Checks are coming in!

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Posted by admin | Posted in Our Need Experience | Posted on 13-02-2017

The need we submitted in December for my husband’s surgery was shared this month with other members. Checks are arriving! It’s so fun to see what states members are in (4 so far; GA, TN, FL, and AZ). It’s amazing to think that his surgery was only 2 months and 5 days ago. Since we got the bill sent to us and submitted online right away, sharing is super fast. According to the post office stamp on each envelope mail is taking 3-4 days to reach us. That’s not bad. And they’re coming in a couple each day so it’s very easy to manage the list and get it recorded online who has sent us their share. I can see the full list of everyone’s name that was assigned to our need. We could confirm receipt through our online Samaritan account or on paper and mail it in. Either way it’s very simple.

I am SO THANKFUL for Samaritan. We feel so blessed to be a part of this ministry and know that these families are sharing our burden and praying for complete healing. It works! I knew it would because of how well it worked for friends of ours, but it’s still so amazing to have that confirmed for our own need. I plan to take a picture of the cards/checks to put with this post at a later date. Going to the mailbox is such a joy. I don’t have much else to add besides, “wow”. Thank You Lord.

Update on Our Need Submission

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Posted by admin | Posted in Our Need Experience, Samaritan Perks | Posted on 04-01-2017

We have made great progress with my husband’s need submission, but the holiday schedule prevented me from updating the blog before now.

SHORT VERSION: This has been so easy, simple and relaxed. It hasn’t even been time consuming; I’ve spent less than an hour on the entire process so far, and that’s just because I liked chatting with the Samaritan rep. 🙂 Actual work time was about 35 min I think.  Edit: I spent more time on this blog post than I did on the need submission

LONG VERSION: I got the bill I was waiting for in the mail from the surgeon’s office about a week after the surgery was performed. In the scheme of things that is really fast. In this case, one bill takes care of everything; office visit, surgery costs, and testing. In most cases I’m sure there would be a few bills to wait for (doctor, surgeon, hospital, xray), but we had this done at one location that handles everything themselves. I made sure that everything was itemized. I did need to call the surgeon’s office to get clarification on one thing, it was explained and nothing needed to be resent. So that meant I’ve made a total of 3 phone calls to the provider as part of this process (research-call, scheduling-call, question something on the bill-call). That’s not a big time commitment on my part.

When I got the bill I logged in my online account at Samaritan and followed the steps to submit my bills online. First it required us to fill out the questions about the bill, including dates of service, provider name/address/phone, patient name, description of what was done, and a review of the provider’s service.  I think most people could do this portion in 5-10 minutes (per bill), longer if you are feeling wordy.

Next is to actually upload a picture of the bill. So I took a photo of the bill with my phone (tablet works, too) and then emailed that image to myself so I could proceed using my big computer screen. I could have done the upload from my phone or tablet also I think, but the screens are small and I’d rather be able to see everything I’m doing all at once. 🙂 PDF scans are currently not permitted, bills must be submitted as a clearly readable photograph. That process took another 2-5 minutes.

If we had received multiple bills I would have done that process for each one. (I could have submitted the bill for the prescription, but it was about $13 and I can pay that myself.) I would estimate submitting 10 bills would take an hour or less (some wouldn’t need much explaining and you can take all the pictures at once). I don’t consider that to be unreasonable considering the benefits of having so much of the bills shared.

Then I wait. At any point I can go into my need section of the online account and see the status of the need. For a couple days it said it hadn’t been reviewed yet. Then we got busy and I forgot about it. Since I had originally selected email contact when the need was created, I realized that I would be missing out on talking to someone at Samaritan (and what if I missed the message?), so I gave them a call a few days later. I verified with member services that they had everything they needed, he confirmed it hadn’t been reviewed yet, but would be soon. We had a nice chat and he asked about my husband’s healing so far. It was a very relaxed, friendly call and I felt like he genuinely cared about our health. A couple days later I checked and it had been reviewed, I think it took about a week, maybe 10 days for it to be reviewed, which is impressive considering a major holiday was in the middle. It gives me a need bar graph showing what portion of the need was discounted and what is publishable. All of our need is publishable. Since it was submitted in December and no further actions are required (meaning there was enough detail/itemization) I expect it will be published for sharing in February. I was told we’ll be contacted before it’s published so they can tell us what to expect.

needscreen

Overall, I’ve spent less than an hour on the entire process and had only very easy steps to take. The Samaritan rep I spoke with thanked us for getting the discounts and mentioned something about us doing the work on that. I had to be honest that it really didn’t seem like a lot of work. The provider was friendly, patient and accommodating. The process of receiving the bill and submitting to Samaritan was so simple. With online submissions it didn’t even require a stamp. There hasn’t been any of the headaches insurance used to give me. And I didn’t have to get a bill, then an insurance EOB, then a final bill. I just got the one bill and turned it in. Even if it had been 10 bills, it still would have been less paperwork than using insurance simply by not having to get the extra EOBs and final bills (with big balances to pay).

It seems clear that Samaritan has worked hard to make this process as smooth as possible. Yes, there’s a few steps for us. But honestly, the steps aren’t difficult and if there aren’t a lot of bills it’s not even that time consuming. If you aren’t tech savvy, you can still do it all through the mail, which would add a couple days on either end for mail time, but it wouldn’t delay sharing unless your submission crossed into the next month. Or find a family member to help with online submissions. Either way, Samaritan is there to answer questions if you aren’t sure of something. They don’t ask for excessive information and all of it is logical. Another great part was being able to explain the bills as part of the bill submission. You can’t really do that with insurance so there’s no way to point out a unique fact about the bill. For instance my husband had surgery done on both hands at the same time. So the bill looks like we were double charged, when in fact it was a charge for each hand, itemized. I can point that out when I’m giving the details about what the bill is for (it could have been explained over the phone, too). With insurance that may have resulted in a rejection of 1/2 the charges (assuming they notice, many times they don’t) and either a delay or a fight to get it fixed. But with Samaritan I can explain that and any potential problem is avoided. It’s a personal touch even through electronic communication, which I find fantastic.

