Thursday, September 26, 2013

Samaritan Ministries: an alternative to ObamaCare



As healthcare costs continue to skyrocket, many families are struggling with the high price of health insurance. With the onset of ObamaCare, other issues with health insurance have come to the forefront as well, such as religious organizations being forced to cover birth control in their insurance plans. Is there another alternative to the health insurance industry? Is there another option that fits your family's moral values, and doesn't support abortion?

My wife and I joined Samaritan Ministries at the end of 2012. Samaritan Ministries is a not-for-profit religious organization classified as a health-care sharing ministry, and is not considered to be traditional "health insurance". HCSMs are exempt from the individual mandate in ObamaCare.

Who Can Join?

To be a member of Samaritan Ministries, you must be a professing Christian, agree to the Samaritan Ministries Statement of Faith, be a regular member of a church, agree to certain moral standards dealing with alcohol, tobacco, sexual activity, and have your pastor or church leader sign a testimonial form. You can view the Application Form here, and the Guidelines here.

How It Works

Members of Samaritan Ministries commit to sending a set "Share" each month (equivalent to an insurance premium) directly to fellow members with "Needs". Monthly "Shares" are not run through a central administration office, where funds could be diverted to office costs.

From SM, here’s how the Need Process works in a little more detail:
Samaritan Ministries publishes a monthly newsletter mailing that reports the total Shares and Needs and includes an individualized Share Notice for each member household. The Share Notice tells each household how to pray for a specific member with a Need and what his address is, so the Share can be sent to him. Typically less than 10 percent of the members have a Need in a given month and are receiving Shares.

When a member has a health care “Need” he receives health care treatment from a provider of his choice, collects the bills, and sends them to Samaritan Ministries. Samaritan Ministries verifies that the Need meets the Guidelines. Then, in the monthly newsletter mailing, Samaritan Ministries directs some members to send their Shares to the member with the Need. The member with the need receives the shares to pay his health care bills.
When a member has a medical need, the first $300 of the bill is the member's responsibility (similar to an insurance deductible). After the first $300, any other expense on up to $250,000 can be shared (click here for the Guidelines). Members can join SM's Save To Share program for an additional $15 a month to cover expenses over $250,000.

Members cover the first $300 on three Needs per year; if they have any additional Needs, the entire amount is shared. Members are encouraged to negotiate for bill reductions; any bill reduction is applied to their $300 responsibility amount, making it possible to entirely eliminate that amount.

What Does It Cost?

Members of Samaritan Ministries agree to share the following amounts, based on household size:
  • Singles - $165
  • Couples - $315
  • Single-Parent Family - $230
  • Two-Parent Family - $370

When one or both of the heads of household are under 26 years old, there is a discount:
  • Singles - $125 ($40 discount)
  • Couples - $235 ($80 discount)
  • Single-Parent Family - $180 ($50 discount)
  • Two-Parent Family - $320 ($50 discount)

Any changes to Share amounts is subject to a vote of the entire membership, and has to have 60% in order to pass.

More Information

For more information, visit Samaritan Ministries website at SamaritanMinistries.org. You can view videos, testimonials, Frequently Asked Questions, the Guidelines, the Application Form, and much more.

If you are interested in joining, I'd be more than happy to talk with you. You can call me at (918) 869-6000, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com. When a member refers someone who then becomes a member, Samaritan Ministries gives the referring member a $180 credit. Obviously, that's some incentive, but regardless of that, Samaritan Ministries is a great organization.

No comments: