2016 health insurance open enrollment is currently about halfway through, with a deadline of January 31st, 2016. The ObamaCare tax/penalty for not having health insurance is substantially higher for 2016 than it was in previous years: 2.5% of household income, or $695 per adult - whichever is higher.
Costs for health insurance have skyrocketed, and competition has plummeted; in fact, premiums in Oklahoma are set to jump 35%, with only two companies offering plans here. Some states have only one insurance company available.
I've blogged previously about my wife and I being members of Samaritan Ministries, a healthcare-sharing ministry. We opted out of traditional health insurance three years ago, and joined this wonderful organization.
Here are a few distinctives about Samaritan Ministries:
- No narrow enrollment period
Unlike traditional insurance, you can sign up with Samaritan Ministries at any time of the year.
- Stable, affordable cost
The monthly cost ranges from $180 for a single person under 26, to $495 for a 3+ person family. Monthly share rates increase only by a two-thirds vote of the membership, so the cost is much more stable than health insurance.
Health insurance deductibles can easily be $5,000 or more, in addition to other out-of-pocket costs. Health-care sharing ministries like Samaritan Ministries have a few things that aren't eligible to share (see their guidelines), but generally speaking the amount you are personally responsible for is $300 - but even that can be eliminated if you receive discounts on your medical bills.
Personal example: in 2015, between my wife's pregnancy/childbirth and my emergency appendectomy, we had about $50,000 in medical bills. After getting self-pay discounts of nearly $15,000, the remainder (about $35,000) was shared to the penny by fellow Samaritan Ministries members. We weren't out anything - no $5,000 deductible, nothing.
Samaritan Ministries applies Biblical principles in every aspect of the ministry. From membership qualifications and lifestyles, to ministry accountability, to what health needs are eligible to share (i.e. no paying for abortions, etc).
- Personal touch
Samaritan Ministries has a very personal touch. Those cards in the picture above? That represents about 55 families across the country who paid my medical bills when I had an emergency appendectomy. Members send their monthly shares directly to members with medical needs, and are encouraged to send cards or notes and to pray for the member in need. When did your insurance company ever do that?!
- Exempt from penalty/tax
Although not considered "insurance", Samaritan Ministries (and a few other health-care sharing ministries) meets ObamaCare's requirement to have insurance or pay a penalty/tax. HCSMs were specifically exempted in the Affordable Care Act.
- Physician flexibility
Rather than being tied into specific networks,Samaritan Ministries members have the flexibility to go to whichever physicians and facilities they desire. As a self-pay patient, you enable the doctor's office to cut out paperwork and insurance hassles, and generally are able to receive significant discounts.
In our three years as members of Samaritan Ministries, we have submitted two medical needs. Read about our first one here, and see how needs are submitted. Read about our second one here, and find out about bill reductions and self-pay discounts. You can also read other posts I've done about Samaritan Ministries here and here.
Currently, there are over 50,000 families (more than 165,000 individuals) 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. 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 credit.