Overall I give this process an A-.   For some reason I didn’t get an email saying the need had officially been reviewed, however I did get emails when I first started the need online. If I had a personal secretary to handle it for me then I’d give it an A+ 🙂

I’ll update again when the bills are shared.

Update: A day after writing this post we did get a nice summary of our need in the mail, including details that it has been reviewed, how much is publishable, the publishing schedule (confirmed for February) and a list of the bills included. It’s a very nicely done information sheet. It’s readable, colorful, informative, detailed and not confusing at all.

Meeting With the Surgeon

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Posted by admin | Posted in Our Need Experience, Samaritan Perks | Posted on 06-12-2016

We met with our preferred surgeon today and had the carpal tunnel testing done. When we walked in we paid our $250 good faith deposit and were even seen about 5 minutes early. There was absolutely no problem being self pay patients. She was very friendly and gave us a big smile. When I mentioned again that we are health care sharing members it seemed to trigger her memory that we’d need itemized statements for any bills. I confirmed that we would and she said she’d put a special note in our file to make sure that got done. Nice.

The surgeon put my husband through a series of tests to determine if he truly had any issues that surgery would solve or if something else needed to be done. It was a very relaxed process and we got all our questions answered. The hour long appointment determined, yes, he absolutely needs the surgery on both hands (the tech even explained the test results as they were happening because we were curious what he was looking for. It was neat.) But yikes! Clearly I’d been hoping he’d somehow pass those tests with flying colors and there’d be no reason to proceed. Having it confirmed that surgery was necessary was a bit breathtaking for me. It’s safe to say my husband took it better than I did. 🙁

After going over the test results, we began discussing possible surgery dates, and upon learning that we are self pay the doctor seemed to light up. He smiled and completely relaxed and said that if we wanted to do both hands at once, we could. Insurance prohibits that (at least they won’t pay for it unless they’re done on different days, even though that’s more expensive), and insurance also has rules about not allowing the surgery within a certain number of days after a visit, and as he said they sometimes don’t end up paying for what they say they will anyway. To hear that he was free to advise us strictly as patients and not as insurance customers was quite liberating for him. Based on their surgery schedule it ended up making more sense for us to have both hands done at once. And most amazing of all, the surgery could be scheduled for 3 days from now. 3 days! So much for thinking it would have to be in January! They had an opening in their schedule and since we didn’t have to follow any restrictive insurance rules that quick date was an option for us. The nurse agreed that not having to cram it in to meet a deductible was great, but we could take that slot if we wanted it. My feelings on the whole thing went from breathtaking to shock. I kind of wanted to turn it down just because it seemed like things were moving faster than I was mentally prepared for. But my husband was more rational and after learning what was required for recovery (not much, just a couple days of bandages) and factoring in our shifting schedules for this month vs the next couple of months, we determined that going ahead with the surgery now would best (plus the January date had a conflict already). I admit I’m still a bit in shock.

As a side note, Samaritan membership has now blessed us from both sides of the scheduling issue. Not only did our membership mean we didn’t have to cram anything in before Jan 1, it also allows us to go ahead with the procedure early when insurance would have forced us to wait. We didn’t need to ask permission from anyone but ourselves. We needed to only check our calendars and decide what worked best for us given this new opportunity and allow us to take advantage of it because being self pay with ministry backing means WE are in control. I cannot tell you how incredibly wonderful that is. The entire appointment was so simple for everyone. For us, for the doctor, and for his staff. We decided to go ahead and commit to full payment up front on the day of the surgery because the amount is reasonable. The nurse said the standard process is to get that payment when services are rendered (and the sign on the counter said the same thing), but she could ask the doctor if he’d accept 1/2 later if we wanted. After meeting with him I think he would have agreed to it, but I decided not to push the issue since I was already getting a 50% discount and they were so accommodating on the scheduling.

He prescribed 3 medications, two to take before surgery and one after. Remembering again that we are self pay, he was worried that the pharmacy would overcharge for the meds. He offered to help reduce the medicine costs by sourcing them through his office (not samples, but reduced cost somehow). I told him about the goodrx app that we use and he seemed skeptical that it would work so we looked them all up. Pricing varied, but the cheapest place in town resulted in a total of $13.69 in med costs. He was surprised I could find it that low and clearly expected it to be much higher. We took his scripts to the pharmacy and they were filled in 20 minutes. $13.69.  No big deal.

Honestly, the process has gone so smoothly, and so quickly, I haven’t even talked to Samaritan yet to start our need. I suppose I should do that pretty soon. 🙂 Mostly so that they can put my husband on their prayer list for speedy healing and successful surgeries with both hands. When we go in for the procedure I hope to get an itemized statement on the spot. Based on the alertness of the receptionist I think that might be possible. If not, I don’t think it will take too long. They will still be billing us for the remainder of the testing charges from today’s visit, but those are also done at a 50% discount and I can add them to the surgery charges to submit the need in full.

Stay tuned for the next post about the need process and the surgery. Please pray that the procedure is successful and that he heals quickly.