It seems I’m been hearing a lot about insurance these days. Either people are unhappy w/ their coverage, its too expensive, the copays are still too high, etc. Or they are losing insurance because of being laid off and such. I’ve been telling a lot of friends about our Christian alternative to insurance, Samaritan Ministries. But I’ve yet to post anything here…so I thought its about time!
We’ve been a part of Samaritan Ministries since Seth and I married over 6 years ago. And we’ve yet to be unhappy with it. In case you’ve never heard about sharing ministries, it goes like this…
We pay a set amount monthly (see below for current rates), but instead of sending the amount to an insurance company, we send it directly to another family to help pay for their medical needs. Samaritan sends a newsletter and address of another member every month. They tell us some basic info as to the person’s medical need and ask that we send our payment along with a card. In order to get a need published, and your info sent to other members for reimbursement, you have to send in the appropriate info to the main Samaritan office. It’s pretty easy, really.
In order to be a member of Samaritan, you have to apply, and agree to a list of standards (don’t smoke, attend church regularly, don’t drink to point of drunkenness, etc). These standards help keep our costs low by assuring that we’re not paying for alcohol/tobacco related illnesses and that we are supporting other practicing Christians.
So far we’ve had a number of needs submitted through Samaritan and have always been reimbursed. I didn’t have to pay anything for my maternity needs w/ Haddie, except for some interest on my credit cards from putting a lot of the bills on it until I was reimbursed (it wasn’t much interest either). I’ve had to submit at least 4 other medical “events” including an ER visit, 2 separate CAT scans and all the costs from Haddie’s testing/Arnold Palmer appt (to check for a blood disorder…which all came back negative!).
The only downside to Samaritan is that it doesn’t cover preventative care or basic doctor visits (like for basic sicknesses). But most doctor offices provide self-pay discounts which usually range from 10-60%. And if you add up the amount you’d actually spend on doctor’s visits (and how rarely a lot of us go) and the low Samaritan monthly rate vs. the typical copays and monthly insurance rates, many of you will find that Samaritan is still much cheaper. However, Samaritan may not the best choice for some individuals who have chronic illnesses that require regular expensive doctor visits and daily medications.
Samaritan has a $300 deductible for each medical “event.” But that deductible is reduced with each dollar that you save for self-pay discounts. This is how I paid nothing for my pregnancy/delivery and all of Haddie’s special testing/doctor’s visits. Most hospitals (at least in our area) offer great self pay discounts. All Health First facilities offer 60% discounts for any hospital stays or testing if you pay in full within 30 days. Many times they’ll still give you the discount if you have to set up a payment plan. And Wuesthoff typically offers 40% discounts.
I really like how Samaritan doesn’t require preauthorizations before you can get procedures done or visit a specialist. They don’t have networks you have to abide by, so you can choose your own doctors! And they even cover medical fees in adoption situations (including for the birth mother)…something that may come in handy for us sometime in the future.
I love the personal service you receive through Samaritan and the fact that with each need you submit, they ask for specific prayer requests so that they can publish these w/ your need. It’s an all around great ministry. And, thanks to a lot of calls and pressure from other sharing ministries…Samartian members (and ministries like it) are now exempt from having to purchase insurance with the new health insurance laws.
Here’s an article that recently ran in Times magazine. And shocker…its actually puts the ministry in a pretty positive (or at least neutral) light.
Time Magazine June 7 Edition.
Current monthly rates:
Single Adult: $135
Married Couple: $270
Single Parent Family: $200
Two Parent Family (unlimited # of children): $320
Yearly subscription fee: $170 (This is charged once a year at anniversary of sign-up)
There are also monthly discounts if anyone in the household is a full-time student at a Christian college or if any adult is 25 yrs old or younger.
For more info check out http://www.samaritanministries.org
Feel free to post any specific questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.