Why We Chose Samaritan Ministries Over Health Insurance

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Wellness Mama » Blog » Health » Why We Chose Samaritan Ministries Over Health Insurance

This could be a really short post since the answer is: because Samaritan Ministries health care sharing works so much better for our family and we save so much money (especially because we use natural remedies and don’t run to the doctor for minor stuff). For our family, the combination of this and concierge medicine has made a huge difference for our finances and the quality of care we receive.

I mentioned this in a recent podcast episode and was bombarded with questions, so I’m sharing our experience here.

If you’re reading this, I’m guessing you may be trying to decide if a health care sharing ministry like Samaritan could be a good fit for you or your family, and you may have a few more specific questions. I’ll try to answer all of the questions I had when researching health care sharing options in the rest of this post. If I miss something, let me know in the comments below so I can add it!

If you do decide to try out Samaritan Ministries, please let them know that Wellness Mama sent you!

What Is Health Care Sharing?

A health care sharing ministry is a system that allows members to help each other directly when there is a medical need. Instead of paying premiums to an insurance company each month, members send money to each other based on their need. There are several well-established health care sharing ministry options and all are permissible under the Affordable Care Act.

In this post, I’ll be specifically talking about Samaritan Ministries, because that is the program our family uses and I do not have any direct experience with others. We chose Samaritan for the simple pricing structure, ability to choose our own providers, and inclusion of natural and alternative treatments when approved.

To be clear: health care sharing is NOT insurance and doesn’t work the same way as a “traditional” insurance provider. In my opinion, they are much better, but they are different and it is important to understand the differences before deciding to switch.

I did months and months of research before making a decision. These were the factors that I weighed in my decision.

Benefits of Health Care Sharing

Having now been a member of Samaritan Ministries for over 5 years, it is easy to see all of the benefits we’ve received as members.

Lower Cost Than Private Insurance

My husband and I are both self-employed. This means we get to work 80 hours a week for the toughest bosses in the world (us) instead of commuting to a job…

All jokes aside, we’re so grateful to be entrepreneurs and to do fulfilling work that we love and that we feel makes a positive difference in the world.

But the insurance system isn’t really designed for “weird” cases like us (even though many families are pursuing entrepreneurial options these days). When we first started our business, we used the most affordable private insurance option we could find. It still cost well over $1,000 per month for our family and had a super high deductible ($5,000 individual/10,000 family).

On top of that, we still had to pay 20% after we met the deductible. Plus, we were stuck in networks and often couldn’t work with providers we liked.

Not a lot of pluses there.

I’ll explain more on the specifics below, but now with Samaritan Ministries our cost is about $500/mo for our whole family. We pay this money directly to other members in need each month. In turn, when we have a medical need, other members send their “share” to us.

We Choose Providers

The “network” aspect of many insurance programs always frustrated me. When my first child was born, I couldn’t work with any of the doctors or midwives I really liked because they weren’t in our approved network. We had to go to certain doctors and hospitals and it was often really confusing to figure out which one, or incredibly expensive to go out of network.

In contrast, with a health care sharing ministry like Samaritan, we get to choose the providers and the places we go when we have a medical need. (There are some differences with other health care sharing groups so make sure to read the fine print carefully for any program you are considering.)

Since I know many amazing doctors and practitioners that are out of state, we also have the freedom to work with specialists who can truly address a problem rather than be stuck in a network.

I Can Use Alternative Methods (With Approval)

Our family chooses to be very proactive in preventative care and natural remedies. This means that we don’t run to the doctor for every illness, bump, bruise, or sniffle (though we certainly do for anything big or life-threatening, of course!).

We don’t visit a doctor or hospital often, and many times choose to work with doctors who use alternative methods. With insurance, these options would almost never be covered and we’d be coming out of pocket for all of the cost.

With Samaritan, as long as the treatments are suggested by a doctor and receive approval, we are able to use them.

I Can Choose Homebirth and Midwives

My first four babies were born in hospitals. My last two were born at home and while I would not trade any of my birth experiences, there is no comparison between the ease of my labors, my recovery, and how happy my babies were when I gave birth at home. It isn’t the right option for every mom, but it was for me.

