Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Samaritan Ministries: insurance alternative for Christians

With the next health insurance open enrollment starting on November 1st, many people will be looking into getting insurance or switching plans. With ObamaCare changing how health insurance works, it's becoming increasingly difficult to find plans that actually work, are usable, and don't cost an arm and a leg. For Christians, there's the added question of supporting companies that pay for abortions and other immoral and unbiblical practices.

I'd like to present another option for you...


... get out of traditional health insurance altogether!

Before you think I'm nuts, let me introduce you to Samaritan Ministries.

My wife and I have been members of Samaritan Ministries since December of 2012. Samaritan Ministries is a not-for-profit religious organization classified as a health-care sharing ministry, and is not traditional "health insurance".

Samaritan Ministries and similar organizations are an innovative free-market non-insurance solution to today's healthcare needs. They satisfy the 'ObamaCare'/Affordable Care Act's requirement to purchase health insurance or pay a tax-penalty. Unlike health insurance, you can sign up at any time, not just during an enrollment period.



Samaritan Ministries is Biblical

Galatians 6:2 says "Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ." It is out of this principle that health-care sharing ministries like Samaritan operate. Applying this principle to health-care expenses results in the Body of Christ operating as it did in the days of the Early Church -- encouraging fellow believers in difficult situations through prayer and sharing the load.

Samaritan Ministries operates on Biblically-based foundational principles:
1. Jesus Christ is the only adequate Provider for every need we have
2. A medical need (or any other need) involves more than money
3. Believers in Jesus Christ are responsible to first use the resources He has given us to meet the needs of ourselves and our families
4. The local church should be the next “line of defense” to provide for the needs of its own members
5. God created man as His image bearer and the crown of His creation.

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

In the monthly mailing sent to members, Samaritan Ministries includes a daily prayer guide for the month listing different prayer requests and medical needs that members have. Prayer is important to Samaritan Ministries - one of their mottoes is "Send a note, Pay your share, Always stay alert in prayer."

Samaritan Ministries is Affordable

Cost is a big factor in dealing with healthcare and insurance. Samaritan Ministries is very affordable and simple to understand. There are four basic monthly levels, with discounts when one or both heads of household are under 26:

  • Single: $180 ($140 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $220 / $180 
  • Couple: $360 ($280 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $440 / $360
  • Parents with kids (3+ person family): $405 ($355 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $495 / $445
  • Widowed or divorced with children: $250 ($200 under 26) 8/2016 figure: $305 / $255

11 months out of the year, you send your monthly "Share" directly to a fellow member with a medical "Need". Once a year, your monthly Share is sent to the Samaritan Ministries office for administrative costs - the only time money is not directly sent to a fellow member.

The amounts are only changed by a super-majority vote of the membership.

Samaritan Ministries is Usable

For medical "Needs" that meet the Guidelines, you are responsible for the first $300. Any amount after that is shared with other Samaritan members. If you receive any discounts on your medical bills, that discount is taken out of your personal responsibility amount, so it's very easy to essentially cancel out that $300. Samaritan Ministries partners with The Karis Group to negotiate reductions on large bills. More on that in a bit.

After your first three medical needs submitted in a year, the $300 personal responsibility sum is waived for successive needs that year. Theoretically, whether you have three medical needs in a year (that meet the Guidelines) or ten, it's just $900 that won't be shared.

Here's a personal example. In June, I had an emergency appendectomy. Total cost for my procedure and hospital stay was in the ballpark of $33,000. I explained to the hospital that I was a self-pay patient (briefly went through how Samaritan Ministries works), and received a 20% discount. Samaritan hooked me up with The Karis Group, and they were able to negotiate a 35% discount instead of my initial 20% reduction. On some of the other bills, I was able to get between 20% and 40% marked off by being self-pay. All told, my original cost of around $33,000 was reduced to around $22,000, and every penny was shared by Samaritan members across the country.

Cards and checks received from about 55 Samaritan Ministries families across the country
My wife's [uneventful] pregnancy and [very eventful, emergency c-section] delivery in July cost an initial $15,000. After self-pay reductions of around 40%, the final total was around $11,500 -- and again, every penny is being shared by Samaritan Ministries families across the country.

Another plus to Samaritan Ministries is that you're not restricted to certain physicians and medical providers -- you can go wherever you want! Remember "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor"? That's actually true with health-care sharing ministries.

Currently, over 49,000 families (nearly 160,000 individuals) participate in Samaritan Ministries. In September 2015, there were 4,407 medical needs being shared with a grand total of $13,915,033 (approximately $3,157 per need). So far this year, about $100,000,000.00 worth of medical needs has been shared by Samaritan members.

To read more on how the need submitting process works, see my post from March, when we submitted our first medical need - Samaritan Ministries works: our experience. For some more in-depth details, see my page devoted to this topic: Samaritan Ministries -- Health-Care Sharing.

More Information 

Currently, there are nearly 50,000 families participating in Samaritan Ministries. For more information about why they do, visit 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 about our experience. You can call me anytime at (918) 869-6000, or email me at JamisonFaught@MuskogeePolitico.com. If the information I've given you is helpful, and you decide to join Samaritan Ministries, I'd greatly appreciate it if you would put me down as your referral when you fill out your Application Form (Samaritan Ministries gives members a referral credit).

I hope that our experience has been helpful and given you useful information about health-care sharing ministries, and Samaritan Ministries in particular.

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