We don’t have health insurance.
However, we do have pretty much every emergency or maternity need provided for, 100%, directly from actual people.
The picture above is what that looks like in light of my recent ER and maternity bills: sweet cards and notes from individuals and families that I’ve never met, each accompanied with a check, all of which add up to almost exactly what my hospital and midwife statements are asking of me.
Additionally, each month instead of writing a check to an insurance company, I’m writing a check and making a card for people, with names.
I wanted to make a post about Samaritan Ministries, our alternative to health insurance, because I am incredibly impressed with this company and I wish we would’ve signed up earlier, before we had to pay $6000 out-of-pocket for medical expenses in 2012. For many of you, this might be a really good plan for you too. This isn’t a “sponsored post” and I don’t expect to make any money off of this; I’m just genuinely grateful for Samaritan and I want my friends to know about it!
Here’s how it works:
At the beginning of each month, I get a nice thick envelope from Samaritan Ministries. Enclosed is a member newsletter (which actually has really interesting and helpful articles therein), a prayer guide, and the name, need, and address of a family to whom I am specifically assigned to send an encouraging note and our check.
No matter how many kids we have, our monthly cost (they call it our monthly “share”) is the same for our whole family, and it was much less when my husband and I were under 25 years old. You can view the pricing here, but I am extremely pleased with our amount each month and I think the other pricing scales are fair too.
[Update November 2017]: Samaritan recently announced a new, much more affordable kind of membership called Samaritan Basic. In our case, the monthly share is half what we're paying now. The difference is that they only cover needs above $1500 (as opposed to $300 with the Samaritan Classic plan), so it's significantly cheaper per month but for minor bills you're still on your own. It also covers 90% instead of 100% of your bills, up to $5000 for maternity needs, and $236,500 is the maximum you can be covered. We are seriously considering this option for our own family to bring down our monthly bills.
One month I might send my share to a family in Wyoming whose daughter broke her leg. The next month I might send my share to a widower in Delaware who just had hip surgery. The next month I might be assigned to a family in California expecting a baby. One month out of the year I send a check directly to Samaritan Ministries, and that’s how they cover administrative expenses.
So let's say I have a publishable need. For example: this June when I was on vacation I went to the ER twice for strep throat, and I almost fell over in shock when I received the bills in the mail.
I called Samaritan and told them about it. The person on the other end of the phone prayed with me, submitted the information, and a few days later I received the paperwork in the mail.
I had to send some things such as an itemized bill, papers signed by Peter and I and one of our pastors, etc.
Then, a month or two after that, other Samaritan members are given my name, need, and address in their newsletter, and they respond. The checks and cards start coming in and we are reimbursed for our bills. (Some we already paid, some we were waiting to pay until we received the checks.)
I honestly didn’t know I would smile so much when it came to paying for health bills, but it’s truly a process that leads me in worship of Jesus.
One downside is that routine checkups, dental, and pre-existing conditions (including pregnancy that you already knew about before becoming a member) are not considered publishable needs. However, there’s no “deductible.” If a need costs more than $300, it is publishable up to $250,000. Unless the need isn’t publishable according to Samaritan’s guidelines---or in the rare case that there are more needs than shares and the money you need has to be prorated by a small percentage---you should expect to get 100% of the medical bill paid for by Samaritan. That’s really good.
How can this all work? I thought the website says it really well. And please know that Samaritan is a Christian ministry so you do have to be committed to Jesus and have your pastor sign a paper in agreement that this is true of you. This is taken from page 9 of their guidelines:
When the doctor asks for my insurance card and I say “I don’t have insurance”, the bill is given a significant discount because insurance companies are charged inflated rates. By the way, Samaritan members aren't fined for violating the Affordable Care Act, because there is an exception in the rules for healthcare-sharing ministries such as Samaritan (see the FAQ here.) I also like that I know my monthly share isn’t going towards medical issues I find deplorable.
I’ll admit I was skeptical of Samaritan because I was afraid the company would be overly anti-establishmentarian and offering poor quality just because they know people are desperate.
On the contrary, I have been so impressed with Samaritan’s professionalism, and I’ve found almost everything that’s written about the Lord to be worshipful and Christ-centered. Each month’s newsletter even includes a prayer guide for the persecuted church! So I love that I can trust the people on the board, and I back their decisions. Several times we’ve even had a reduced monthly share because there were fewer needs than there were monthly shares. That shows integrity and care on behalf of the administration and I really appreciate it.
[Update November 2017]: I'm only becoming more impressed with this company. They are always growing in efficiency and innovation, and the website is extremely easy to use. This year, I was able to publish a need and sort out all the paperwork without having to talk to anyone on the phone or mail anything in. It's all done easily through the website and taking pictures with my phone. I am always becoming more impressed.
So that’s Samaritan! You probably have lots of questions so I ask that you read the Member Guidelines and the FAQ. When looking into our insurance options, I spent a good bit of time taking notes and really processing everything before we made our decision, but after I read all the information on Samaritan's website, talked to a representative on the phone, and discussed it with Peter, it was a very easy decision to make. We know families who have been with Samaritan for over a decade, and they are pleased.
I’m really grateful for Samaritan Ministries and---especially since our family is growing pretty quickly so far---I don’t think we will be able to find a better option. And I see no need to. I love Samaritan! :)
November 2017 update: We've been members for about four years now and I still love Samaritan! For this post I updated our monthly share cost and I hope all the other information is still accurate as well.
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My name is Hope.
I'm 26, married to a former skater dude, and raising little people ages 6, 4, 3, and squishy-baby. I like lime green and sarsaparilla, and I wear my Crocs until they melt. (Florida problems.)
Quick links to some of my posts:
Articles I've Written on Other Sites:
Youth Ministry's Family Blindspot - Christianity Today