses or those from pre-existing conditions — can be submitted as special prayer needs where members choose to give above the monthly share to help meet non-shareable burdens.
5. Some providers need you to educate them about health care sharing. Although it’s becoming more well-known and received, I often had to explain we were members of a health sharing program and were therefore a self-pay patient. Offices generally don’t bat an eyelash at self-pay and will usually give a sizeable discount. We paid $300 for one MRI and $150 for an office visit and everything else was billed. While one office stated they didn’t take self-pay patients (what??), even that worked to our favor because we found an excellent physician on the Samaritan Ministries site only a few miles from us.
If this is something that might help you as it has us, you can find more information here.
While this isn’t an affiliate link, if you ever join and use my name, I get a small one-time credit. But I’d share about this ministry regardless.
Because where I used to autopay a hefty insurance premium to a corporation (don’t get me started on the problems I had!), I now get to send financial and spiritual support straight to another believer in need. I look forward to my Samaritan packet every month.
And we’ve seen God use it mightily to meet our own needs.