Samaritan Ministries vs Christian Healthcare Ministries

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Posted by admin | Posted in Other Ministries | Posted on 14-12-2013

There are a few Christian Healthcare Sharing Ministries available which are all ACA exempt. The comparison between Samaritan Ministries and Christian Healthcare Ministries was closer for us. Samaritan’s monthly cost structure is based on family types (couple, single, family unit) for the Classic Plan and also has age banding for the Basic plan with both plans having the same services shareable. CHMinistries cost structure is based on which level of coverage you choose (gold/silver/bronze).

If this page is your first glimpse of Samaritan and you are interested in more details about how Samaritan Ministries works, please read through the pages at the right as I go into a lot of detail about everything. If you have questions don’t hesitate to ask! :)

COST/BENEFIT COMPARISON

updated 09/19/2017 SAMARITAN SAMARITAN CHRISTIAN HEALTHCARE MINISTRIES
LEVELS CLASSIC BASIC GOLD SILVER BRONZE
PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AMOUNT BEFORE SHARING STARTS
$300/incident $1500/incident $500/yr (per unit) $1000/incident $5000/incident

MONTHLY COST
family of 3+ $495 $350 $450 $255 $135
couple mid 20s $440 $200 $300 $170 $90
MONTHLY COST REDUCED IF FEWER NEEDS THAT MONTH Yes Yes No
SHARING LIMITS PER NEED, BASE PROGRAM (more available,
see below)
$250,000 $236,500 $125,000 $125,000 $125,000
SHARING PERCENTAGE
100% 90% (member pays 10% with max of $13,500) all some costs excluded some costs excluded
MATERNITY 100% of shareable, all expense types max of $5000 all exp. hospital only hospital only
  • Samaritan’s new Basic plan is available as of Oct 2, 2017

FEATURE COMPARISONS

SAMARITAN, BOTH PLANS CHRISTIAN HEALTHCARE MINISTRIES
ANNUAL FEES, APPLICATION FEES No annual fee, $200 application fee No annual fee or application fee
GUIDELINES OF WHAT’S SHARED Samaritan guidelines CHM Guidelines
MONTHLY PAYMENT send direct to Members sent to CHM to be shared
AVAILABILITY all states all states
REFERRAL PROGRAM $100 credit free month for each new membership
SHARING TIMELINE 30-60 days typically (1-2 mo) 90-120 days typically (3-4 mo)
WHO SENDS BILLS patient sends bills to Samaritan patient sends bills to CHMinistries
SHARING LIMITS
  • $250,000 per incident -Classic membership OR
  • $236,500 per incident -Basic membership ($250k minus $13,500 max co-share)

Save to Share program for everything above $250,000.

No lifetime limits

  1. $125,000/incident – regular membership
  2. Brothers Keeper program for costs above $125,000 (unlimited at the gold level, $100,000 at the silver/bronze levels)
  3. For the silver/bronze levels you gain $100,000 of extra coverage for each year of renewal, up to $1 million
  4. I don’t think there are lifetime limits
FAQ Samaritan FAQs CHMinistries FAQs
PRESCRIPTION DRUGS All drugs related to an incident/treatment and those as part of hospital treatments are shared plus four calendar months of maintenance drugs
  1. Gold – incident related drug costs are shared
  2. Silver/Bronze – no prescriptions shared
  3. All levels – no maintenance drug coverage
PHONE NUMBERS 888-268-4377 800-791-6225
WEBSITE samaritanministries.org chministries.org
PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS
  • If the condition has been considered “cured” with no treatments or symptoms for 12 months, it’s no longer pre-existing.
  • For cancers and heart conditions the timeframe is 5 years
  • Type 1 diabetes is always considered pre-existing.
  • New, unrelated cancers are shared right away, even if you had a different cancer previously.
Step up plan for pre-existing conditions (Gold plan only, must be maintenance mode, not actively being treated)

  • year 1, up to $15,000.
  • year 2, another $10,000.
  • year 3, another $25,000.
  • After that no longer preexisting
CATASTROPHIC Save to Share Program. For needs above $250k, you put money in savings that you may be asked to share. $15 annual fee

  • Singles – $133/yr
  • Couples – $266/yr
  • Single parent family – $266/yr
  • Two parent family – $399/yr
Brother’s Keeper Program. For needs above $125k (gold members, unlimited – silver/bronze extra $100k), $40 annual fee. Avg cost is $25/quarter for each membership unit (each person is a unit, max of 3)

  • Singles = $100/yr
  • Couples = $200/yr
  • Family rate max = $300/yr

Money sent to Brother’s Keeper escrow account each quarter

JOINING WHILE PREGNANT Samaritan will share expenses for existing pregnancies as special prayer needs and members must have a due date of 250 days after joining to be eligible for pregnancy sharing. CHM has no sharing for expenses related to existing pregnancies, and those expenses also cannot be shared on the Prayer Page. Members must have a due date of 300 days after joining in order to be eligible for pregnancy sharing.

 

SIMILARITIES

  • No tobacco use.
  • Moderate alcohol use allowed, no drinking to excess.
  • No s-e-x outside of marriage.
  • No abortion coverage.
  • Must be a Christian and attend church regularly.
  • Extra sharing plans available (not required) for members with non publishable bills. Samaritan’s is called Special Prayer Needs, Christian Healthcare Ministries calls it the Prayer Page.
  • Routine care not published on either one.
  • Both have programs available for high costs above the standard membership amounts, Samaritan has Save to Share, Christian Healthcare Ministries has Brothers’ Keeper.
  • Both are exempt from the ACA, no fines/fees/taxes from the government for being a member.
  • No increase in monthly share amounts for having more children.
  • Monthly shares do not go up as you get older.
  • Both programs apply any obtained discounts toward the members own personal responsibility amounts first, thereby potentially leaving $0 out of pocket to pay if enough discounts are obtained.
  • Christian Healthcare Ministries uses a 3 tiered plan setup similar to the Obamacare metal plans. Samaritan has two levels. Lower personal responsibilities cost more per month. CHM services that are shareable are different depending on which level you’re in, Samaritan shares the same set of services on both plans. Both ministries have options depending on what your budget can handle.

 

MAJOR DIFFERENCES

  • Maternity is different between them. With Samaritan if you join while pregnant they will share the maternity expenses as a Special Prayer Need. — With CHMinistries you cannot share an existing maternity need at all, not even through their Prayer Page (for unshareable items). Due dates must be 250 days after joining for full sharing with Samaritan, it’s 300 days with CHM.
  • Samaritan’s personal responsibility amount (similar to deductible) is $300 per incident on Classic and $1500/incident on Basic. CHM’s is $500/unit/yr on the gold, $1000/incident on silver, $5000/incident on bronze. As stated above both will allow these to be reduced dollar for dollar for any discounts obtained.
  • Samaritan allows dental expenses to be shared through Special Prayer Needs, CHM doesn’t appear to allow those through their prayer page.
  • CHMinistries requires you to first apply for government and financial assistance programs before they will share your need. This is a problem for me as I do not wish to be on Medicaid even if we qualified, nor do I wish to waste the time applying and waiting for a response. Samaritan does not have this requirement. If a Samaritan member happens to be on medicaid or medicare that’s fine, samaritan shares the portion of needs those programs didn’t cover just like CHM. But Samaritan doesn’t require you to apply in the first place.
  • CHMinistries share all maternity expenses on the Gold plan, but only shares the hospital portion of charges for maternity care on silver/bronze plans.  Samaritan’s Classic plan shares all maternity bills (prenatal, hospital, homebirth, midwife, doctor, etc), the Basic plan caps sharing at $5000 on maternity. With both Samaritan plans if you have a home birth or a VBAC the $300 or $1500 personal responsibility amount is completely waived.
  • Samaritan publishes/shares twice as much with a regular membership as CHMinistries ($250k vs $125k)
  • Samaritan’s Save to Share has no hard official limit for needs above $250k on both plan levels (Classic and Basic), Brother’s Keeper from CHMinistries has no official limit only if you’re a Gold level member. The cap is smaller and rises slowly (much too slowly for my taste) if you’re a Silver or Bronze member.
  • CHMinistries has some immediate sharing for pre-existing conditions in maintenance mode (gold plan only), while getting out of PEC status after 3 years of no active treatment. Samaritan has many PECs falling out of pre-existing status after only 12 months of no symptoms/treatments/meds, with cancers and heart issues requiring 5 years.
  • Samaritan will reduce the monthly share in any month that has fewer needs, CHM does not.
  • Christian Healthcare Ministries doesn’t cover alternative doctors or therapies, Samaritan will fully share these alternative options (must be preapproved and cost cannot be well above traditional treatments)
  • CHMinistries doesn’t cover emergency transportation (ambulance, life flight, etc) from the site of your emergency to a medical facility. They will cover transport between facilities if it’s deemed life threatening and you can’t be served at the first location (per CHM guidelines dated 1/1/13). Samaritan will fully share all medically necessary transportation from the emergency site and transport between facilities ordered by your doctor.
  • Samaritan shares in 25 chiropractic visits, CHMinistries does not share any chiropractic care.
  • I was told that CHM requires members with needs in the system to maintain an active membership until their need is fully paid. No matter how long it takes. So in the event you would switch to something else with a new job, etc, you would effectively be paying for insurance and CHM at the same time if you were waiting on a payment for your need. With payment timelines being 3-4 months, (the member who shared this was on his 5th month of waiting for payment) that means paying for both CHM and your other policy each month. Samaritan does not have this requirement.

REVIEWS

CHMinistries was my 2nd choice for a healthcare sharing ministry. It’s less confusing than Medishare and cheaper for the Gold level coverage than the Medishare equivalent. The family rate (3+) is just a bit higher on Samaritan vs CHM, but Samaritan gets us double the sharing limit membership ($250,000 with Samaritan, $125,000 with CHM) and typically pays faster. Even Samaritan’s basic plan shares almost double of CHM’s. That’s extra peace of mind for anyone not on the extra sharing programs (I highly recommend those extra sharing programs no matter which ministry or plan level you choose). Maternity coverage with Samaritan Classic is hands down better than anything, but we’re not planning on more children so that was less relevant to us. I really like the pre-existing conditions step-up plan with CHMinistries, although those conditions can fall out of PEC status faster with Samaritan. I think it would be better to wait only 1 year (Samaritan) for a well managed condition to fall out of pre-existing status vs 3 yrs (CHM). The Silver and Bronze CHMinistries plans exclude several things, whereas Samaritan’s lower plan doesn’t exclude any bill types vs their main plan, but it does require more costs to be shouldered by the member. Both give an entry point for those on a tight budget who need a way out of insurance rates. I didn’t find a lot of reviews about CHMinistries at all, good or bad. What I did find indicated that members are pretty happy, but that payment has sometimes been slower than they like. CHMinistries pays on a first come, first serve basis, so a backlog of bills to pay can develop, which led to members reporting they had waited 4-6 months for payment to arrive, but I don’t think that always happens. Christian Healthcare Ministries reports that most payments are within 90-120 days/3-4 months, with some reporting even longer than that (Samaritan is running about a couple month’s faster than that with payments in the 30-60 day/1-2 month timeframe). Faster payments matter to me. CHM also doesn’t cover alternative treatments, which is a bummer because there are some good ones out there. That concerned me regarding situations like cancer treatments; I have heard some non-traditional methods are quite effective. Other than that this appears to be another good option/alternative to health insurance.

I have heard from some reviews (and had confirmed in their guidelines, page 18 section M) that CHM requires you to apply for financial assistance first (such as low income programs) and participate in gov’t funded programs like medicaid and medicare, etc if you qualify. This bothers me, as I don’t want to rely on gov’t money, nor do I want to fill out financial hardship forms and I’ve heard too many stories of people having trouble finding doctors who take Medicaid patients. Samaritan does not require this. While I’m sure there are Samaritan members who choose to participate in those programs, and that’s totally fine, I do not wish to for our family.

Samaritan won out for us because of the direct sending of monthly money to members (more personal), the personal responsibility is less, the monthly share is comparable and reasonable, payments are fast, dental can be submitted as Special Prayer Needs, and some alternative treatments are shareable. Also I won’t be forced to apply for Medicaid should our income falter and have a need. The joy I read and heard from other Samaritan members was almost palpable, I desperately wanted to be part of that feeling. It’s also just so simple. In today’s crazy world something that works and is straight forward and uncomplicated means a lot. Pre-existing conditions didn’t matter for us, we don’t have any. For people who do, evaluate what your condition is. If it’s not been an issue and is considered over by your doctor, Samaritan has a better plan than CHMinistries. If you anticipate treatments in the next year for your condition is then CHMinistries may be a better choice for you. If you are already pregnant or want to get pregnant right away, definitely pick Samaritan at the classic level! 🙂 Because Christian Healthcare Ministries pools money at the office to send out to members for their bills, they have gotten in trouble with a couple of states because of acting too much like insurance without being subject to state regulations. I was concerned about any program I picked having legal headaches, so that also played a part in my choice. If Samaritan didn’t exist I would choose CHM, I think they have a solid program, they just don’t fit our family as well as Samaritan does.

Update: I reread the CHM guidelines again and was struck by the lack of sharing for any medical transport from a member’s emergency site to the hospital, even on the Gold plan. That means if someone has a heart attack at home they won’t publish the cost for the ambulance to get you. If you are in an accident where vehicles can’t reach (farmer/rancher), or can’t reach you fast enough and you need to be life flighted somewhere (open stretch of highway?), CHM doesn’t share in that cost. For silver and bronze members no medical transportation is shared at all. Some cities include fire dept paramedic help as part of their tax structure. But not everywhere. Where I live the ambulance is a paid service and it’s rather expensive. A one mile trip 10 years ago was $800 (thousands today I’m sure) and life flight services can run $35,000 and more (I heard of some being over $100,000). Definitely ask about medical transportation if you are considering CHM. Samaritan shares in those transport costs including for the examples posted above, which is a tremendous relief to me living in a rural area where travel distances can be significant, because the longer the trip the more it costs. Of course we cannot use the ambulance like a taxi, it must be medically necessary. 🙂

OUR SAMARITAN NEED EXPERIENCE

We experienced a surgical need while Samaritan members and found it to be a very simple, straightforward, rewarding experience (as much as any medical event can be). The big question is always, “will it work?” and I can honestly say, without any hesitation, YES IT DOES. We had 100% of the costs of my husband’s surgery shared by Samaritan members and all of it was received only 2 1/2 months after the surgery was performed (right on schedule). That is faster than any insurance payout we’ve had in the past, and the Samaritan staff was wonderful, as were the medical staff upon hearing that we are self pay and learning we are ministry members. You can read more about it in my blog posts (links at right), but overall the process demonstrated that need sharing is simple, the staff were supportive and we loved the cards and prayers from members, and we had the entire cost shared (we got an immediate 50% discount for being cash pay). The doctor was thrilled to be dealing only with his patient, and we received the best care from our preferred surgeon. This is how health care should be. Without question. If you are looking for something that better fits your family please give Samaritan a look. I think you’ll be thrilled with what you find. 🙂

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Comments (339)

I am looking into Samaritan Ministries after my Grandfathered BCBS policy will be canceled. I am 63 and my doctor say excellent health. About 14 months ago I woke up feeling odd and then went to my local emergency room. ER Doc wanted to check me out for possible TIA. After numerous head, neck and chest Cat Scans, and MRIs and Blood work
all test were normal. A follow up with my primary doctor resulted in directions for me to continue with my normal habits and that my odd feeling was not TIA related. Probably dehydration from exercise and not enough fluids. I had been with my previous insurance company for 25 years and I do not feel comfortable with Obamacare due to some of my beliefs. Will an emergency room visit where I was tested for TIA with negative results be classified
as a pre-existing condition?

Hi Don, I’m so glad to hear of good results from those tests! The answer would be no (not pre-existing), because the tests showed you didn’t have a TIA, plus it was over a year ago anyway. Samaritan is symptom driven, but your symptoms proved to be nothing of consequence, and it sounds like they’re over. Exercise induced dehydration is not a pre-existing condition. If something developed later your history would show all those tests were fine, indicating that it was a new development. This is another great aspect of Samaritan. They’re very logical and look for ways to help people, not deny them. Whenever there are questions Samaritan goes by what your doctor says. I absolutely love this ministry and how they help members. Thanks for asking. God bless!

Hi, I just had a question regarding Oral Surgery. I know both plans wouldn’t normally cover basic dental. But, what if you have to go to an Oral Surgeon to have impacted wisdom teeth removed? Would it be covered at all since it’s more of a surgery?

Thanks!

Hi JoLene, impacted wisdom tooth removal falls under the routine dental which is only shared as part of Samaritan’s Special Prayer Needs, unless it involved removal of the bone due to an infection that had spread. As there are circumstances when dental sharing is possible, those are detailed in the guidelines section VIII A.8.
Quote: “We share the treatment of the breaking or injury of natural teeth and caps (but not repairs to dentures or partial plates) by accidents (other than from dental care, when eating, and certain motor vehicle accidents) subject to the respective initial unshareable amounts of $300 for Samaritan Classic and $1,500 for Samaritan Basic, and the 90% sharing percentage for Samaritan Basic. We share non-routine dental treatments, such as any treatment that involves surgery on the bones (not teeth) in the mouth, including when surgery on the bones is a necessary part of otherwise routine dental work (not including the cost of implants) such as listed in paragraph c, after an unshared amount of 5 times the Samaritan Classic 3-person monthly share (5 x $495 = $2,475) for both Samaritan Basic and Samaritan Classic, and with the 90% sharing of the amount over $2,475 with Samaritan Basic. We do not share routine dental work such as (but not limited to): check-ups, cleanings (including deep cleanings), fillings, crowns, root canals, implants, removal of wisdom or infected teeth, dentures, bridges, anesthesia for routine dental care, or treatment of periodontal disease, except when these routine treatments are necessarily a part of surgery on the bones or other non-routine treatments.
So, for example, if you have an infected tooth removed, that will normally not be shareable. But if the infection went into the jaw bone and required removal of some of the bone, then the entire procedure would be shareable. Implants are not included because they always involve “surgery on the bone,” and there usually are less expensive alternatives.”

CHM doesn’t share dental needs at all, so I’m not sure they would share even that much, and I don’t think they’re shareable on their Prayer Page, either. Thanks for asking, hope you have a blessed day!

Ok, thank you for the information and quick response!

We’re 90% sure we’re going to switch myself as well as maybe the whole family to samaritan come January. I am trying to research as much as I possibly can to make a wise choice, and these are the only two statements that terrify me to take the leap.

Samaritan says: “Whether anyone chooses to send you money to assist you with your medical
bills will be totally voluntary. This publication should never be considered to be like an insurance
policy. Whether you receive any money for medical expenses, or whether or not this publication
continues to operate, you will always remain liable for any unpaid bills.
This is not a legally binding agreement to reimburse you for medical expenses you incur, but is an
opportunity for you to assist other Christians in need, and when you are in need, to present your
medical expenses to other Christians as outlined in these Guidelines. The monetary assistance you
may receive will come from other members, not from Samaritan Ministries International.”

This is from Christian Healthcare Ministries: “CHM does not guarantee or promise that your medical bills will be shared or assigned to others for financial gifts. Whether any CHM member chooses to share the burden of your medical bills will be entirely voluntary. As such, CHM should never be considered as a substitute for an insurance policy. Whether you receive any financial gifts for medical expenses and whether CHM continues to operate, you are always liable for any unpaid bills.”

Do you have any comforting words of wisdom regarding these statements?

Those do sound scary, but it’s a legal technicality. The ministries are legally required to provide those statements because they are not insurance. And technically it’s true, we are responsible for our bills, (but we were for the unpaid parts of insurance, too), and while the sharing of needs is voluntary, members have done it for decades so their own needs will be shared and so they can stay members. There’s a collective purpose shared by over 200,000 members and almost a million members across all the ministries. That’s huge. The ministries don’t give us contracts designed for their own profits, they give us guidelines and statements of faith. That very fact makes them better in my opinion. The insurance companies have a goal of profits with contracts written to protect themselves. Even getting obvious things covered many times meant a fight or at least big frustrations dealing with them. That’s not helpful and it’s all contract driven.

On the other hand, ministries have a goal of helping people (not profits) and Samaritan actively looks for ways to do so. When an organization makes decisions on that basis, instead of the basis of profit, it completely changes the picture and nature of the system. They offer “assurance”, not “insurance”. In a world that has watered down the word “promise” these ministries take it quite seriously and daily reflect God’s promise to us and offer us spiritual care and financial help for our bills as a collective of like minded members. Samaritan facilitated the sharing of over $25 million in needs last month. They’ve been around longer (20+ years) and are bigger (200,000+) than many insurance companies. The only money they collect is for administrative needs, everything else is directly shared member to member for absolute transparency. Members often say this is the only “bill” they look forward to and enjoy paying. They enjoy knowing they are directly helping another member. One to one, no corporate skimming off the top.

Protection for our family’s medical needs doesn’t come from a signed piece of paper, it comes from God. The ministries are a direct reflection of that. How many times do I read about people with insurance still owing tens of thousands of dollars and needing to file medical bankruptcy? What kind of protection did the insurance contract give then? I realized I had been putting my faith in the wrong system. Yet that idea was ingrained in me from birth, so the day I cancelled our insurance was rather anti-climactic because I’d kinda convinced myself I would be struck by lightning or something the instant I didn’t have insurance coverage. LOL, in fact, that was the moment I walked into complete peace about our family’s medical needs. Sure there were questions, but when we did finally have a need ourselves, it was 100% shared, and it was such a simple and compassionate process that I found heartwarming. Samaritan offers the professional and compassionate care I needed in a system that was completely broken. Their history and method of operation (and so many happy reviews) proved that my needs were on even more solid financial footing than corporate insurance could ever offer. Insurance premiums, deductibles and copays practically guaranteed financial ruin for us if something big happened (even if it didn’t). Samaritan, because of their purpose and the protection of Save to Share, meant we would have full support far beyond the thousands of dollars that many are typically left to pay on their own. How could I beat that? I feel more confident that Samaritan members will come through than I ever felt about insurance.

I also realize that no system is perfect and even the ministries with their Christ centered goals have limitations because money is finite. Not everything can be covered and members must bear some responsibilities for themselves (i.e.: checkups, pre-existings, long term meds). After reading the guidelines I decided those were acceptable things I could handle myself and the smaller things I could bear myself for the good of our family and the ministry as a whole. I was happy to do my part to stay healthy, fellowship with others in church, and find affordable health care (discounts) while at the same time not sacrificing any quality of care. Those limitations mean the ministries aren’t for everyone, but then insurance isn’t for everyone either. We must all find what we can afford that works for us.

Clearly I feel very strongly about this topic and my support for Samaritan and health care sharing is strong. I also feel it is realistic and the medical world is fraught with issues. That’s why I count on Samaritan and its members to help me navigate it with Christ as the foundation. For us there’s nothing better. 🙂

Very very well said. Thank you so much for your honest answer. You have been an incredible help in making our decision. We plan to move forward with Samaritan this upcoming year!

You are quite welcome. Let me be the first to say welcome to the Samaritan family! 🙂

Hi,

I am considering switching myself to CHM or Samaritans and coming off of my husbands insurance due to insane costs. We are planning to leave my three children on his plan for now just to test the waters as we’re a bit anxious to switch everyone all at once.

For CHM it looks like after you have paid for three $500 incidents within a year the next would be waived and covered. Is this the same for Samaritan’s?

So, if we had to go to the doctor three times, costing us the $300 or less fee, would the fourth and further be covered or is there no limit to how many times we could pay this $300 or less fee in a year?

Thanks in advance!

Hi Stacey. With Samaritan all needs have the $300 minimum personal responsibility amount including the 4th and after, but most of the time discounts are obtained and those reduce that amount first, dollar for dollar, so many members don’t even notice because they end up paying so little after discounts anyway. On CHM, a $400 need doesn’t get shared (wasn’t big enough) and also doesn’t count toward your $500/unit amount (wasn’t big enough to be submitted to count). That same $400 need would be shared with Samaritan, with $100 coming from members and $300 from you. If you get discounts it lowers your $300 portion, potentially to zero (CHM does the same thing, reducing your $500 portion, but it has to start higher to begin with). On the CHM Gold with 3 units the cost for the incidents have to be $200 higher to qualify for sharing than it would under Samaritan.
I think you’ll find that ministry membership will be great for the whole family, but I understand wanting to test the waters first, it is a step out in faith; a step that our family has found to be such a joy. Both ministries are very good, it’s a matter of which features fit you best. Samaritan’s PR amount and need sharing minimums are lower, and needs are paid faster. CHM Gold fixes the incident max at $500 per unit (3 for a family), but receiving money takes longer and some things aren’t shareable (alternative medicine, initial ambulance ride, chiropractic). If we did have medical events, we’d need to have 5 of them at only $300 with no discounts on Samaritan to equal the same out of pocket cost as three $500 needs on CHM. For our family three needs or even 5 per year would be a LOT. So the out of pocket risk for us seems less with Samaritan. Neither ministry shares costs for checkups, so depending on the ages of your children be sure to factor in that cost once you have them join. Immunizations are usually obtainable for very cheap (or free) at your local county clinic. Around here it’s a recommended donation of $10/shot for those without insurance plans, which is extremely affordable. Good luck with your decision and let me know if you have other questions. God bless.

It’s incredible how quickly you respond and how thorough you are. I believe at the end of the day we are planning to go with Samaritan based on the length of time for reimbursement, medical transport reimbursement, lack of need to sign up for government health assistance, and alternative medicine coverage. I am still hoping to check to make sure we can use most of our current doctors for our children and for myself and the pregnancy coverage. Can you speak to that? It really does seem like a great plan for our entire family, and I suppose given the information laid out there shouldn’t be much fear in choosing to put us all on the plan at once. If for some reason we were not happy (which really does not seem to be a common occurrence), I am unsure what our companies policy is for letting us back on their policy – which I need to check into as well. Thanks again for all of your information – it is incredibly encouraging and helpful. God bless!

Glad it’s helpful. 🙂 You can use ALL your current doctors! Samaritan or CHM membership means you’re seen as self/cash pay to your doctors. You’d want to find out what their cash pay policies are, and what their standard cash discounts are. As members we are free to pick own doctors, you go where you need to for the care you require (so awesome, especially when traveling and you really don’t have time to care about networks). It’s not a network like with insurance, it just comes down to their policies on cash pay and whether you’re ok with the pricing. Cash customers aren’t unusual to most providers, although they aren’t the most common so you may have to ask more than once depending on the size of the facility. Most clinics have a flat discount for cash and want payment same day for standard visits. For bigger items at hospitals a small amount up front is often requested, the rest put on a payment plan, but it will vary from place to place. Check your local clinic and hospital policies on those (may even be listed on their websites). On Samaritan any pregnancy expenses you know in advance (assuming you aren’t pregnant already) can be shared before the birth so that part could be all paid off before a baby is even born (many offices have fixed package pricing for the maternity visits, then bill the birth portion afterwards). Being in a ministry means a different mindset to medical care. We’re back in charge. We say which doctor, which tests, we and the doctor make the decisions together, and we see all the bills to submit for sharing. Getting back on the company insurance will have time restrictions, you’ll probably be limited to the open enrollment dates of Nov 1-Dec 15 this year for getting on or off a company plan. Ministries can be joined or cancelled anytime, but the insurance side is much stricter. Also, give Samaritan a call and speak with them for any particular processes you aren’t sure of to hear it direct from them. They are so friendly and helpful!! Tell ’em I sent ya, I’ve talked to them many times. 🙂 Also, go through the blog section called “self pay resources” linked on the right side menu, it gives a few more tips on being self pay as a ministry member. It’s different, but so much better! God bless.

Thank you so much for this site! I pray that it is useful and helps people find good health insurances alternatives!

Thanks for this website. The info is invaluable. You just don’t know what a blessing it is.

I’m leaning towards CHM for various reasons, but still have some questions. Five years ago diverticulitis hit me and I was on antibiotics. Then, a year later, it hit again, more antibiotics. Its been over two years now since Ive been to the doctor for it. But now I rightly suspect I have serious prostate issues. I haven’t been to see doc yet because I don’t have insurance. I want to sign up for CHM but am afraid it wont work out if I have some bad news within 1-2 weeks of signing up. Based on your research and experience do you think I should go with CHM/brothers keeper. Thanks and bless you.

Hello and thanks for writing. You have a couple of issues to consider. The diverticulitis would likely be seen as pre-existing (PEC) with CHM since they have a 3 year lookback period before it falls out of pre-existing status. Samaritan likely wouldn’t see it as a PEC anymore as that condition likely falls in the 1 year timeframe with no symptoms/meds/treatments (and it seems you’ve already gone over 2 years).

The prostate issue would likely be seen as PEC by all ministries because you’re already having symptoms, so full sharing likely isn’t possible for that, but the voluntary donation programs (CHM Prayer Page or Samaritan’s Special Prayer Needs) would be. It may not be anything serious. But if it is, then CHM wouldn’t start the clock on the 3 year PEC timeline for partial sharing yet, that only starts once it’s in maintenance mode (only works with Gold plan). So if you get it checked and it’s a quick/easy fix, then the clock would start as soon as that’s done. Doesn’t have to be anything major or time consuming and I pray that it’s not. 🙂 So expenses for treating it would likely be submitted to CHM’s prayer page as a pre-existing condition. You would get the benefit of cash pay discounts, which can help a lot, plus the help from the prayer page donations. Definitely yes, if you join CHM, also join brother’s keeper. Having essentially that unlimited sharing for any other issues is crucial. Their $125,000 limit is too low otherwise. I’ve seen more than one recent review that CHM’s payments are lagging at about 4-5 months. That’s pretty late for my taste, and would feel like a long time to creditors. Samaritan’s sharing schedule is much faster (our need with Samaritan was shared 100% in just 2 months), but with the PECs that may not matter to you unless an unrelated issue comes up in the future.

Overall, definitely (please) go get that prostate checked. Cash pay discounts will help you and you should ask about making payments on anything beyond costs for a checkup. If it’s fairly easy then CHM’s step up PEC plan will make you wait a bit longer than Samaritan’s would, but with CHM you would get a tiny amount each of the first 3 years to help offset any costs. It’s not a lot, but it’s something if an issue comes back in that 3 years. Both ministries are nice to work with. Ministry prayers and support can be so healing, beyond the financial aspect. So even if your need isn’t fully shareable except on the donation Prayer Page, you would get the incredible benefit of prayers, ministry guidance and probably at least some financial help from voluntary donations. Prayer page and Special Prayer Need contributions are better than nothing and are often very good, although amounts can’t be guaranteed. Those on top of cash discounts could make your out of pocket expenses much lower than you’re anticipating. God bless and I pray you are given good news.

If a lady has had precancer cells at 21 and had them removed and had good paps since…. would they consider that preexisting at 31???? now lets say this 31 year old hasnt had a pap in about 2 years and having ovary pain now would they consider that existing???? when it says incident does that mean every single doctors visit???

Hello! You’ll want to confirm the details with Samaritan, but I suspect the the pre-cancer cell issue is no longer pre-existing. Sounds like it’s long over and done. Even then, it would only be in PEC status for a year, it wasn’t actually cancer. But after 10 years, no big deal. The ovary pain might be considered pre-existing, as it is a symptom and Samaritan is symptom driven. But I also know that women can have regular ovary pain monthly so probably it would only be seen as a true pre-existing symptom if it’s out of the ordinary. See what they think.
An incident is an overall issue/event/situation. So if you broke your leg, that’s the incident, and the doctor visits, meds, tests, xrays, etc would all count toward that one incident. The followup checkup when it’s healed is not part of the incident as it’s a checkup. But everything else needed to treat it/heal it is shareable. Some incidents last a while and have many doctor visits. Others are just one visit. It just depends on what is needed to complete the treatment for healing. Thanks for asking! God bless.

Thank you so much for all the great info! I am looking into moving to one of these sharing plans. I do have a question – and I apologize if you have already covered it and I just missed it….
I really like the idea of sending your monthly payment to a person in needed along with prayer and a note – but how does Samaritan track who has paid and who has not? It does not seem like the ‘sick’ member should have keep track.
thank you again! these comments of been very helpful!
God bless!

Hi Wanda! Samaritan sends a list to the member on the receiving end so they know exactly how much is coming and from whom. The list is in our online account, and one is mailed to us (for those not into the online thing). Samaritan has the receiver confirm that money arrived, so as money comes in we just mark off that it was received and at the end of the month Samaritan then knows if anything happens to be outstanding so they can contact that sender. It’s actually very fast and pretty standard record keeping. The person who sent it can also mark their online account that payment has been sent, but the receiver is asked to notify Samaritan also (in case lost in mail, etc). For most needs this isn’t a very big deal, as most people only need a handful of checks to completely cover the need. For really large needs it would be more to keep track of, just like there are more bills to keep track of. It’s a very simple checklist, we just mark them off one at a time before depositing in the bank and then either mail that list back to Samaritan at the end of the month or mark it through the online account and Samaritan knows instantly from that. 🙂 I found the process pretty enjoyable, and really appreciated seeing the list so I knew exactly what to expect when we had my husband’s surgical need. Overall it was quite a refreshing way to have a medical need paid for. No battles with insurance or scary copays. Just prayers, money and cards from other members who helped us pay our need 100%. Reading the notes was a joy. 🙂 We don’t want to have a need, but if it happens, it really is so nice to have the process work this way. God bless!

How does Samaritan handle a child on Medicaid? We just had a baby 6 months ago and right now we are all on my insurance through work which is extremely expensive. It also has a very high deductible of $6,000! Through the grace of God, all of my daughter’s expensive medical costs are covered under her secondary insurance (Medicaid). Do Samaritan and Medicaid work in the same way? Or does the Medicaid get voided because the primary (Samaritan) is not really insurance?

Hi Pete
Samaritan is second payer to any other responsible party. So all bills would run through Medicaid first, and then Samaritan would share any qualifying costs left over that medicaid didn’t cover. There are members who have medicaid and medicare and it works just fine. 🙂 Medicaid would become primary for her at that point. From Medicaid’s perspective she would not have a secondary policy, since Samaritan isn’t insurance. Thanks for asking!

I’m trying to decide between CHM and liberty. I am having my first baby soon( w private insurance that will be ending soon) liberty say they cover vaccines but CHM maternity polices seem great for when we are ready for the next baby! I also have seeen some not so great reviews for liberty recentally. What’s everyone’s experience??

Hi Allie, you can often find very reduced price immunizations for those without insurance at your local clinic or county health center. Call your clinic to find out where those are and what the cash pricing is. In my area it’s on a donation basis, recommended $10 per shot which is pretty affordable I think. God bless!

I am undergoing natural treatments for cancer. One of the contributing factors to my cancers are mercury fillings which I am having removed. Can I turn these procedures in for reimbursement?

Thanks.

Duane

Hello Duane. My prayers to you as you undergo those cancer treatments. I assume you are referring to dental fillings, the cost for which is generally not shareable as part of the regular program (dealing with filling would be part of general dental care that isn’t shareable), but those usually can be as a special prayer need. Special prayer needs are voluntary giving so there’s no way to know exactly how much you might receive. If you are already a Samaritan member then the cost for your cancer treatments may be shareable depending on if you were a member when the cancer started, but if not yet a member then those costs would also be as special prayer need as it would be seen as a pre-existing condition. There are certainly nuances to your situation that only you would know, so please give Samaritan a call as they would know best which natural treatments are shareable as a member. God bless you in your journey.

Would cataract surgery be covered? How about glasses?

Yes, cataract surgery is shareable (standard pre-existing rules apply), but glasses fall under routine vision which isn’t shared. The guidelines state the following for vision related issues: “Expenses related to cataracts, glaucoma, and other diseases or injury (including cornea replacement due to disease or injury) are publishable. Vision therapy is publishable, and outpatient therapy will be included in the 40 total outpatient therapy sessions allowed for any particular need. See Section VIII.B.36. Routine and corrective optometric services, exams, or tests, including eyeglasses, contacts, eye refraction, LASIK surgery, cornea replacement, surgery, or other services when done primarily for corrective or cosmetic reasons unrelated to disease or injury are not publishable.”
Edit: We just got glasses for a very complex prescription and paid a LOT less by getting them online through zennioptical.com I was nervous it would be a waste of money, but they came out perfect. It was a 75% savings on this pair, and if I get a pair in the future it will be a 90% savings since my script is less complex than my husband’s. Highly recommend zenni for glasses.

I have an eye disease (Uveitis) that is in maintenance mode, so I go 2x per year for a check up and adjust to medications. Another flare up is always a possibility in which case I would begin actively treating it again and seeing the Dr. more frequently. I have a cataracts forming, so surgery is certainly down the road, and as a result of the disease have some damage to my retina and have active glaucoma. Take a handful of drops/ pills. How much of that would be covered or considered pre-existing?

Hi Beth. My understanding is that all of it would be in pre-existing status as they are either being treated, or are actively producing symptoms or require medication. Issues can fall out of PEC status if you go a year with no symptoms, meds or treatments. Long term meds and checkups we cover on our own anyway. In case there’s a nuance to your situation where something wouldn’t be in the symptom/med/treatment stage then you’d want to run that by Samaritan directly to see if it meets that qualification. Thanks for asking and God bless.

I’ve read a lot of your posts above. I have been with CHM for about three years. I have the gold plan, single unit ($150 a month). I’ve had two claims in the past, both of which have been covered. I have a third claim currently and my biggest complaint is the time it takes to have something processed and paid. I had a covered surgery in mid December 2016. As of May 21, 2017, I still have not received payment from CHM. Not only the time to receive shared amounts seems rediculous, (same experience with the other two, I was told the issue was ACA bringing in so many new people that they were slammed with processing everybody) at any rate, they don’t pay unless you are an active member when they get around to finally processing the need. I became employed in January and now have insurance through my employer that I pay a part of, but have to also pay CHM or forfeit my costs from the December surgery. Just thought I’d share.

Hi Mark, thanks for sharing your experience. In addition to being busy (all the ministries had a big influx of members recently), CHM’s payment timeline tends to run a bit slower anyway because of paying first-come first-serve, thus backlogs can develop if funding is short for a bit. I would agree that 5 month wait time is frustrating, especially as you’re effectively paying double premiums right now, but I’m sure your payment will be coming soon. God bless!

This site is great! I just lost my job and I am looking for coverage. I never heard of CHM or Samaritan! Its really awesome that a Christian Biblical approach exists! I just came another one called Medi-share, by any chance have you done a comparison on that one?

Hello Dee, I’m glad the site is helpful. I do have a comparison page for medishare here: http://samaritanministriesreview.com/samaritan-ministries-vs-medi-share/ My family has been very happy Samaritan members for 3 1/2 yrs now, and have submitted a need (surgery) and it was 100% shared/paid for. I hope you’ll find that health sharing ministries are a wonderful option. We pay our preventative and small things ourselves, bigger things over $300 are shared. Look around the site and feel free to ask any more questions you have. God bless.

Hi,
In the case someone has signed up and had a major incident happen, I’ll give you an example. My father passed several years ago and fought a hard fight with Cancer for two years. His medical expenses were over 2.5 million dollars. Thank God my parents had all of those bills covered because they had picked up a supplemental policy thru Mutual of Omaha (because they were over 65 and needed a supplement since Medicare only covers 80%) and they never paid a dime out of pocket. What would happen with SM members who had this similar situation and let’s say had a couple million dollars of bills? Does that get covered?

Hi Jason. First, I’m so sorry to hear about your father and his cancer battle. To answer your question, yes, the really big bills get covered as long as the member is part of Save to Share, which is Samaritan’s low cost add-on program specifically for sharing those big needs that go above $250,000 (I highly recommend it). Save to share basically asks us to put aside a set amount ($399 for family rate, $266 for couples, $133 for singles) in savings and have it ready in case someone has a bigger need and Samaritan then tells us where to send some of it. We get to keep the money in savings until it’s asked for. For example last month we were asked to send an extra $21 to cover one of those bigger needs. Sometimes it’s been $14, or 47 cents, or nothing. Just depends on that month’s needs. It comes from that savings we set back so it’s not a budgetary burden. It gives us peace of mind that even the huge needs will be shared, with no caps (unlimited) and there are millions upon millions waiting in member savings accounts to cover just those types of things. Major accidents, heart issues, cancers; all can run over $250,000 and Samaritan members come through. Samaritan’s largest to date that I’ve heard of was $1.5 million. The hospital discounted it down to $700,000 and it was all shared because the member was part of save to share. The other interesting piece is that a 2 year battle with cancer would be seen as one need. There’s no rollover deductible at the start of a new year, it’s all just one big long event, all fully shared by Samaritan members. I’ve seen several testimonies of members who had just that kind of thing happen and all were shared completely.

Thanks so much for the clear and concise information.

Do you know how chm does verify regular church attendance if they don’t require a letter for application for per need? I’m a Christian but not one big on organized services.

Hi Jill. I’m sorry, I don’t know the answer to that one. It may be entirely by trust. I’m sure someone there could help with that if you call them. 🙂 God bless.

My questions deals with how the Christian Sharing Ministries qualify potential members based on the church they attend. Is acceptance of new members at all determined on the criteria of what church they belong to? Does it need to be an evangelical Protestant church or do the organizations accept members from all Christian churches, whether Protestant, Orthodox, or Catholic churches?

Hi Alex. In Samaritan’s case, members must be Christians and agree with Samaritan’s statement of faith and not have that statement violate any tenets of their beliefs. Samaritan has members across a variety of denominations including Catholics, Protestant, Mennonite, etc. I know not all Catholics are able to agree with the statement of faith so it is a very personal decision for the member (for example belief in the Trinity). Catholics also have an option of joining CMF-CURO, which is basically a section of Samaritan specific for Catholics, yet is its own separate ministry. Hope that helps.

Since a health share plan is not technically insurance, are the payments to the recipient considered taxable income ?

Hi Julie. The money received to pay for our medical needs is not taxable. They are considered gifts and are tax free. I have more tax information available here: http://samaritanministriesreview.com/tax-details/ Thanks for asking! 🙂

So basically it’s like major medical.

Hi Crystal. The major medical plans I’m familiar with had really high deductibles, in the $10,000-$100,000 range. Samaritan’s sharing starts at $300 on a need, which is a LOT less. It’s similar to major medical in that we cover our own checkups, but major medical wouldn’t pay for an ER visit until you’d hit that high deductible whereas Samaritan starts sharing once any need crosses $300. Also, major medical wouldn’t reduce that deductible, and Samaritan will reduce that $300 amount down to zero if we get discounts on the bill. 🙂 The differences are pretty significant once you factor in the out of pocket numbers. 🙂

Hi, Heather: I’ve spent hours going between CHM and Samaritan, and would you please tell me if I’ve got this right: For a single person the monthly cost is $150 (gold plan CHM) versus $22O (Samaritan). (I would plan to add the catastrophic element in either case.) I don’t need the pregnancy edge of Samaritan, but the possibility that CHM would force me through application to govt welfare programs is negative… But Samaritan seems a lot more expensive for a single. Thank you for any clarity you can add to your so helpful website.

Hi Patricia. You are correct, Samaritan is more expensive for singles. (We’ve had a lot of share reductions lately, but that won’t always be the case). Getting the catastrophic option makes the base sharing level irrelevant as you’d have unlimited sharing either way. For those who don’t the extra Samaritan cost gets them a lot higher regular sharing level.
You would also need to consider whether these things have importance to you;
1. CHM doesn’t provide transportation cost support from the site of the incident to the hospital (Samaritan does), so in the event there’s a need (wreck, heart attack, injury, etc), you may also have very high ambulance/air transport costs to deal with (a local ambulance membership may help if available, but wouldn’t work outside their territory/aka when traveling, and it adds to your costs). They do share transport costs between hospitals, but not the cost of getting you to one in the first place. Those can cost many thousands.
2. Samaritan shares needs faster. From the time of bill submission need sharing runs 1-2 months with Samaritan, 3-4 months with CHM. My husband had surgery 2 months and 1 day ago. His need is already being shared (I’ll be posting pictures later). That means a LOT to me.
3. The CHM gov’t issue is still tricky, and not a guaranteed problem. Their guidelines clearly state it’s required, but members have posted here that they weren’t required and the need was shared. That leads me to believe it’s potentially income dependent whether they even discuss it. Either way it’s murky (which I don’t like), and may not be an issue in all cases. For those who are asked to apply, that adds time delays to processing and a lot of paperwork. For those who aren’t required to apply it’s a non-issue. I consider it a roll of the dice at this point, but can’t ignore their guidelines.
CHM has a good program. Since the points above matter to me I think Samaritan is better for us, but that’s certainly not true for everyone. If you are ok with the main points I listed then you’d save by going with them.
I hope that helps with your decision. I know I’m very very happy as a Samaritan member. Their need support, bill submission process and overall customer service are outstanding. Overall I’m so glad you’re looking at these ministries. The breath of fresh air they provide to health care is nothing short of astonishing. Wish I had known about this sooner. God bless!

Hi Heather!
Sorry I can’t find or figure out how to start my own thread/question, so i’m tagging on to this one!
My wife is 10 years older than me and just turned 65 so she is retiring and she was the one providing my health insurance through her job. I’m self-employed and so stuck with Obamacare high rates as my only option. But I’ve been reading all about the Christian health sharing options and am really excited as I am a dedicated Christian and like the model (though a little scary to present myself as “cash pay” or “self pay” as I’ve never done that before.
My biggest concern though, like many people, is about pre-existing conditions. Thankfully, overall I’m pretty healthy for 54 years old with only occasional sinus infections/bronchitis that antibiotics knocks out. But last March 2016 I experienced an emergency situation where I was completely unable to urinate and had to go in to the ER, get catheterized, eventually saw a urologist and he did a scope procedure in my urethra and bladder (did in a surgical facility outpatient because I was too squeamish and pain-avoidant to do in his office awake with minimal pain options), this led to him saying I needed a TransUrethral Resection of the Prostate (TURP) to treat my prostatitis symptoms ( I had already been taking meds from my primary doc for enlarged prostate symptoms. While in there he also said I had something where my bladder had something similar to a much older person (can’t remember the name of it) that may have contributed to my ER problem. The scope procedure or the TURP procedure also caused a small injury to the urethral wall which later caused a stricture (usually from scar tissue) and because of the narrowed urethra and some symptoms in urinating that caused, I underwent another short procedure (again in outpatient surgical facility to avoid the pain of doing it in office) to widen the urethra. All three procedures within three months, the last one in June 2016. I saw the doctor again in September or October 2016 just because I was worried because one week my urine stream seemed a little narrow and I was worried the stricture was worse again. He said I probably did need to go thru the widening procedure again, but I prayed to God for healing and, while the stricture (small obstruction/scar tissue) may still be there, I have had no symptoms or problems that needed treatment or medication and I told the doctor I’m urinating fine with no pain or other problems and it doesn’t seem like the widening procedure is necessary at this time. He agreed. So, sorry for all the detail but I’m just not sure which medical problem is considered a pre-existing condition or whether there is more than one condition and each one is treated as pre-existing with a different timeline. For example, the original symptoms i had due to prostatitis (weak, slow, intermittent stream, need to go frequently, etc,,) went away after the TURP procedure in May 2016 and so I have had none of those symptoms now for almost a year. However, the stricture was a different issue that came about while treating the other issue and it was treated and i really haven;t had any issues with it for at least 6-7 months. But I believe a stricture cannot really be “cured” and is always “there” even though I’m not really experiencing symptoms. So, I guess I’m confused about how Samaritan would view these conditions and that is what is making it hard for me to decide between them and CHM which is more liberal about pre-existing.

Hi David. Starting a new comment requires scrolling all the way to the bottom of the page. 🙂 It’s a long way down! OK, The older issue that was fixed with the surgery really isn’t a concern as you’re maybe a week away from the 1 year mark on that, and since it was fixed I’m not sure even the week would count. The other one would probably be seen as pre-existing with the clock starting 6-7 months ago. So worst case there’d be 5-6 months to wait before it falls out of pre-existing status. There are several things that can’t really be “cured”, but if you go without symptoms, treatments and meds for a year then it doesn’t count as a PEC anymore. I would want you to confirm that with Samaritan, but that’s how I see it. Now, if I’m right, and if you feel your risk is low, then Samaritan would probably be your best choice because waiting 5-6 months to drop out of PEC is much quicker than CHM’s step up plan of 3 years before out of PEC (and would still have the option of Samaritan’s special prayer need), plus the cycle would start over if something happened. You are currently in maintenance so you would qualify for CHM’s PEC plan right away, but it’s still a longer wait to complete the timeline.
Presenting yourself as cash pay is unnerving the first time, but I’ve always found it to be a bigger deal in my head than it was in real life. Not everyone has insurance. We aren’t the first people to say that to them. 🙂 We may be the first to tell them about a health sharing ministry membership, but even that is becoming fairly well known and/or something they’ve heard of and worked with before. Call your local places as part of your research and ask them what their cash pay rates/discounts are. It will help you navigate both the decision to join a ministry and a medical event should one ever come up. When comparing the ministries don’t forget to look at the other differences to see if anything would matter to you. I pray you remain symptom free with the stricture and that you are able to find peace in whichever ministry you join. God bless!

What happens if another members check bounces that you receive for an incident over $300?

Hi Jared. That really doesn’t happen very often, in fact I’ve never heard of it. 🙂 But if it did happen you would report it to Samaritan and they would either reassign that payment to someone else, or the original sender would resend, depending on the situation. Either way it will be rectified and the member gets the necessary funds. Members take their share assignments very seriously, which is why those kinds of things are so rare. It’s not just another bill to most of them, it’s a direct action of the body of Christ. Thanks for asking! 🙂

I have a small business (just me, ran from my home). Because we are not offered health insurance from an employer we are able to deduct our premiums. However, due to the HUGE jump in premiums this year we are likely not able to afford a policy that will benefit us in any way.

Because the monthly funds are sent directly to the recipients, how is this all tracked? Is there a monthly or yearly statement sent out that provides proof of premiums paid? This is a huge help to us at tax time and is possible a deal breaker if there is no way for it to be accounted for.

Also, with the monies just being mailed directly to the recipients, how does the IRS consider these payments? IF you did have a large medical bill- say for cancer and you received $30,000 in checks from random members would they consider this income and therefore be able to tax you on it?

Hi Cindy. The good news is that money we receive from members for our needs is not taxed as income. By the same token, I’ve been told (and found online) that we also cannot deduct those corresponding medical expenses because we are reimbursed for them. The bad news is that what we pay in monthly shares is not tax deductible (special prayer need contributions ARE deductible if you send them to Samaritan to process). This is true no matter which ministry you might join. They aren’t premiums, and currently only insurance premiums can be deducted. The state of Missouri allows monthly shares to be deducted on their state taxes, but they’re the only ones. There are no other state or federal deductions currently allowed. That may change in the future, but it’s not there yet. This fact does affect the accounting when considering whether a ministry or insurance is more cost effective. Our family also has small businesses, and even without the deduction Samaritan’s monthly share is low enough that we still save thousands every year. Not to mention the blessing of avoiding a huge deductible. If it ever does become allowed, Samaritan’s online account area shows the history of shares paid. With the new administration in DC, I’m curious how/if any of those laws will change in the future. Anything is possible. I have more tax information available on this page: http://samaritanministriesreview.com/tax-details/ God bless!

We’ve been trying to decide between CHM and Samaritan for the last few days, researching each and reading guidelines. At first I was drawn to Samaritan because of CHM not sharing emergency transportation costs but then learned that we could purchase life flight insurance through separate company if we wanted. I also started signing up for Samaritan and then reread the maternity coverage. Am I reading correctly that they do not share mother’s labs, sonograms, anesthesia (found under the early publication section) OR is it just saying that those specific items are not allowed to be published early whereas the hospital and doc bill can? Thanks for any clarity you can give! It’s been difficult to decide especially since Samaritan is $140 more per month for our situation.

Hi Natalie, Samaritan shares all maternity related lab, sonogram, etc bills for pregnancies that happen after joining. That part of the guidelines is just stating that some bills maternity related bills can’t be shared early, but the rest can. $140 a month is pretty big difference. You’re right that the transportation cost issue could become a problem. Having the separate life flight membership is a good idea, but there can be complications with that also if you’re in a location where that service doesn’t reach, or if there are competing services and the emergency teams call the wrong one. The biggest hurdle may be when traveling. Both are good programs. Good luck with your decision and I hope you have a happy new year! 🙂

This information is extremely helpful…thank you for putting so much effort into providing this! Do you have any information on Altrua Healthshare? When our insurance premiums doubled, our insurance agent recommended Altrua. Thank you!

Hi Mark! I haven’t done much research into altrua, mostly because it wasn’t ACA exempt when we were looking for ourselves years ago. From the brief study I did of their terms today it looks like it costs about the same as Samaritan, but has less “coverage” for need sharing. There are more fixed limits on maternity cost sharing, and the amount owed by the member for ongoing needs is higher based on their percentage system. Their website says they are ACA exempt which is a critical piece in my opinion. I don’t know what the agent uses to make his recommendation, whether it’s personal or friend experience or not. The reason for the recommendation may help make part of your decision. Sorry I can’t be more help at this time.

thank you for this wonderful website and comparison. It helped us a great deal when recently deciding to ditch traditional insurance and pick a christian sharing plan. I signed up for samaritan tonight and gave your name as a referal.

Hi Kim, you are very welcome! Thank you for the referral. I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas! Welcome to the Samaritan family! 🙂

My husband and I currently have Medi-share and are considering switching to CHM or Samaritan. If I understand you correctly, with Samaritan, you don’t pay your monthly share to Samaritan but to an individual/family that has shared a need? This seems rather odd to me. How do you determine who to send the check too? I write very few checks anymore and do 99% of my bill paying online. Is there a way to do that with Samaritan?

Hi Anita. Yes, members send their shares direct to the family who needs them. We pray for that person and send a personal note along with it. It was set up this way to allows for a more personal experience with need sharing. Samaritan coordinates the entire process and sends us a customized share slip each month telling us which family we send our money to (just one per month) and what it’s for (a quick blurb like “johnny broke his leg” or “Sally had cancer”). Currently we do all need sharing through postal mail, but Samaritan is working on a way to move that online, I just don’t know when it will be ready or how far they are in that process. Our online accounts let us see the newsletters, start needs, submit bills for needs, and update our need checklist, but actual payments still go through the mail for now. I really like the personal touch of sending my check to a family, because then I know exactly where it’s going and what it’s for. One check per year is sent to the main office for administrative use, the other 11 go direct to families. I do a lot of my payments online, also, but this one I enjoy writing out. I’m guessing I’ll switch to the online method when it becomes available, but I’m not sure how soon as I rather enjoy writing out the note and sending my check. 🙂 Thanks for asking, Merry Christmas!

You could always still send a personal note by postal service if payments start to be allowed to be done online.

We’re having a hard time finding any reasonable insurance on or off the marketplace so have started looking into Christian insurance sharing programs. Unfortunately, I am already 5 1/2 months pregnant and wasn’t expecting our current insurance plan to be unavailable in 2017. Is anything covered for maternity costs with Samaritan since I’m past your time frame (and of course all the other Christian medical sharing companies I’ve looked into)?

Hi Bekka. To my knowledge, Samaritan is the only sharing ministry which will share any costs associated with an existing pregnancy, and it’s done as part of their Special Prayer Need program. That means the costs are submitted to the members for voluntary contributions instead of required sharing as part of the regular membership. Members do contribute to special prayer needs, and I think the ones related to new babies tend to get quite a few donations, but there’s no way to know for sure what you might get since it’s all voluntary. If you choose to remain without insurance through the birth that would make you a self pay patient and you would likely get a lot of discounts on the costs. Cash pay is often given quite a good discount. I would recommend calling the doctor and hospital to see what they charge for self pay under these circumstances. You may find that the final costs aren’t too high (assuming a normal birth) and if you choose to join Samaritan you could then submit those smaller charges to Samaritan as an SPN for additional help. Anything is better than nothing, right? 🙂 You could also look into other options like a birthing facility and/or midwife to save costs, or even a home birth. It would be hard for me to personally switch gears like that during a pregnancy, but I’m guessing some women have done it. You are in a tough spot, but I have been very happily surprised at some of the discounts people get for being self pay, and you may find that the financial situation isn’t nearly as dire as you first thought. God Bless you and your baby. I pray for a healthy birth and a lifetime of God’s provision for your family.

So I am finally trying to deal with the $100/mo hike on my already too expensive high deductible that the insurance company gave me for next yr. My pastor suggested Christian healthcare alternatives, which I had already thought of. First, thanks for your site. God bless you for not bashing the competitor and just fairly assessing everything you can. You must be a follower of Jesus 🙂
1. I called Samaritan and now having read your excellent comparison am confused as to whether my pre-existing condition of retinal lattice degeneration would ever be able to drop off. The Samaritan phone help didn’t clarify things very well. So I have a condition. It’s checked every two years. I haven’t had any deterioration or need for retinal repair for several years – so does that mean that I can “drop off” of pre-existing after a year or does that mean i can never drop off?
2. Do you happen to know if CMH covers international healthcare? I am transitioning from the practice of law to the mission field and it would be great to not have to change companies once I go abroad if God continues to open the doors that way. (My assumption is that Samaritan does not and would not qualify for adequate coverage on a visa app. CMH may not either)
3. I may have missed any comments you made on HSA’s. I understand from Samaritan that you cannot continue to contribute to the account but you also do not have to withdraw your account. Do you know if CMH has a similar policy?
4. How does the CMH Medicaid application requirement work? Can I simply one time apply for Medicaid and be denied, and maybe even do that once a year, or do I have to do it for every bill/incident? (Note: I don’t have many incidents – part of the reason I want to switch)
Also, thanks again for your responses above. Amazingly thorough.

Hi Mark. Thanks for writing. It is my understanding that CHM does share medical needs for missionaries. I don’t know their particular rules or processes, but I’d suspect they are similar to Samaritan in that bills must be translated into English and US dollars for sharing. CHM doesn’t share international transport back to the US, which is very expensive so you’d want another policy for something like that, but all their other guidelines and rules would likely apply the same way. I don’t know if healthcare sharing ministries qualify on Visa Apps, but I know Samaritan has a lot of missionary members, so it must be ok for a lot of them. Perhaps each country has their own rules? As for HSA’s, all sharing ministries follow the same set of rules regarding their use. Contributions are not tax-free (and may have to be stopped entirely, but the HSA administrator would know for sure), but it appears to be allowed for you to withdrawal from them (existing balance only) as a ministry member. The rules for those aren’t dictated by the ministries, those are managed by the bank or HSA administrators themselves, governed by federal law as I understand it. The bill going through congress could change that to allow members to use their HSAs in conjunction with their membership, but it hasn’t been voted on yet. I’m hopeful that something will be done on that soon, but the new federal administration may have other ideas.
The CHM medicaid policy has always been fuzzy as I get slightly different versions from members and the ministry itself. It sounds like probably you are only required to do that if your income qualifies you (as some members said they had no idea, so maybe their income disqualified them right away), but I read the guidelines as though it has to be done with each need because the apps would also determine if you qualify for charity aid through the hospital and checking for that each time is required. As some people have fluctuating incomes I could see where applying on a per need basis would be logical even if turned down previously and that’s how I interpret their guidelines. CHM would know for sure if you give them a call.
As for your pre-existing condition, I don’t work at Samaritan to say definitively, but the standard rule is that it has to be symptom, medication and treatment free for 12 months (unless a heart or cancer issue) before falling out of pre-existing. As you sound like you’re in a static mode (no treatments/meds/symptoms) on that issue, I would think it’s no longer a PEC from a sharing standpoint, but since I could be wrong then CHM’s PEC step up plan may be more clear cut for you (you would want to see if their max sharing for each year would be enough). The checkups every 2 years are on your own, but that’s the only thing I know 100% in this case. If you felt more strongly about Samaritan then I would call back and present a couple scenarios about what needs could arise in the future from that condition and see where it leads you for an answer. If it was me I think I would ask if they’ve seen a need with that condition come through before, and how was it handled. Wish I could be more help on that one, but I must defer to them as I am merely a grateful and enthusiastic member and not an employee. 🙂 God bless you in your search and your future mission work.

As a current CHM member I would like to add a point of clarity that I feel really needs to be addressed. CHM does not require members to apply for Medicaid if they don’t want to. At no point in the needs sharing process, nor when I received the funds to cover my bills, have I ever been required to apply for govt assistance or show proof that I did or anything like that. CHM simply requires members who already have other options in place (Medicaid, VA, actual insurance policies, etc) to exhaust those options first. If you don’t have Medicaid–even if you would qualify–so be it. Nobody at CHM is doing background checks to find out who qualifies and then refusing them the coverage they signed up for because they don’t have Medicaid. Nobody at CHM is asking for members’ financial information to screen out potential Medicaid-eligible members. They don’t know a thing about your income or Medicaid status and they never will.

Hi Melissa. I appreciate your viewpoint. On this topic I always suggest that anyone interest contact CHM directly. The CHM guidelines are pretty clear that it is required, so if it’s not true anymore those need to be updated. I pasted this from their guidelines: “The government also allocates money for patients within a certain economic standard. The amount is pre-set and isn’t determined by the number of patients using the funds. CHM requires members to use these resources if they’re eligible for them.” – Page 20, Section M. They’re talking about medicaid. Previous members have stated in post comments they were required to apply (I’m guessing they qualified), and a letter from CHM directly states that members are to get “institutional medicaid” if they qualify, which is apparently specific to an illness/need and not an ongoing status (still more than I want to mess with). The guidelines and the letter seem to match, telling me that if you qualify you have to see if you can get government funding for that specific need. Maybe CHM has changed their policy on that and just hasn’t updated their guidelines yet, or maybe it’s something they don’t really enforce and just want members to do (seems plausible based on your experience). Since I’m not a CHM member I can only go by the information presented by other members and CHM’s own guidelines and documentation, I do not have personal experience with them. I’m glad to hear about your experience and that income isn’t something they dig for. All the main ministries seem to handle that differently. Medishare encourages government programs by giving a discount if you qualify and get on one (but doesn’t officially require it); Liberty doesn’t require it, but won’t share any expenses that a gov’t program would have paid if you choose not to use it and would have qualified; Samaritan doesn’t require anyone to use government programs, but if you have it those must pay first; and CHM is a bit of a question mark, although their guidelines don’t seem to leave much room for doubt about what they want, maybe just what is enforced. As always, anyone interested needs to contact CHM directly to figure out whether it’s an issue for them.

Hi,
I am considering switching from regular insurance to either CHM or Samaritan for 2017. Both of them seem good, maternity guidelines are important to us as we’d like to have a baby within the next year.
However, one of the cons you pointed in your analysis (which was almost a deal breaker for me) is that CHM requires you to first apply for other financial assistance before submitting your need to them (such as medicare, medicaid, etc) but as I read through Samaritan’s guidelines, I found that they require the same from it’s members, which can be found on page 21 under section VI. Amounts that others share

“B. Payments from Others
1. Others Obligated to Pay:
a. Insurance Type Arrangements—Bills must be submitted to insurance, Medicare, Worker’s Compensation, and any other payer who may be responsible, before submit- ting them to Samaritan Ministries. Members must receive notice of payment or rejection, and submit documentation thereof, before Samaritan Ministries will consider publishing the need. Any amount paid by insurance, Medicare, Worker’s Compensation, or any other responsible or liable party will not be published. If a bill is published and later reimbursed by a third party, or liability is released as part of a settlement, the reim- bursed amount must be sent on to meet other members’ needs, even if the amount of medical expense compensation is not specified in the settlement.”

Has anyone actually had to do this first in order to submit a need with Samaritan? What was your experience with that process?

Thank you in advance.

Hi Luci. No worries! 🙂 Sharing ministries are always second payer to any other party who has responsibility (insurance, medicare, etc). The big difference with Samaritan is that they don’t require you to be a part of Medicaid and medicare, or even apply for it, in order to get needs shared. If you’re already part of those, then Samaritan is 2nd payer (some members have those programs and that’s ok, so those members submit to Samaritan second). If not part of them, you don’t have to join even if you quality for them. Big difference. CHM says that other sources must be exhausted first, and will require signing up for any form of them if a member qualifies. Our income fluctuates and there are years when we would fall into medicaid territory on our tax forms. But we are not interested in being part of that and Samaritan will not make us apply for it and will still share our needs in full. The key in what you typed above is “may be responsible”. If you’re not part of medicaid/medicare they those entities aren’t responsible because you wouldn’t be part of them. It sounds like Samaritan would be the best choice for you in that regard. God bless and thanks for writing.

Thank you for your timely responses above. I have a question? How intense is the paperwork to fill out, collect and submit the bills to be shared, etc. No one seems to mention this part, but for me, this would seem to take a lot of time (or maybe not) and I wonder if it is made easy or if you have to resubmit over and over again?

Hi Mary. Samaritan’s paperwork is easy (CHM’s probably is, too), I think it’s just a single page. You’re basically just listing out the bills and totaling them, making sure to list any discounts we got. Then we include that form along with the itemized bills (bills also should show discounts). If a surprise bill shows up after you’ve turned everything in there’s an add-on form used to submit the extra bill as part of that set. Simple. Samaritan is there if we have questions, but everything I’ve seen and heard has been very straightforward. Update: online bill submission is now available. Take a picture of the bill, upload it and fill out a few questions about the need (who, what, when, where, discounts, patient name). Very easy in my experience.

I actually see it as less paperwork that insurance would require. On insurance you’d have an initial bill from the hospital, then the insurance EOB stating what they will pay and what they won’t, then a final bill from the hospital with the remainder for us to pay and the potential fight over why something wasn’t covered. That’s 3 sets of papers and a hassle for one bill. With the ministry we get a detailed bill from the hospital, send it to the ministry, and receive checks from members to cover it. We do have to deposit the checks from members, which isn’t something we’d do with insurance. But we also won’t have the EOB from insurance or a second hospital bill to deal with or a fight with the insurance company.

Generally the bills are only submitted once to the ministry, there’s not a lot of back and forth in most cases. However, the bills have to be itemized and if the hospital is trying to group (hide) charges then those aren’t good enough so in those cases something may need to be submitted again. If we’re paying attention up front when we first get that bill then we can prevent some of that. Some hospitals may need to be told once or twice that the bills have to be fully itemized. It’s in our best interest anyway because there are so many billing errors that can be hidden and missed if things aren’t detailed. There’s no reason to overpay, so seeing everything spelled out is important whether we are ministry members or not. It is more time and leg work than what insurance would require (in theory), because we are handling the bill submission instead of office staff doing it. But I’ve noticed that insurance just seems to save time on the front end. Once things are submitted to insurance, the real headache starts as many people end up on the phone for hours fighting the insurance company, trying to figure out why something wasn’t paid for, and then dealing with the shock of a high left over bill. So generally MORE time is being spent on insurance, and it’s spent later in the process instead of earlier. With the ministry there’s no battle, we just make sure we have itemized bills, submit once, receive checks, pay off the bill.

Good afternoon,

My husband and I wish to join Samaritan. We just moved from France to Arizona recently and because of unfortunate circumstances, we will be moving again to a different state in about a month. We haven’t been able to attend Church so far in Arizona but it seems that in order to join Samaritan, you have to provide them with a Pastor’s letter. Is this referral mandatory for joining Samaritan?

Thank you

Sandra

Hi Sandra, thanks for asking. 🙂 The Pastor doesn’t have to write a letter, but they do need to sign the application form and be willing to vouch for you (can also be someone else in the church to whom you are accountable). This one is a bit tricky due to the timing and lack of attendance recently so I’m thinking a discussion with Samaritan would be in order. It’s possible they would accept a signature (can be digital also I think) from your minister in France, but if they require one from more recent dates then I would recommend choosing a church in Arizona now in order to get your attendance back on track and speak to a minister or Sunday School teacher at a church here. You would then move and have a new church to attend, and when your annual renewal form comes up in a year you’d have a new person sign it from the new church. Those are the best ideas I have right now, as a signature of someone at the church you attend is required as is regular attendance. For some that means attending a very short time and having a conversation with the minister and it’s no big deal. If your intentions are honorable it usually works out. 🙂 Give Samaritan a call. They are so friendly and helpful. I always have warm fuzzies after speaking with them. God bless, and good luck with your upcoming move (during the holiday’s no less!)

Does either health sharing ministry require one to go to one’s church with one’s medical needs before submitting that need to the members?

Hi Joy, that is not a requirement with either one. No pastor signatures are required for submitting needs either (Samaritan used to, doesn’t anymore).

Hello, I have a couple questions;
1. I have arthritis that can flair up sometimes and I assume that is a PEC that I would be responsible for the maintenance medicine. If I am incorrect please let me know.
2. I also have been infected with MRSA about three years ago. This past year I had an abscess near my spine. It was removed through an operation and I have been cleared through MRI’s that it is no longer there. Would that be considered a PEC? If it is would I have to wait 12 months?
Thank you

Hi Mike, you are correct, your arthritis would be a PEC and you’d be responsible for your medications. It looks like most cash prices for arthritis meds are pretty reasonable, but of course it would depend on what and how much you take to keep it under control. The abscess and issues related directly to it would almost certainly fall into the 12 month PEC wait time, but Samaritan would know for sure. The 12 month clock would start from the time of the removal I think. So maybe there isn’t that much time left before it gets out of PEC status. If it’s fully cleared then the wait time may be a nonissue anyway. Definitely speak with Samaritan as they are so friendly and actively look for ways to help people. Every conversation has left me feeling so cared for. You had MRSA wow. I’ve heard of a couple cases locally and it was very frightening for them. I pray you are fully recovered. I’m so glad you’re looking into health care sharing. God bless. 🙂

It is so scary to move to something like SMI or CHM when you have been with traditional insurance your whole life. I don’t have many options as I don’t qualify for Obamacare and all other policies are $1300-$1800/mo. United is dropping Florida policies so we are forced to look elsewhere. My issue is this, my daughter has hydrocephalus. On traditional policies it is considered a pre-existing condition. She has a shunt but doesn’t require any care for it unless she has symptoms of a shunt malfunction. She hasn’t had issues since she got the new shunt 7 years ago and we went 10 years before that without an issue. She doesn’t require any check ups on it either.

My other question is this, we do have a family of runners. On occasion we need to visit an orthopedic for some sort of running issue, pulled muscle, or twisted ankle, would these be considered an incident for each new visit?

Hi Bobbi. Thanks for writing. I remember that feeling of uncertainty when I first considered Samaritan vs insurance. Insurance was all I’d ever known and I was raised to be sure I had it at all times, but suddenly I couldn’t afford it and I was driven to find a way to protect my family. It wasn’t until I really did the research, talked to Samaritan, and prayed about it that I realized this way was a better path for my family. We are still protected, just in a different way. A better way, in my opinion. That feeling of panic became a feeling of peace; a feeling I still enjoy years later. 🙂
To answer you questions, the hydrocephalus could be considered pre-existing, but she’s gone so long without any issues I don’t know if they would still see it that way. If it’s seen as a genetic condition from birth then it could fall into the guidelines on page 26, number 11 which talks about sharing for genetic conditions and it sounds like it may have met the conditions for sharing already (if that became necessary), but I would recommend calling Samaritan directly to be sure. As for the injuries you mentioned, it sounds like those would be seen as a new issue each time. A need would fully encompass all visits/meds/treatments related to the same injury, illness, etc. So if you went to the doctor 4 times for the same ankle injury those visits all count as one need (and would likely cross $300 total if there a multiple visits). If the ankle heals and then is reinjured, then the new injury is a new need. You would want to check with your orthopedist to see what their cash pay rate is for an office visit and your usual treatments. I suspect some of those visits are one time only to address the issue and would likely be under the $300 minimum for sharing and thus paid on your own. You may even choose to find an alternative treatment option depending on the situation to help keep costs down. The potential savings for being cash pay could also make it less costly than you think and thus more manageable. If you have multiple visits for the same injury and the total crosses $300 then the need becomes shareable. Any discounts on the charges will reduce your $300 responsibility and you could even be left with nothing to pay.
I would advise looking back to see what your typical doctor visit count is during a year for the family, and evaluate whether those were multi visit situations or one time visits. Apply the cash pay rate for the single visit needs to that number it should give you a better idea of what your future out of pocket expense could be. Add that to your monthly (family rate) share of $495 and see where you come out compared to insurance premiums and copays. I suspect you’ll find that the ministry significantly cheaper, but maybe not. I’m glad you’re looking into Samaritan and I pray that God gives you guidance and peace as you research a solution for your family. God bless.

We have been with SM for probably about 8-9 years now and everything has been wonderful. We had an emergency appendectomy need to share quite a few years ago and it was shared promptly. We have been very pleased with the staff and their prompt and kind help when needed. A true Christian attitude and compassion. The concept is fantastic. (we have been with MediShare as well before)
As we are over 66 we have had Medicare as well for the last few years and the share of $360 for both of us was still reasonable. With the new increase to $440 a month, things started to get a bit difficult for us. Along the years we have learned to take good care of our health and now we do NOT take any medicine and do NOT have any condition that will require any kind of treatment. I (John) have not taken even an aspirin or visited a doctor in the last 28+ years. To maintain our health there has been a cost and we will do our best to continue to use the knowledge we have acquired along the years to solve any issue naturally. With the price increase we looked at CHM, as an alternative, as we would like a program like their SILVER but there are a few things we do not like (e.g. one of them is not paying for an alternative treatment if chosen vs conventional).
We wonder if SM has ever considered another tier where the monthly share is slightly lower for a higher level of responsibility. We really would not like to change association to any other ministry. We do like SM the most, and in our opinion is the best if someone can afford it.
Blessings!

If you are still looking for another tier with Samaritan Ministries- They have one now!!!

If we go to the doctor for yearly checkups for kids and well woman visits – do you pay at the time of service? Most doctors require that you do. But then do you get reimbursed from Samaritan? I’m confused about the $300 amount. Thank you!

Hi Kimberly. Checkups and physicals are part of the preventative care that we are responsible for on our own. We do pay at the time of service, and usually we can get a cash pay rate that is reasonable since the clinic doesn’t have to mess with insurance filing. Calling ahead to find out what the cash pay rate is will eliminate any surprises in that area. Those costs are not shareable as they are anticipated known events and we budget for them. Typically we are saving so much compared to insurance premiums that we can more easily save back money to cover those things on our own (my family will save $1000/mo compared to insurance next year, and annual checks do not cost that much, so it’s still waaaay cheaper to be with Samaritan and pay for my own checkups). Samaritan is there for the bigger needs, the unexpected things that come up which total over $300. Thus, for medical needs which are shareable (ie: it meets the guidelines, not pre-existing, and not preventative care), then those bills we can submit to Samaritan for sharing. We are responsible for $300 of the bills (like a teeny tiny deductible), and Samaritan shares the rest. However, if we happen to get cash pay discounts (usually pretty easy if we just ask), then Samaritan will apply those discounts to our owed portion first, so that $300 amount can actually be reduced to nothing. For example if you go to the ER and the cost is $1000, you submit all the bills to Samaritan. You will owe $300 of the total and Samaritan members will send you $700 for the rest. But if you ask the hospital for a cash discount and they take $300 off the bill, then you now owe nothing and Samaritan still shares the remaining $700. Pretty neat. 🙂 Even if we don’t get discounts owing $300 on an ER visit is amazingly good. Most insurance plans have an ER copay of at least $250, and that isn’t reimbursed or reduced. But we always try to get a discount because 1) it’s fair, since the hospital doesn’t have to deal with insurance they can pass that savings on to us, and 2) it helps the entire ministry to keep costs down. Sometimes the hospital asks us to pay something up front for that ER visit. Insurance customers are also paying something up front because of the high deductibles. In those cases we still submit the entire bill to Samaritan, we have already paid a little toward it, and when shares come in we pay off the rest of the bill and reimburse ourselves the remainder. It’s a pretty neat system, it’s just different than we’re used to vs insurance. Ministry membership operates like the way healthcare used to be where people pay for their own small needs and yearly checkups themselves, and then have ministry support for bigger unexpected things. Operating this way helps keep the costs so much lower than insurance and gives us our healthcare freedom back as we make our own decisions about our care and we can see any doctor we want. It’s a much simpler way to manage our health care needs.

I have pre-existing high blood pressure , cholesterol, and type II diabetes maintained in normal range with meds. How would SMI compare with CMH with pre-existing conditions. Thank you.

Hi Jack. If your high blood pressure hasn’t resulted in any hospitalizations then it wouldn’t be seen as pre-existing with Samaritan. Neither ministry shares in long term medications so those would be on your own regardless and I recommend using something like goodrx.com to find the cheapest cash price in your area. That can sometimes means different pharmacies in order to get the lowest cost.
The type II diabetes is in Samaritan’s 12 month pre-existing timeline and can fall out of pre-existing status if (according to the guidelines):
a. at least 12 months have passed without any symptoms, treatment, or medication; and
b. in the month before and the month after the 12-month period, (and anytime you are tested in-between) your Hemoglobin A1C test level is seven percent or below.
Documentation of these test results must be provided to the office.
The cholesterol issue is different and I’d recommend checking with Samaritan to see how they handle it. I know it’s different than the blood pressure issue, but if it’s well maintained I don’t expect it to be a problem. Visits for it (if you need them) are not shareable until it falls out of PEC status, but I don’t know how long that timeframe is (guessing 12 months).
I can’t speak to the specifics of how CHM would see each of those issues, I suspect they would all fall in their 3 year step up plan if they’re all in maintenance mode, but please contact them to find out for sure. Thanks for asking! God bless.

Thank you for this information! Do I understand correctly that routine care (specifically “well woman” visits) is not eligible to be shared/published?

Hi Jamie, that is correct. Those visits fall under routine/preventative care that we budget for. They become publishable if something is found during that visit that requires treatment, etc… at that point the visit becomes part of the overall need. If everything checks out ok (hopefully!), then it’s non shareable and something we handle on our own. Especially for the mammogram, calling around to find the best cash price can save us a lot of money. At least where I live the price at an imaging center vs a hospital can vary significantly.

My question is this…We can no longer afford ACA at 2000/month. So I have started to research the Christian sites. So am I understanding correctly that neither company will pay for maintenance meds? That is the biggest reason that I need insurance. We have 3 asthmatics that are well controlled with their meds, an ADHD child well controlled on her med, and a daughter that is on 2 meds for an autoimmune disease that she also requires an endoscopy yearly. What are your thoughts on the med situation. That is really the only thing keeping me from applying.

Hi Mary. That is correct, none of the ministries cover long term medications. They all have different time limits, some more than others, but I think the longest is 6 months worth on a new need (not pre-existing). The ministries do this as a way to keep costs under control, but also because it’s a known expense, similar to an annual physical, which can be budgeted for so it falls into the portion that we bear ourselves. In some cases those ongoing meds are pretty cheap, for others it can be costly. What people are doing is first looking up those meds at the cash rate using something like goodrx.com as the cash price can vary a lot from one pharmacy to another, (and often are cheaper than an insurance copay) and then they are using that monthly total for the cash medications plus their share price and comparing it to what insurance would cost ($2000/mo in your case). With Samaritan being $495/mo for family rate, you would need to have medication costs of about $1500/mo cash price in order to equal what insurance charges you. If it’s less than that then you’re still money ahead by joining Samaritan. Once people look that up and do the math, most of the time they find that insurance isn’t helping as much as they thought it was (especially with insurance dropping meds, changing tiers, etc). But it will vary for everyone so the comparison is important. Thanks for asking. 🙂

Hi Mary Therese, as someone who was healed of asthma years ago, I know how bad an asthma attack can be and am sorry to hear that you have three in your family afflicted with this. Since asthma is basically an allergic reaction to some allergen in the environment, I am just wondering, has no one been able to ascertain what is triggering the attacks?

Hello, and God bless you.

My wife and I are both lay-ministers in a Biblical Fellowship and Teaching ministry. Since we are lay-ministers and do not receive a salary from our ministry organization, I work secularly to support us while my wife volunteers full-time in our ministry. I have access to a high-deductible health care plan, but the premiums and deductibles keep going up, and the quality of care keeps going down (I’m sure you’ve heard this before).

My wife and I are seriously considering leaving our current health insurance program and becoming part of a program such as the one offered by SM. However, we are concerned that we will end up paying more out-of-pocket than with our current plan. We are both healthy, but we both are on maintenance meds (I take meds for HBP and cholesterol, and my wife takes a thyroid meds and recently began hormone replacement therapy as she goes through menopause). Would the cost of these meds be covered? Also, we don’t go to the doctor much except for routine physicals and annual GYN visits for my wife. I also visit my primary care physician to monitor BP and cholesterol, and my wife sees her endocrinologist twice per year. It seems as though since our medical needs are fairly low, we would end up not qualifying to have our expenses shared. Also, I am not sure how our meds would be covered. Can you fill me in to make sure my understanding is clear before we make a decision? We are in our open enrollment period now with our current plan.

Thank you again!

Hi Basil, thanks for asking. It sounds like everything you have listed would fall under routine/preventative needs which are not shared. Long term meds aren’t shared by any ministry beyond a set number of days on a new need (Samaritan’s is 120 days except for cancer meds and anti-rejection)… so your HBP, cholesterol, thyroid meds and hormones would all be out of pocket. The best option there is to look up each one on something like goodrx.com to get the cash price and see what the cheapest is in your area. You may be surprised at the price differences from one pharmacy to another. The doctor visits you mention are also routine and would be out of pocket unless a problem is discovered during one of those visits and then it becomes shareable as part of taking care of that new need (assuming the issue isn’t in the pre-existing timeline). In your case, I would call each doctor office to get their cash price for each of those visit types and then do a little math.
1. Add up those doctor visit prices plus your cash medication costs each month.
2. Divide by 12 to get a monthly average.
3. Add in your monthly share price with Samaritan ($440 for a couple)
4. Compare that new total to what insurance would cost including the premium and the drug copays and the office visit copays (or straight deductible if there are no copays in which case the visit is out of pocket for a while anyway).
Most people find that Samaritan is still saving them money compared to high insurance costs. Of course it’s not true for everyone, but by doing that math you’ll have a much better idea of what you can expect to need to come up with each month.
I would recommend calling Samaritan to talk about any current conditions you have, ie: the reasons you have those medications and visits that aren’t straight physicals. You will want to know if anything is seen as pre-existing (the high blood pressure probably isn’t, but the thyroid maybe…) and how long until they fall out of pre-existing status and what that would entail. You know your medical history better than anyone and they are so great to talk to. Even though you have several costs that are out of pocket, hopefully many of them will be cheaper than you expect once on the cash market, and the ministry will be there to help you with the bigger needs should something unexpected come up. The hope is it saves you money at the same time. Good luck with your research, I’m so glad you’re looking into Samaritan, it is an amazing way to do health care. God bless!

I just wanted to say thanks for the great research you have done! It has helped tremendously.

I wanted to ask about Samaritan’s requirement for a pastor to sign off on your application. We attend a very large church – we do not know the pastor personally, and we are attendees, not members. How is that handled? I need to call Samaritan to find out, but figured I’d ask here first. 🙂

Hi Ingrid. You’re welcome. 🙂 It doesn’t have to be a pastor. It can be a deacon, board member, or someone else to whom you are accountable within the church (Sunday School teacher, group leader, etc). It needs to be someone there who can vouch for you. There is a place to explain that relationship if it’s not a standard one. You do not have to be a member as some churches don’t have official memberships. Samaritan has members who are in large churches all the way down to tiny church plantings. It works great for all. Thanks for asking, God bless!

Thank you for this informative and easy to read article. Comparing so much when I knew nothing about the process was too overwhelming. Very helpful!

The comment section is also informative. I really appreciate your knowledge and time shared with the rest of us.

You are quite welcome. 🙂 I’m so glad it’s helpful to you.

Have members experienced any difficulty w/colleges accepting medical share plans as proof of insurance to waive the schools health insurance coverage?

Hi Glen. It used to be more of a problem than it is now as many schools do now recognize it as a viable option. In fact I wrote a blog post on it recently. There are still some schools which don’t accept it, even some Christian schools, so checking that in advance is advised. The latest great news for athletes is that the NCAA recently recognized these ministries as an acceptable option, also. In the past even if the school allowed it the NCAA didn’t. Now they do and that information will be shared with the schools. The full post about it is here: http://samaritanministriesreview.com/college-students-and-health-care-sharing/ Thanks for asking!

Thank you so much!

Hey,
So say I would go to the doctor 10 times in 1 year but each time the bill is $285 .. I have to pay for that in full each time.. along with paying the “monthly gift”?

Hi Brienna. That scenario would be true only if 1) each visit was for a different need/issue, and 2) the total for all bills related to that need (visit, meds, labs, etc) was under $300 before discounts. I don’t know the situation, but I suspect going to the doctor that often would be unusual for unrelated issues and would instead probably indicate an ongoing problem, in which case repeat visits for the same need all count as one need. Same goes for medications, labs, xrays, etc. Any visits related to the same issue (eg: ongoing infection) count as one need so all the bills for it get totaled up and once the total hits $300 before discounts, it becomes shareable (assuming it meets the guidelines). Even if those visits spanned over several weeks (or months).
Now, if someone has 10 people in the family and each one had a physical, then those would all be paid on your own plus the monthly share. But a family of 10 would pay only $495/month for their share, plus the 10 physicals, and more than likely that would still cost less than insurance premiums for a family of 10 with free physicals. 🙂 Even with insurance a visit beyond the free physical would have a copay (or a high deductible to meet) so there would be some payment required, the question becomes how much. With cash pay discounts some members are able to pay a similar amount to what those with insurance copays do. Of course many also pay more, but it’s not often a lot more simply because of the discounts people can find. It will vary depending on location. Members tend to get pretty good and finding cheaper ways to get those needs addressed.

Thank you very much. I work for a clinic and I know that our self pay prices are way less than regular prices (probably about 60% off) thanks for you help

Another thing I thought of. Say one of these companies all of the sudden has 20 people that get cancer and have 100s of thousands in bills. What happens if there isn’t the money to pay them? What if I’m one of those 20 people.. Maybe the last one to send my bills. Is there a chance money could run out and my bills couldn’t be paid or that it may take years to get them paid?

Anything is possible I suppose, but it’s highly unlikely. Samaritan’s Save to Share program is designed specifically for those big catastrophic needs, anything going over $250,000 (after discounts). There’s more about it here: http://samaritanministriesreview.com/save-to-share/ 99% of needs stay under that $250k mark, including many cancers, but some do go over and then Save to Share kicks in. There are millions and millions of dollars sitting in member savings accounts right now to help with those, it’s a huge resource. Samaritan’s highest need to date was $1.5 million, discounted down to about $700,000 (because big needs tend to get big discounts) and it was all paid because the member was on Save to share. Whether we have an insurance policy or a ministry membership, money is finite. But Samaritan isn’t a small organization. They have over 200,000 members sharing over $19 million per month (they’re actually bigger than one of the ACA insurance companies we considered before joining this).
Let’s consider the numbers.
Right now they are averaging 1-2 of those catastrophic needs per month, which is .001%. The example of 20 out of 200,000 is .01%, so I’m thinking it would be require thousands of members to all get a major cancer before the Save to Share pot would be stressed. Even 2000 cancers a month would be only 1% of the membership. The chances of that are pretty remote, probably more likely to be eaten by a shark. 🙂 Don’t forget a large portion of those cancer needs are shared as part of the regular membership, only the overrun counts toward Save to Share, if the patient is a member of it.
Samaritan is debt free and in over 20 years hasn’t had a need influx yet that overwhelmed Save to Share in to that manner. The members are living a clean lifestyle, as per the guidelines, which naturally helps keep costs and needs lower. We hope that no one has to deal with a terrible situation like cancer or a major heart problem, but because they can happen that’s why I always recommend Save to Share because it costs so little for so much peace of mind. 🙂

Thank you so much for your quick and thorough responses. I realize you wrote the original post a few years ago. Are you still a member of Samaritan and are you enjoying it? Have you had success with them paying for your needs?

yes, we are still happy members and LOVE the ministry. Communication is great, they clearly care about the members and are firmly rooted in their love of Christ. We are fortunate that we haven’t needed to submit a need yet (almost did), (we have now had a need for surgery and it was 100% shared 2 months after surgery/submission) and a few friends of ours have and all has gone very smoothly for them (pregnancy, expensive accident, and illnesses). Hearing about their experience was comforting. Dealing with our providers on a cash basis has been simple so far. 🙂 If you call Samaritan they can give you a list of people in your area who have submitted needs so you can get a feel for how it works for those close to you. I hope you find it a good fit for you family, we absolutely love it and what they are doing for members in need.

Anyone on here know where I can find reviews on CHM & SM from actual members. I would like to know if most all members have had good experiences with getting things paid for they were suppose to pay for and how easy it is to communicate with each ministry. I’m reading horrible reviews on Liberty HS & just wanted to make sure these two are legit before I join one of them. Thanks for the info.!

Carol. If you call Samaritan they will give you a list of people in your area who are current members that you can speak to about how it works. I find that helpful as it gives a picture of how it works with the doctors in your area. CHM may be willing to do the same thing. From the reviews I’ve read both of these are very legit ministries.

CHM takes about 5 to 6 months to respond – even if the answer is no. They are not good at returning phone calls or communicating about your case.

Cindy – just wondering if you can elaborate on your experience. How long have you been a CHM member, and is it that they aren’t sharing the needs you have had? Thanks.

Thank you for this informative site. I trying to decide between joining CHS or Samaritan. They both have things I like and dislike, however, I’m leaning towards CHS. The rep I spoke to at CHS said CHS has over 200,000 members. That’s a lot of money coming in every month. CHS also told me they NEVER have more needs than money so there is never a need to prorate. Do you know how many members Samaritan presently has?

Hi Carol! Samaritan presently has over 200,000 members and shares about $19 million in medical needs each month. You’re right, it is a lot, these ministries are growing like wildfire! I think the 3 main ministries are fairly equivalent in size. 🙂 That CHM information is a bit misdirecting… they don’t actually have a mechanism for prorating which is why they don’t do it. Each ministry has their own payment processes. Because CHM doesn’t have the option to prorate in their guidelines, and instead pay first come first serve, it can cause some payments to be delayed. It’s likely part of why the payment timeline with CHM is longer than with Samaritan (CHM at 3-4 months, Samaritan at 1-2 months). CHM also requires members to exhaust all other forms of aid before they will share the need, that would include hospital, charitable, and government if they qualify (any form of medicaid, medicare, etc) and requires members to stay active until their needs are paid (no matter how long that takes). Samaritan doesn’t require members to be part of government programs even if they do qualify. Requiring a government entity to pay first can also slow down the payment timeline for those qualifying members (nothing the gov’t does is fast 🙂 ). For some people that is not a concern. Because our income can fluctuate, if we do have a need we would prefer not to have a lot of hoops to jump through in the lower income years. The amount of sharing per need would also play a part in how much is shared as CHM shares $125,000 and Samaritan is $250,000 before their add-on catastrophic level programs would kick in. As a result I always recommend that members join those add-on programs no matter which ministry they join, but especially with CHM as the regular program cap is pretty low if someone had a big need. Both ministries have 100% of their qualifying needs met, so it’s a matter of timing, the level and kind of services shared, and which method works best for each family. Both ministries are doing good things for their members in the name of Christ, both are serving a very real need for Christians needing a way out of Obamacare. We looked strongly at CHM, and they have a good program. Samaritan was just a better fit for our family, but of course that wouldn’t be true for everyone. I’m just so glad you’re looking into health care sharing ministries for your family! It really is a wonderful way to do health care. 🙂

Thank you for answering so promptly. I am much better informed to make the correct decision for me. I am currently a member of Liberty Health Share but very unhappy with customer service & there are many negative reviews about LH on Google and their own FB page so I decided to change. LH only has 28,000 members as of yesterday. Thanks again!

Just an FYI for folks, I bought very inexpensive yearly air transport insurance from eagle air med. thought it made sense for my family in a rural area. Might be something others, especially those choosing chm might want to look into.

Yes, this is a good idea. A membership for ground ambulance transportation would also be helpful if someone is able to find these services in their area (not all locations offer a membership plan, but it’s definitely worth looking). It’s great financial protection for those emergencies happening close to home. I don’t know how that works for areas which are served by more than one air or ground ambulance service. I assume the patient would need to alert 911 to which service they want to use, assuming they are conscious to do so. For anyone looking into it I suggest asking about the procedures of how a particular service is contacted during the emergency in order to avoid fees from a competing company.

Hi,
Praying you can answer my question! I’m looking at joining SM and have had Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) for almost 10 years. I’ve not received treatment for it in over 3 years (and never have been hospitalized for it) but need a sleep study now. Do you know if SM will cover the sleep study and assuming that OSA is found in the study, will they cover a CPAP machine and mask, etc.? I can’t find that info anywhere.
Thanks so much!
Beth

Hi Beth. I’ll answer the best I can, but you’ll still definitely want to call Samaritan tomorrow to speak with some regarding your specific case. They would be able to give you the official answer. I see yours as a two part question.
1) It sounds like your sleep study is a checkup of sorts, and those fall under routine which Samaritan does not share. Those maintenance issues we handle on our own. I don’t know where OSA falls on the pre-existing calendar, I’m guessing it’s at the 1 year mark with no symptoms/treatments/medications, but they could confirm. If it is then new issues related to it could be shareable for you if you meet that guideline (but I’m guessing not the sleep study still).
2) Samaritan does have sharing guidelines for medical equipment purchase and rental, and I would assume that could include a CPAP machine and mask. The details are in the guidelines on page 28, section VIII.17 It looks like the limit on equipment cost sharing is about $4000 for any one need, 120 days of supplies and may require prior approval. There are a lot more details than that in the guidelines, but that’s the high level version. 🙂 The biggest thing would be whether your case is seen as pre-existing or routine or neither. Samaritan staff would be able to guide you better on that, but hopefully this gives you a good starting point for your discussions. God bless you on the journey and I hope you find that health care sharing is a good fit for you.

Hi, I am a soon to be 62 year old with no health issues. My husband will be 64 this year. We are currently on my state insurance. When I retire I will have to pay around $1,400 a month to keep the insurance. My husband has serious concerns about dropping the insurance and going with someone like Samaritan or CHM due to the fact he had prostate cancer six years ago and was clean until his PSA went up in 2015. As a precaution he had around 42 radiation treatments to kill any cancer cells that may have been there. My question is how long would he have to be considered clear by his doctor before any bills would be shared in case of a new recurrence of cancer? How does the pre-existing condition rules work with Samaritan work?

Hi Vera. Samaritan’s pre-existing rule regarding cancer is that once you go 5 years symptom/treatment/med free then it’s no longer considered pre-existing for the same cancer (cancer and heart issues are 5 year waits, most things are 1 year wait periods). The raised PSA doesn’t mean his cancer returned, its just a possible indicator. You would want to confirm it with Samaritan staff to be sure, but it’s possible they could 1) see him as past that 5 year mark, so all future sharing would already qualify, OR 2) they could see it as starting a 1 year clock with the raised PSA/treatments (not the 5 year clock if its not really cancer), or maybe 3) resetting the 5 year clock with those treatments if its seen as cancer (was there any conclusive cancer diagnosis?). The raised PSA is a symptom of a test result (and Samaritan is symptom driven), but it doesn’t have to mean cancer. Samaritan would be able to tell you for sure whether they see that as a 1 year wait period or 5 year. If it’s the one year timeline then he may be almost through it by now. I’m fairly optimistic it’s either the 1 year or already not pre-existing, but please check with Samaritan to be sure. Plus they are so friendly, I really enjoy speaking with them. 🙂 If the answer isn’t what you hoped for him, you could join as a single and wait for him to join later. I should also note that sharing for others cancers would begin right away, it’s only the prostate one he would need to question. Samaritan staff would be able to ask the questions necessary to determine if its shareable, it won’t be a guessing game down the road. They are very helpful and actively look for ways to help people.

Under each plan, at what age are children no longer eligible to be on the family coverage and must obtain their own single adult coverage? Thanks so much!

Hi Glen. Thanks for asking! Children can stay on your plan until age 26 if they are living at home. If their income is low enough and still at home they can even stay on after that. Children 18 and up do need to sign the membership renewal form, agree with the statement of faith, attend church regularly, etc, just like other adult members of the household. The printed guidelines for staying on your membership state:
“Your single children from age 18 up to and including age 25 may be on your membership if they are living at home (which includes while away at school full time). Single children age 26 and over may be on your membership if they are still living in your home and have an annual adjusted gross income (AGI) for federal tax purposes of less than 80 times the standard one-person membership monthly share.”

I am considering Samaritan. My husband turns 65 at the end of the year so I will no longer be covered under his group insurance plan. My question: My husband is researching what to do for supplement insurance after he goes on Medicare. I saw a couple of references to Medicare patients on your website but nothing specific. Do people use Samaritan as a supplement for Medicare? If so, are the monthly sharing costs the same as someone without Medicare? I will turn 65 in a year, so was considering Samaritan for 1 year only, but if it can be used as a supplement for Medicare, I would consider staying on it and perhaps even my husband would consider it.

Hi Cathy. Yes, there are members who have Medicare and use Samaritan for the portion Medicare doesn’t cover. The monthly rate is the same whether you have Medicare or not. Medicare would be first payer, Samaritan shares qualifying costs that Medicare doesn’t pay. I don’t know how costs compare to other supplemental options. For some it’s definitely cheaper, probably not for others.

Hi Cathy,
We have been Samaritan members for 6 years and are very happy with it. I too will soon have to make decisions regarding Medicare. It has been hard finding out from the gov’t sources whether you have to take Medicare part B. They just assume you will, and say there might be a penalty for signing up at a later date.
I think we have settled on probably accepting Medicare Part A (the “free” hospitalization part) and continuing our Samaritan membership for anything that does not cover. We are also save-to-share members. What I like about Samaritan is that we will be able to submit the full amount of whatever Part A will not cover. I think all the gov’t programs will only cover 80% at best. In the meantime we will continue to thank God and trust him for our health and everything else!

I am a recently retired school teacher who has supplemented my income over the years with tree work (removal, trimming, etc). In my retirement I am looking to change to an insurance that is more financially manageable than BCBS. I continue to do trees and wonder if there are exceptions for coverage eligibility based on “profession”. In other words, am I insurable?
Thanks.
David

Hi David. Samaritan doesn’t have any profession restrictions that I’m aware of and it’s not on any application or form, nor have I been asked or heard of anyone asked. We are farmers which is probably similarly dangerous and there’s no problems there. A year or two ago someone mentioned that one of the other ministries had limitations on pilots, but I don’t know if that’s still true. I think you should have no trouble with your tree work business. 🙂

I’ve been trying to wade through the pros and cons of each health sharing option, so thanks for this blog! My question (if you might be able to help) is this: my son has Tourette syndrome. He has not been treated for it medically in a few years. I know Medi-Share specifically states they don’t allow sharing for neuro disorders. Do you know if Samaritan’s or CHM will allow treatment as shareable? His Tourette is worsening and I’d like to consider treatment options for him and need a coverage that will allow this as affordable as possible. Thank you!

Hi Crystal. I’m checking to see how Samaritan classifies Tourette’s. Samaritan is symptom driven, so if it happens to be a shareable need, in this particular case it would likely be seen as pre-existing (for CHM also) and would need to get through Samaritan’s 12 month wait period with no treatments, but also no symptoms or medications for it in order to get out of PEC status. CHM’s step up plan for pre-existings might make it shareable after 3 years, but it would need to be in full maintenance mode first, and since you say it’s worsening I don’t think that time period would start yet. Samaritan might allow expenses to be shared as a special prayer need. CHM has more restrictions on their prayer page so you’d want to check about whether this qualifies. I will update this comment when I know if it’s a shareable need and how it’s classified. My prayers for you and your son as you work toward his healing. God bless you on your journey!
Update: I learned that Samaritan will share expenses for the physical portion of Tourette’s, such as treating any tics, but any counseling portion would not be shared. The shareable portion would be limited to special prayer needs for anything pre-existing.

In Feb 2016, my wife had a brain aneurysm, clipping and stent installed. She has been given clean bill of health from physician, however, needs to take mild HBP medication. What, if anything, would be covered should she require hospitalization for anything related? What would her cost be monthly for the best membership including any additional contributions? I am on Medicare, she is 62.

Hello Jeff. The easy question is cost. Samaritan’s single rate (if you don’t join) is currently $180/mo, CHM’s gold plan is $150/mo. Samaritan says that her HBP is not pre-existing as long as she hasn’t been hospitalized for it. So it may depend on whether the aneurysm was because of HBP or not to determine if the HBP is an issue. The aneurysm itself (and stent) would probably have to go 12 months with no more issues before it drops off the pre-existing list. But please confirm that with Samaritan to be sure. If that’s the case, then Samaritan would be the better choice from a pre-existing standpoint as CHM has a step up program for PECs that goes 3 years before clearing off the PEC list. Since her doctor has given her a clean bill of health, the 8 months between now and having it fall out of PEC status with Samaritan could be no big deal. If anything related to it arose before next Feb those costs would be shared as Special Prayer Needs, but it sounds like the risks associated with a recurrence are low. You might check with her doctor about what else could happen as a result of/related to the stent and aneurysm. I don’t know what else those issues could be, perhaps not much. So based on the information you’ve shared I would say Samaritan, even though a little higher cost, is probably the best choice under those circumstances. I recommend calling Samaritan to see what they say, they are so friendly and they’ll know for sure what the PEC wait time is for that. God bless you in your search!

I am a single, healthy, 37yr old woman. I do not have any insurance aside from an AFLAC cancer policy. I have tried to research INS but find it daunting and give up every time. Have you found one to be better than the other for singles? I am very low income since my husband left and could not afford to pay more than $50 monthly. I have always paid out of pocket for my all of my medical expenses and have very good car insurance in case I’m hurt in the car( great advice from my agent when I told him I didn’t have health ins).

Hi Missy. The ministries all treat their singles the same as couples or families, so my preferences are the same regardless of status (Samaritan, CHM, Libery, Medi-share). The only varying factor is cost and what is shareable.
The only one that fits within your budget is CHM’s bronze level single rate at $45/mo. (It’s $85 for silver and $150 for gold). The Bronze is within your budget, but there is a $5000 personal responsibility portion before they pay anything with a max of $125,000 sharing of costs per need, so you might want to also consider Brother’s Keeper ($25 per quarter) to get that cap raised to $1 million. There are a lot more limits on what can be shared with the bronze plan, but it would take care of most hospital related needs you have after the $5000 is met. You can read more about their different levels here: http://www.chministries.org/programs.aspx
The other ministries (and CHM’s higher levels) provide sharing earlier and more things are included, but the monthly cost is higher. I’m so glad you’re looking into these ministries as an option for you. They are such a wonderful solution for those who struggle with insurance confusion, limitations and pricing. God bless!