Insurance rarely covers midwives or home births. For this reason, this option wasn’t on the table financially for us with our first few children. Surprisingly, the cost of births has been drastically different (and better) with health care sharing vs insurance. Here’s what I mean:

  • First and second births: Born in hospital. Paid $825/mo for insurance with maternity rider through work at the time. Also paid $3,000 deductible and 20% of remaining cost. Total cost was just over $6,000, not including the cost of the monthly premiums. The second birth was about $500 less than my first, but only because I didn’t show up to the hospital until almost pushing so there was less to bill for, no IV fluids, etc.
  • Third birth: Total cost was about $15,000 because of an emergency c-section.
  • Fourth birth: Switched to Samaritan Ministries before this birth. Had the baby in a hospital with midwives because I got to pick my provider. Had a successful and wonderful v-bac. Negotiated “self-pay” discount and pre-paid using the money we saved. Submitted to Samaritan and the need was shared (more on how that works below). The total cost of birth was $0.
  • Fifth and sixth births: Still with Samaritan. Chose homebirth midwives who offered pre-pay discounts. Submitted to Samaritan and received money from other member shares and paid midwives before the birth. Due to v-bac/home birth option, we paid $0 out of pocket by the end.

We Actually Help Someone Each Month

This is perhaps my favorite part. Sure, I love saving money and getting to pick providers, but our family also really loves feeling like we are directly helping someone each month. With Samaritan, each month we receive the name and address of a person with a medical need. We send our share for the month directly to that person, usually along with some hand-drawn cards from the kids.

When we’ve submitted needs (bills) in the past, it was incredible to see this from the other side. Each time we had a baby, we got shares in the mail from other members along with cards and notes of congratulations for the new addition. When my husband’s appendix ruptured, we got shares and dozens of get-well cards (read that story below).

I don’t have personal experience with other programs, but from my understanding, only with Samaritan do members send payments directly to each other every month. With the others, the money goes to the organization and is redistributed. All of them technically meet the guidelines for the Affordable Care Act, but Samaritan seemed the most airtight to me since no money goes directly to the ministry. Do your own research on this for sure though!

Our Friends Loved It Already

In our own decision making, it was helpful that we had friends who already used service and loved it. (I’d also heard from friends who had tried the other three big health care sharing ministries and had bad experiences.) This is also why I’m sharing our experience and decision. Health care sharing has been such an amazing option for us, but I wouldn’t have considered it without hearing from trusted sources how it had worked for them.

This isn’t to say anything negative about other options other than what my friends have said, and again I don’t have any personal experience with them. I just know that for us, Samaritan has been a great option and we’ve never had any problems.

On the other hand, we also don’t run to the doctor unless it’s a true emergency and we work hard to stay healthy, which probably factors into our overall experience.

Downsides of Health Care Sharing Ministries

As I said, I absolutely believe this option is the best for our family, but there are some important caveats to understand that could be a downside for some families. With any ministry or program, please make sure to read all of the fine print, call and ask questions, and make sure you really understand it before switching. The full Samaritan Ministries guidelines are available here.

Pre-existing Conditions

There are some rules on pre-existing conditions and if/how they can be shared. Make sure to read the guidelines to understand especially if you have a specific condition. In many cases, a pre-existing condition cannot be shared. There are exceptions though after certain amounts of time and after meeting certain conditions.

There are also some rules and exceptions relating to certain fertility treatments and other conditions…. so read the rules. Health care sharing may not be the best option for a person or family with pre-existing conditions, especially serious ones.

Technically “Self-Pay”

Healthcare sharing ministries are not insurance and are not considered to be by the medical community. I actually view this as a benefit, not a downside, but there are some important things to know. Since a doctor or hospital will view health care sharing members as “self-pay” it is sometimes possible to negotiate a discount. Often, these discounts are bigger if a person can pay the day the service is provided. This saves the provider/hospital a lot of money and hassle of filing with insurance so they benefit as well.

Our family keeps a separate checking account (and a credit card) for times when we have a medical need. Then, we negotiate a self-pay discount if we can, and often an additional discount for paying immediately. We submit the need and copies of the bills to Samaritan Ministries and members reimburse us.

For us, this feels like a benefit, but it does require a lot of saving up and planning ahead.

Maximum Payout

With Samaritan Ministries, the maximum payout is $250,000 for a single event (or more if you also enroll in Save to Share, which we do). There’s a lot of other details related to this and some health care sharing programs do cover unlimited amounts but also cost more. Definitely do your research here.

Illegal Vehicle Operation

This hopefully never an issue for anyone, but any accidents that occur under the influence of alcohol or drugs are not shareable. Nor are any conditions relating to alcohol or drug use/abuse. Motorcycle accidents are shareable as long as the motorcycle was being operated in a legal manner.

Only Available to Christians

The four big health care sharing ministries are Christian by nature and only available to practicing Christians. To join, a person or family must sign a statement of faith to verify they agree with certain principles. This is part of keeping the cost low and also means that certain things that conflict with traditional Christian values or guidelines are not covered.

There are new organizations, like Knew Health, that are creating health care sharing platforms that are not faith dependent and that focus more on the health side though.

Not Usually Offered by Employers

Another potential downside is that many employers provide insurance but don’t give health care sharing as an option. That said, I have heard of cases where people were able to negotiate for their company to increase their salary to cover a health care sharing membership because it was cheaper for the company, but there is no guarantee of this.

For anyone whose employer already provides amazing insurance, Samaritan or other health care sharing may not be the best fit because it does require coming out of pocket. For entrepreneurs, musicians, or those who have to purchase insurance privately, it can be a great option though.

What Is the Cost of a Health Care Sharing Ministry?

This is a slightly more complicated question then you’d think. The “share” (monthly amount) is easy to determine and it varies based on the company and network. Samaritan Ministries is, at most, $495/month currently, no matter how big the family size.

But the “cost” comparison goes far beyond just the monthly price. Compared to our insurance plan (over $1,000/mo), Samaritan is a tremendous savings (over 50%). But the savings extend beyond the monthly financial commitment.

Insurance often has deductibles that are also required. Samaritan Ministries members pay the first $300 of any medical need they submit and any needs under $300 can’t be submitted. But, and this is important, this $300 is waived if a member is able to negotiate that amount or more in discounts.

As an example, the midwife for one of my births charged around $5,000 but offered a $500 discount for paying early. Since I was able to take advantage of this and it was over $300, I was reimbursed for the all costs.

Again, this is different for each organization so read the guidelines carefully.

How Does Samaritan Ministries Work?

This was the most difficult part to understand when I first began researching health insurance alternatives. It seemed so risky to walk away from our insurance, especially with all of the rules about enrollment and time with a company. It was scary to think about starting from scratch if the health care sharing model didn’t work for us. And as I said, this isn’t insurance so in times where the amount of need exceeds the amount of the shares, some expense may remain.

I spent dozens of hours reading and asking questions, and to be honest, I didn’t completely understand how it all worked until we submitted a need. I’ll share our specifics below, as I finally understand how the system works.

Still confused about terms like “share,” “need,” and “publishable amount?” Hang tight, as I’ll explain the terms as we go.

Step 1: Signing Up

Unlike insurance, there is no open enrollment period and the requirements look a lot different. For Samaritan, for instance, they are more concerned with your values than your weight or medical history (though they do ask about medical history to understand pre-existing conditions). With Samaritan, you sign a form at sign up and once a year after sign up certifying that you agree with core aspects of the Christian faith. If you aren’t Christian, options like Knew Health are now available too.

The application process is easy and you can even do it online now. Please let them know Wellness Mama sent you!

Samaritan now has over 250,000 members/families and shares over $27 million a month in medical needs.

Step 2: Monthly & Yearly Member Obligations

As a member, each month, you receive a notice of who to send your “share” to. The share is the monthly amount you send. For instance for our family, we pay $495/mo. Singles pay $220 and there are now even less expensive options where the individual is responsible for more of the costs.

Each month the share goes directly to a family or person who needs it, via mail or online. Our kids like making cards to send along with the share.

Step 3: If You Have a “Need”

A “need” or “medical need” is a medical event that you can share with Samaritan Ministries so that members can send shares to you to help pay the need. In order to be shared, a need must be a qualified need, meaning it meets the guidelines. (Seriously, spend the time and read these guidelines if you’re considering switching).

To submit a need, a member collects all the itemized bills from the event (doctor, hospital specialists, and so on). The member submits these bills to Samaritan Ministries. When received, the Samaritan team reviews the bills to make sure the need meets the guidelines.

If it does, the need is considered shareable. The next month, other members are assigned to send their share to the member who submitted the bills. Once received, the member uses these payments to help pay the bills (or to reimburse himself/herself if bills were already paid to get a discount).

An Example From My Family

In 2012, two years after we joined Samaritan Ministries, my husband said he was a little nauseated. Later in the day, he didn’t feel like eating and said his stomach was hurting. Thinking it was a bug, we treated it like such and he rested, hydrated, and didn’t eat much.

The next morning, he wasn’t feeling better and as soon as he said his stomach hurt a lot more on the right side and began throwing up, I shoved him in a car and took him to the ER. By the time we got to the hospital and they confirmed it was his appendix, it had already partially ruptured. After a little longer than expected surgery, everything seemed fine and we went home a couple days later.

Except he started feeling worse and not better.

At his 3-day post-op appointment, his fever was up and he wasn’t looking good. Another trip back to the ER revealed a nasty secondary infection including C-diff. After another week in the hospital and all the antibiotics, he was finally on the mend. (And yes, we did all the Probiotics, and eventually had to treat for SIBO too).

The Bill…

Spending over a week in the hospital with him, I researched what I needed to do for Samaritan to submit the need. I also asked the hospital if they offered any kind of self-pay or cash discount. They offered both, which was good since the original bill was over $132,000!

With the 79% (yes, for real) self-pay discount, another 20% discount for paying before checking out and a couple other discounts, we got the bill down to about $12,000.

(Side note: This is why I personally also recommend having a savings account or emergency fund available for things like this to take advantage of maximum discounts.)

Submitting the Need

We submitted the stack of itemized bills showing the discounts to Samaritan Ministries. Since we’d negotiated (a lot) more than $300 in discounts, the entire amount was eligible to be shared. There were enough shares available to meet the entire amount of needs that month.

Over the next month, we received checks from members to help us pay for the bills and we replenished our emergency savings. We ended up with a fully healthy dad/hubby and not having to pay out of pocket at all for the bills.

The craziest part about this story is that the hospital had marked up the cost of my husband’s care by $120,000, assuming that traditional insurance would cover it, which is why it’s so expensive and such a broken system!

Other Important Things to Know

I tried to cover everything above, but here are a few important points and questions to consider when thinking about switching.

Well Child Visits and Physicals

Well child visits and physicals are not a shareable need with many health care sharing ministries. For Samaritan, these are usually under $300 and wouldn’t be shareable anyway. We plan for these each year, and use a local clinic that is inexpensive for physicals if needed.

We also use a concierge medicine option called SteadyMD in conjunction with health care sharing. This allows us to have video, phone, and text access to our primary care doc (who gets functional and alternative medicine) at any time without having to go into the doctor. This only costs a couple hundred dollars a month and with the combination, I feel like we are truly getting the best medical care possible and saving money.

Vision and Dental

Also not a shareable need by Samaritan Ministries (or most sharing organizations). Again, these are something we budget for and we find that providers often offer family plans or discount plans. Since researching oral health is somewhat of a hobby of mine and I have very specific dentists I’ll go to, this has worked best for us anyway.

Preventative Care and Wellness

Most preventative care and wellness-oriented things are not shareable in a health care sharing organization. This means you can’t submit a colonoscopy, the cost of vitamins, or a cleanse as shareable expenses. With the exception of things like colonoscopy, many of these things are also not covered by most traditional insurance either.

Our family makes healthy food and natural remedies a priority (and we would whether we had traditional insurance or health care sharing).

Labs and Blood Work

These are covered if related to a specific medical event (like my husband’s appendix). Preventative labs are not covered. However, Samaritan partners with discounted labs and a prescription discount program as well if needed.

For us, this is not a big issue because I use things like EverlyWell or local labs ordered by my SteadyMD doc when needed. Our local hospital offers 80% self-pay discount at their lab and a local place also has really inexpensive labs.

Taxes and ACA

Samaritan and other health care sharing organizations are permissible alternatives to insurance under the Affordable Care Act. As Samaritan’s website explains:

This approach satisfies the federal health care law’s (Affordable Care Act, U.S. Public Law 111-148) requirement that you have insurance or pay a penalty-tax (see 26 United States Code Section 5000A, (d), (2), (B)). Members of health care sharing ministries demonstrate their exemption by using IRS Form 8965 when filing their tax return. If you are not required to file a tax return, you do not need to do anything to prove your exemption.

Final Summary

This has absolutely been the best option for our family but it isn’t for everyone. Health care sharing is not insurance and needs are not guaranteed to be shared. It does require more effort and I highly recommend saving some money for unexpected needs until they can be shared.

As entrepreneurs, this is the least expensive option available. We find it comparable to insurance for catastrophic coverage and we’ve come out of pocket less since switching. There is a lot to know and understand, so do please feel free to ask questions below.

Our family chose Samaritan Ministries and we’ve had only positive experiences. There are other options, both faith-based and not, but I don’t have any direct experience to be able to share.

If you do decide to check out Samaritan, please consider letting them know that Wellness Mama sent you. As I said, none of the links to Samaritan are promotional or affiliate links, but our family qualifies for a small reduction in our monthly share if you decide to join.

Are you a member of a health care sharing network? What has your experience been? If you’re not, would you consider joining?

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

36 responses to “Why We Chose Samaritan Ministries Over Health Insurance”

  1. CIndy Avatar

    It would have been nice if you had shared that it was only open to people of a certain religion early on in the post, so I didn’t have to waste time reading something that excludes me. The don’t cover birth control, mental health treatment, addiction treatment, vaccinations… Something that starting out looking so good and so applicable to my lifestyle quickly became something that doesn’t include a large portion of the population. Totally fine, but it would have been good to be up front about that.

  2. Jillian Nelson Avatar
    Jillian Nelson

    We are avid motorcycle riders, that’s why we chose Samaritan. They DO cover motorcycle accidents per some requirements. See the Guidelines PDF that you attached:
    Shareable with Requirements. Needs from injuries in an accident where the member is an operator or passenger (in, on, or being pulled by the vehicle) of on-road or off-road motor vehicles such as snowmobiles, go-karts, off-road motorcycles, four-wheel ATVs, tractors, farm implements, construction equipment, six-wheel ATVs, golf carts, personal moving devices, motorized watercraft of all kinds, and all aircraft, will be shareable for the amount of the need that is not the responsibility of any insurance or liable party, and if all of the following conditions are met. The operator and any rider:
    were riding or operating the vehicle off a public road; or were riding or operating the vehicle on a public road of which the vehicle was of a type allowed on the public road, and
    were insured as required by law (and if not insured, then only those expenses greater than the legally required medical coverage shall be shareable), and
    were not engaged in formal racing or stunt competition, and
    were not operating the vehicle recklessly, or under the influence of alcohol or any illegal substance as defined by the applicable law.

  3. Victoria Avatar

    Our family participated with Samaritans for a few years and it was a great experience. We loved the notes that we sent and received along with our shares. However, I did find it stressful to communicate within the healthcare system our needs. For example, my husband needed a mole biopsied (it ended up being melanoma) and the clinic wouldn’t do the procedure without us paying up front. They would give us no quote or even estimate on what the amount might be so we were to show up to clinic prepared to pay somewhere between $1 and tens of thousands of dollars? We ended up requesting financial need discount from the hospital, which wasn’t our preference, but the only way they’d let us make an appointment short of committing to pay an unknown amount on the day of service. This wasn’t Samaritan’s fault, more a reflection of the system that didn’t know how to deal with this sort of “insurance”.
    I also think the issue of preexisting conditions is difficult. Insurance works best when there is a large number of healthy persons to help carry the less healthy. Our current system is obviously very broken but if many people opt into these other programs or insurance carriers that aren’t carrying the burden of people with preexisting conditions (like Type 1 Diabetes which is an autoimmune disorder that is very expensive to treat and is not preventable), hospitals begin billing at insane rates (to make up for non paying patients and because maybe greed too). I don’t know the long term answer (come quickly, Lord Jesus!) but I do see the importance of contributing to sustainable solutions that allows all people to have access to necessary healthcare.

  4. Emily Avatar

    This is an interesting concept — but doesn’t it leave out anyone with a pre-existing condition (of which there are zillions) as well as coverage for (God forbid) a cancer diagnosis, or other expensive diagnoses? What happens in those situations? I’m glad you have found something that works for your family, but I’m meanwhile very grateful that we are moving towards better coverage for *all* in our country, provided that the blue wave comes through in November! 🙂

    1. Pat Avatar

      Many of the healthsharing ministries have a path to coverage for pre-existing conditions. If you haven’t been treated for the condition in the past 1 or 2 or 3 years, if it cropped up again you would be covered. The only condition that most of them wouldn’t provide coverage for is Type 1 diabetes.

      Samaritan has the basic program which covers $250000 per need and the additional Save to Share program (which is a whopping $133 per YEAR to be a part of) covers an unlimited amount. I believe the largest need to date shared was $1.3 million, reduced after negotiation to the $700k range and then paid through sharing.

  5. Donna Avatar

    It was disturbing to me that you didn’t mention the fact that samaritans is a Christ-centered ministry until deep into the article. That is a very important factor in getting to be a part of samaritans.

  6. Stephanie Avatar

    and I agree with you and find this “healthshare” a scary and insanity model for healthcare. Having had a husband who was hardly ever sick a day in his life, took no medication, had parents and grandparents who lived into their 80s and 90s, get stricken with pancreatic cancer at age 58, then passed away two years later-these catastrophic illnesses can happen, and leave a family without protection in the event of a very scary illness-and expense. My husband’s first palliative chemo cost over $75,000 a month-that doesn’t include other expenses like labs, medications, scans. The responsible way to healthshare is with a national plan that covers all people-not just people who think like I do, or believe what I believe. UNSUBSCRIBING. I am not narrow-minded enough for this dribble.

  7. Pat Avatar

    I’m in Samaritan and only wish I’d done it sooner as I would have saved soooo much money. I haven’t had to submit a need yet in almost 2 years, but I submitted a special need for some dental work that came in at twice what I was estimated. (Special needs are at will contributions from members to cover medical expenses that aren’t shareable. Things like dental work or pre-existing conditions.) While the contributions didn’t cover the entire shortfall, they helped. And it was even more special because no one had to send me anything, they just did. I love Samaritan!

  8. Cindy Avatar

    My fears for this type of healthshare where “premiums” are sent directly to someone in need is that:

    1. What if many people are in need that month, say ‘Sally and Her Gout Toes, AND ‘Baby and His Heart Surgery’? I’m guessing most people would send their money to the ‘Baby and His Heart Surgery’, instead of to ”Sally and Her Gout Toes’. Sally could lose out because Babies trump everything else, and Sally’s problem “seems” less important. I would have to wonder if the healthshare programs that have money pooled and distributed would be better in this type of case since they would make sure everyone gets the full amount they are due.

    2. During times of recession: Every economist in the U.S. is predicting not only another recession in 2020, but something so monstrous, that it will be worse than the Great Depression of the 1930’s. I’m guessing that all these people in the healthshares, will just fall away and not send any money to anyone. In other words, they will effectively, upon losing their livelihoods, be dropping the healthshare program and people that remain will get very little to nothing for their needs. Whereas in the crappy insurance industry, at least you will still get your coverage, no matter what.

    I too hate the insurance industry and wish they provided insurance that only covered accidents and hospitalizations and after-care. I would pay 100% for all preventive and doctor visits and labs, etc. But they don’t offer that. I would love to be in a healthshare program, but if you have a $300,000 open heart surgery (the average price) or need an organ transplant with a MILLION dollar cost…. are healthshares going to leave you in the cold and bankrupt????

    1. Denise Avatar

      In response to your first point, the members of Samaritan don’t decide which needs to send money to. You are assigned a specific need to pray for and send money to per month by Samaritan so all needs get equal attention, even ‘Sally and her Gout Toes’. 🙂

  9. Lisa Avatar

    We did exactly the same thing as you two years ago now and I can honestly say it’s been a great experience. Instead of fear, which I felt leaving a traditional insurance company but had to bc of $2600 monthly premiums, it is the most freeing feeling. Especially if you are into not traditional treatment options and functional medicine, which we are and which aren’t covered by those traditional insurances anyway. Great post. Very thorough.

  10. Cindy Avatar

    When my husband retired early, and we are both too young for Medicare. We chose a health care sharing ministry similar to Samaritan, the main difference being that each family sends their “share” to the company and it is then redistributed. I’ve only had to submit two “needs” so far, and both were completely covered, but with our company it takes 120 days for them to process the need! Everything had to be paid out-of-pocket, up front, and four months was a long time to wait to be reimbursed. It is a lot of paperwork; you have to have all the right info on each receipt (and many providers only offer a receipt with the amount you paid, without dx codes, etc.); and most providers require payment up front before they will see you — nobody sends you a bill these days. Very few of the providers I’ve seen have ever even heard of health care sharing networks, so I’ve had to spend a lot of time explaining how they work. My worst fear is that one of us will get seriously ill or need surgery, and we won’t have enough in savings to pay for it outright, as that is how it works in the U.S. if you don’t have insurance. These networks are best for the young and healthy, IMHO, but for those of us who are entering our golden years — with substantially more health issues — it’s a pretty scary option…..

  11. Jennifer Avatar

    Yes I am A member of health sharing. Liberty Healthshare. Like u , I researched long and hard before joining. I think it is great and do
    appreciate that my money helps others vs shareholders. My husband and I are both close to retirement and self employed. Traditional healthcare was totally unaffordable. Liberty is Mennonite based and does not require church membership to b a member. It asks to to believe in Bible principles of Body is a temple and freedom of worship. They do cover pre existing conditions after one year (great bonus). They have you inform you health care providers and agree to this provider and they negotiate. We paid 300 a month for 2 of us. We are healthy and use it infrequently but when we have there is no issue of payment. I love the concept. We need more options like this. Jennifer.

  12. Bailey G Avatar

    Yes!!! We have had Samaritans Ministries for 4 years now and are continually blessed by it and the beauty of carrying each other’s burdens like God calls us to. We have had a hospital birth using a midwife and went through the medical bills after a miscarriage with SMI and although it was a little bit of a learning curve and took a little time it’s so rewarding (and I am not blessed with managerial skills at all!). It also takes us from reliance on a healthcare system to relying on God who promises to meet our every need. Thank you, Katie, for sharing this!

  13. Pam Avatar

    As a long practicing midwife, I can tell you the Health Shares on my end are the BEST! No fighting, long strung out communications (often with many long phone delays, hangups, trying to navigate the “system”, get to the right person,sometimes months of delays, etc). One simple statement with simple codes and done in 5 minutes. Never a hassle. Often completed before the birth. I know some midwives are unsure about taking it at first, but it doesn’t take much be a believer. Encouraged my daughter to join one. Started as a home birth, transferred to the hospital and almost all was covered. I have seen that with a couple of other clients also–covered my fee and hospital/Dr fee without question. That never happens with regular insurance. Negotiations for discounts were easy for my clients and reimbursement quick. I don’t see any downside as a provider at all. Do your research for sure and find your best company. I think it always feels good to get out of mainstream approach and make decisions for yourself in the end. Just putting the first foot in the water is a little bit of an adventure. Thank you for a great post!

  14. Denise Avatar

    We have been using Samaritan Ministries for the past couple of years because my husband is self-employed and BCBS insurance would have been $1700 a month for our family. We have absolutely loved it as well. It’s such a different and much less stressful experience than dealing with insurance in the past. It’s crazy how much cheaper things are when you are ‘self-pay’. I had a similar experience with childbirth costs. With insurance when I had my 3rd child we paid around $10,000 out of pocket (we had a high deductible plan and moved halfway through the pregnancy to a different state). We got Samaritan Ministries before I got pregnant with my 4th and wow! I paid $0 out of pocket…these totals don’t include premiums for ins during the 3rd pregnancy and shares we paid during the 4th for other families in Samaritan. The prayer element is also wonderful. I can’t recommend it enough!

  15. Sara D Avatar

    We joined MediShare a couple of years ago when my COBRA ended. The exchange was quoting us $1700 a month for a high deductible health plan. Our monthly share amount is now $247 (it recently increased because I got older). We have had a rough month with ER visits for 3 of our 4 family members but we are still ahead considering the amount we would have paid in premium. Plus as you mentioned the self pay discounts are significant so I don’t submit claims- I just pay them and hold them until we hit our Annual Household Portion. So far it has been great and really seems to be a community. I also love that whenever I call them they pray with me- their customer service representatives are excellent.

  16. Rebecca Avatar

    May I ask why you didn’t consider Liberty Healthshare instead? It is much cheaper, (They recently raised their prices) and they have an annual deductible, when once met, they pay 100%. For my husband and I, we have been with them since 2015. $299/mo in premiums with a $1000 “deductible” per year total. Then, once that is met, they pay 100%. They pay for all lab work, but they only pay for some prescriptions.

    They pay 100% of chiro visits, acupuncturists, ND and holistic doctors, and they even paid for 12 sessions of ultraviolet blood irradiation (with ozone) for my chronic EBV. They also allow homebirths and cover midwives.

    And, they cover ALL doctor appts, not just the ones that are over $300. With little kids, many families go to the doctor quite often, and all those appts would be covered under Liberty Healthshare, but not under Samaritan Ministries.

    Nonetheless, I think Samaritan ministries is my second favorite healthshare. But Liberty is still the best by far.

    Christian Healthcare ministries is my least favorite (although it is the cheapest), because they require you to apply for government assistance before they pay your hospital bills, which is 100% AGAINST everything I stand for (because I am libertarian, not socialist).

    1. Cindy Avatar

      Just have to clear something up for you. You imply that socialists want all people on assistance, for God’s sakes. You made a little dig, that happens to be WRONG. If you want to know what IS socialist, well theres: Social Security, Medicare, your local Fire Department, your local Police Department, your local public schools, your local highway department. Everything that takes taxes and pools it together for the good of all is considered “socialist”. Welfare and other safety nets are a necessity in our world and should be there for the people that fall on hard times.

    2. Cindy Avatar

      Also, I want to say that Christian Healthcare is specifically FOR people on government assistance. It’s to help the poor. You talk as though they are a “socialist” group who “wants everybody on assistance”. Shame on you.

    3. Julie G. Avatar

      Rebecca, please tell me how you were able to handle EBV with Libert Health Shares. We were going to switch to them last year but my husband has EBV and they said we would have a one year waiting period in covering anything to do with the EBV but he would be covered for everything else. Please reply and let me know how you handled this with them. I am thinking of making the switch this year. Thank you! Julie

  17. Jeanene Avatar

    My first reaction is honestly “fear” what if it’s not covered or if they won’t nevotiste discount. It also sounds like tons of paper work and research. Now after all of that confessed I will read the links you attached and do trust your experiences. Just have to breathe it out 😉 thank you for sharing so much of your life, experiences, and knowledge

  18. Fiona Avatar

    Wow, is that what it costs to have a baby in the US? How do people manage who haven’t got that kind of money?

  19. Bailey Avatar

    I love this post! My fiancé and I are getting married in TWO WEEKS! And we will be getting the Catholic branch of Samaritan which is CMF-CURO. I am a pharmacist and turn 26 in just a couple months so I won’t be on my mom’s plan anymore. My fiance works for a health insurance company currently while he starts electrician training and we both hate the traditional insurance model. Especially how immoral they all are. Every big health insurance company covers abortions, sterilizations (tubal ligation, vasectomies), contaception, all of which are morally reprehensible and we are forced to pay for indirectly by purchasing from those companies. I love that Samaritan covers 100% of home births and probably my favorite part is that your monthly “payment” is actually helping someone, not just going to some faceless insurance company. I also have a flexible health spending account form my hospital job which we can use for things like dentists, eye doctor, glasses, contacts, breast milk pumps, etc.

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