Hi,

I have another question for you. Do you know if TMJ/jaw issue costs are publishable?

I have a jaw issue and I have seen a few doctors for it but I don’t think it’s been officially diagnosed as TMJ. We are thinking of cancelling our insurance soon and joining SMI, but I am concerned jaw issues may not be publishable.

But I’m also wondering if this would be considered a pre-existing condition since I have experienced these issues within the last 12 months. But again, I don’t know if it’s been officially diagnosed.

Thank you for all your help! If you are willing, may I email you if I have further questions? My email address is carlyjo90@g****.com.

Carly Reid

This is a two part question. 🙂 TMJ is seen as a medical issue, not dental, so as long as it meets the rest of the guidelines it does count as shareable. However, your case would likely be seen as pre-existing since you’re already having symptoms. Samaritan is symptom driven, so it doesn’t depend on a diagnosis but rather if there are symptoms present prior to membership. If you are able to go 12 months without any symptoms/treatments/meds for it then it would likely become shareable for you again. Probably not the answer you were hoping for. Yes, you can write to me at heather@samaritanministriesreview.com if you have further questions. I’m happy to help. 🙂
Edit: Forgot to mention, you could also submit the costs as a special prayer need. As cash pay I don’t know how much the costs would be, but I’m guessing less that what you’re quoted under insurance.

I have a question about your statement: “CHMinistries requires you to first apply for government and financial assistance programs before they will share your need.”

When did this go into effect? I have CHM and utilized their services a couple of years ago. This was not true at that time.

Thanks.

I don’t know when it started, I get the impression it’s been that way for a while. Various comments from other members, a letter from CHM itself and even their guidelines on page 18 section M state that it’s required for members to use those resources (hospital and gov’t assistance) if they’re eligible. They include the gov’t assistance info in that section about hospital financial assistance programs. It could be they completely skip over that for someone with a large enough income and only require it if there’s a possibility. If you were clearly out of eligibility that may be why you weren’t approached about it. Being self employed our income swings from year to year, and we didn’t want to deal with the headache of those programs in years where it swings lower. Some people are not bothered by that issue. Some are. It’s just another factor to consider. 🙂

My wife and I have been without insurance for 2 years now. She told me about Samaritan and after reading everything it sounds wonderful. I have a question regarding dental and vision. Is this also included as I cannot find it in any of the information.
I look forward to your reply.

Hi David. Generally dental and vision are not included as part of the regular sharing, most of it falls under routine (braces, glasses, checkups, fillings, cleanings, etc) which isn’t publishable. If you have bigger dental and vision expenses they typically can be submitted as special prayer needs. I don’t think any ministry shares for dental and vision, actually, and some of them won’t allow that to be shared as part of their version of special prayer needs either. Samaritan does offer that for burdensome dental/vision needs that otherwise wouldn’t qualify.
However there are some exceptions and the guidelines for vision state: Expenses related to cataracts, glaucoma, and other diseases or injury (including cornea replacement due to disease or injury) are publishable. Vision therapy is publishable, and outpatient therapy will be included in the 40 total outpatient therapy sessions allowed for any particular need. See Section VIII.B.36. Routine and corrective optometric services, exams, or tests, including eyeglasses, contacts, eye refraction, LASIK surgery, cornea replacement, surgery, or other services when done primarily for corrective or cosmetic reasons unrelated to disease or injury are not publishable.

The dental section is even longer, page 25 of the guidelines, but they basically will share for dental injuries (except not if teeth break when eating), life saving dental treatments, and mouth cancers, etc. They do not publish dental work on the teeth either above or below the surface of the gums, and/or routine dental work such as (but not limited to): cleanings, fillings, crowns, implants, removal of wisdom teeth, dentures, orthodontics, treatment of periodontal disease other than bone operations, etc., except as provided in 8.a through 8.d above.
Most vision and dental issues are routine enough we can save for them. Our family is currently saving for 2 sets of braces. Ouch! 🙂

I am looking into healthshare and have heard Samaritian requires you to tithe. My husband doesn’t tithe but I do. Since I just started working however it has not been a full year. Does CHM have this requirement that you are aware of? (I cannot seem to find it!)

Thanks for all of this information!

Hi Karen. Actually, Samaritan doesn’t require you to tithe. It’s not in their guidelines or application (our family gives every Sunday but we don’t officially tithe). Maybe it was an old policy, but it’s not a current one. A print version of the application is here: http://samaritanministries.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/20160202-MemberApp1.pdf it doesn’t mention tithing either. I don’t know if any of the other ministries require it, but I don’t think they do, I haven’t heard about it. I will do some more digging and update this comment if I learn more about the others. Thanks for asking!

It was a while ago that I had inquired so it may have changed. Thank you so very much!!!

Lowell,
I have been taking blood pressure medicine for 15 years. I have not had any heart attacks or any other situations occurring related to high blood pressure. Would this be pre-existing for Samaritan?

Hi Richard, as long as you haven’t had any hospital stays related to your high blood pressure then it is NOT seen as pre-existing. The official guidelines state: High blood pressure will not be considered a “condition existing prior to membership” even if you have not gone 12 months symptom free, as long as you have not been hospitalized for high blood pressure in the past, and you are able to control the condition through medication or diet. Medication for treatment as a chronic condition will not be published.

Hello,

I had a question regarding dealing with the provider (Dr’s)
I know that many Dr’s require you, if not insured, to pay up front for medical cost and will not bill you for later payment. How have you handled such matters? Do you simply pay the Dr and then submit the bill to Samaritan to be shared?

Thanks
Neil

Hi Neil. Yes, small things I pay on the spot and would get reimbursed later if it qualifies for sharing. I have a small medical savings fund for just that type of thing. Bigger things would go on a credit card or a CareCredit healthcare plan and then I would pay it off when shares come in. But around here payment plans are common. Emergencies have to be treated regardless.

If we’re going to prepay a lot (or all) we’d want a big discount to go with it. The typical seems to be about 30-40% for those who prepay in full in advance. However, once we pay in full no more discounts can be obtained so we have to weigh the value of the discount. Getting a big discount is a fair trade for the hospital not having to deal with insurance or wait for payment. Many locations have self/cash pay policies posted on their websites, and if not it’s a phone call to their billing department to find out what the standard practice is. Sometimes the first person you talk to doesn’t know so you may need a supervisor. Everywhere is different. Not all locations require prepayment, but those who do are even requiring it of insurance customers because of the higher deductibles. How much to pay will vary considerably depending on location. Most clinics want cash payments at time of service if you’re a cash payer, but they typically have a nice discount if you ask for it. It’s similar with an outpatient clinic or urgent care center. What you experience will vary site to site, region to region, so any advance research you can do about how the hospitals and clinics in your area do it is pretty helpful. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like surprises. 🙂 For instance, I checked around before I joined Samaritan and learned that one local hospital gives a discount to match insurance rates if we ask for it and offers 90 days interest free on the bill. No prepayment required. Another one offers a bigger discount depending on a variety of factors, but they offer 18 months no interest with even a small payment each month before it’s due in full. The hospital may ask for money up front, but a conversation about how Samaritan works, what you’re able to do, and what is reasonable and customary typically results in something manageable with a nice discount, too. If necessary members can get Samaritan involved, but I’m told that is very rarely needed. Mostly the provider wants to know that there is a plan for paying the bill and be comfortable that it will be paid. Members are self pay patients, but we aren’t unprotected. Knowing that often makes all the difference.

Hi and another thank you for YOUR ministry of getting the word out on these health care options.

I’m very much looking forward to joining in the coming year.

I have a question regarding Colonoscopy. I know its been said before that it is not covered unless it is required as part of another finding. This makes perfect sense. However in reading the newspaper today I hear that there is a general reconsideration of the need for Colonoscopies due to the expense and invasive nature of them. The article described that an annual Fecal Immunochemical Test(FIT) that can be done at home(or annual physician exam for guys), then sent to a lab for analysis The cost is only about $25 and it is nearly as good at determining if the more aggressive colonoscopy is required. According to the article, about 5% of the FIT tests come back with a result that a Colonoscopy should be used to check further.

One of the things that make me so look forward to joining is that the membership, collectively, has such a high degree of accountability to each other to be sure each dollar is most wisely spent. So my question is this: As members of Samaritan, would the cost of a follow-up colonoscopy be a shared expense if the member-paid FIT test came back from the lab as positive to check further?

Thanks Bill

Hi Bill. First of all, this is a great question. I hadn’t heard of the FIT method so I called Samaritan to see what their thoughts were. The gentleman I spoke with said it sounded like a scenario where a FIT came back “positive” (meaning blood in the colon was detected) and a doctor concurs, then Samaritan likely would be able to share the resulting procedure. Samaritan would need your doctor’s confirmation, but since most colonoscopy’s would require a doctors referral anyway, that shouldn’t be an issue. A member getting that result would likely want to speak with a doctor to get questions answered about what it means, determine if the test could have been faulty, see if a retest is necessary, etc. In doing a little research on the test I was glad to see that the fecal immunochemical test looks to be superior to the standard FOBT which can return more false positives if blood from other sources moves through the stool (bleeding gums, rectal, etc). The FIT apparently uses antibodies to look for blood specifically from the colon and would then be more accurate. A positive test result is a symptom of a condition, and Samaritan is symptom driven. It doesn’t look like the FIT method is a full replacement for a colonoscopy yet, because some polyps and cancers don’t cause bleeding, but it is a test that can be quite useful. However, in case I’m missing something obvious in your question, I always suggest speaking with Samaritan to be sure we’re understanding it correctly. Thanks for the great question, have a blessed day!

My head is spinning after reading through all the info on both Samaritan and CH. Both sound really good and we are trying to decide. I think my only question is regarding the pre-existing conditions with Samaritan.

1. My husband I both take high blood pressure medicine. Easy to pay for. Just preventative. We have not had an “incidents”. Doc just wants us on it (for now). Since we are on maintenance meds, I presume that if we have an “incident” with high blood pressure, the bills would not be published. But if there is a heart attack that cannot be traced to HBP, then that would be published. Correct?
2. What about my son being on an inhaler? He doesn’t have asthma, just food sensitives. Does he have to go a year without seeing a doctor for it not to be considered pre-existing?
3. And I am wondering about menopause stuff. It’s been over a year since I had an incident with it where I had to have an ultrasound for uterus enlargement. So now it’s not pre-existing and if it happens again it will be published?

Thanks for your site. I am leaning toward Samaratin. Especially after I read where we have to apply to a government agency first with CH???

I actually like the idea of sending a PERSON money to pay their bills. And I would love to send a card with my handwritten prayers… ~Kim

Hi Kim. My head was spinning, too, when I first learned of these ministries. I made the charts so I could help keep it all straight! 🙂
1. High blood pressure isn’t seen as pre-existing if you haven’t had a hospital issue related to it. So being on meds is no big deal. Meds are on your own, but the potential issues you mentioned would be publishable.
2. I’m not sure about your son’s inhaler and food issues. I would suggest running that by someone at Samaritan. It isn’t just a matter of seeing a doctor in the year, he also can’t have symptoms or use the meds I would think. But there are likely nuances to his situation that would make the answer easier for someone at Samaritan.
3. If it’s been over a year with no symptoms/meds/treatments, then the uterus stuff is no longer a pre-existing issue. Sounds like a future event would be publishable in that case.
The gov’t agency issue with CHM is a fuzzy one. I have had various different answers given to me about whether or not that’s truly required and in what form. Sounds like members must exhaust all other forms of aid, public and private, before CHM shares the bills. Apparently that does include at least some form of gov’t aid. Some people aren’t bothered by that, some are.
I also enjoy sending shares to a person and praying for them and sending a card. The personal touch is really nice. I think you will enjoy speaking with someone at Samaritan, I always do. I wish you the best in your research. God bless! 🙂

Hello! My husband and I are retiring from our mission board after 32 years of service in Taiwan. Of course we’ve come and gone through the years, and maintain our Stateside residence. As foreign missionaries, could we opt for insurance coverage with Samaritan Ministries? Our supporting church is going for it for all their staff; they’ve been quite pleased with the community feel and support.

Thank you so much for your guidance.

–Ruth

Hi Ruth. Yes! Samaritan welcomes and has quite a few missionaries as members. Whenever you get medical care outside the US you’ll need to have the bills converted to US dollars, and you’ll need a stateside contact address for sending and receiving shares. That usually means someone back home who can manage it for you (I’m thinking your supporting church would be perfect for that). I’m so glad to hear that your church will be using Samaritan for their staff! Yay! God bless you in your mission work. For more specific details on how membership works from overseas please give Samaritan a call or email them (depending on the time difference).

Hi, This conversation about missionaries and health care sharing really interests me.

My husband and I work in Africa. We have no children. We also have no family beyond each other. We are concerned about how we would manage translation of medical bills from French to English if we were both ill.

What part of the bills has to be translated? There’s the amount paid, the type of service provided, and lots of other information in French. Does all of this have to be translated?

Is an official translation required or can we have a friend translate for us?

Thank you

Hi Jeanne! I’m thinking that everything has to be translated, including service descriptions and costs into US dollars. I don’t know who has to do the translating, I’ll see if I can find out for you. It would be tricky if you’re both ill at the same time, but from a timing perspective it would be most difficult if you were both ill for several weeks or months. I don’t know how medical billing works where you are, here it can take a month to even get the bill. Hopefully you would be recovered by the time the billing got to you, but maybe where you are it’s more efficient. I will ask and see what Samaritan says about that translation and who usually handles it. I will then update this comment when I know more. So glad you’re considering ministry membership, they have many missionary members from what I understand.
Update: I contacted Samaritan regarding the translation and it’s even easier than I thought. No official translator is required, even Google Translate is allowed (so a friend could do it if you’re both too ill). The main items that will need translation will be the line items of the service provided, so they can know what they’re sharing for, but each line item charge doesn’t have to be converted, just the final total needs to be converted to US dollars. Great question, thanks for asking! 🙂 God bless.

Thank you for posting all of this wonderful information. We are considering joining Samaritan Ministries after my husband reties this summer.

I have Spondylolisthesis (a fracture at L4, with a slipped disk between L4 and L5). There is no “cure” for it according to the physical therapist and the chiropractor. Therefore, I assume that I would not be covered if I ended up having surgery for this condition in the future. But, can the chiropractic visits be shared if I decide to do them again?

I would prefer to try acupuncture/acupressure or hands on energy work. I would need to call the office to see if any of these alternative treatments could be shared f they exceed $300.00 in a month? Is that from one method or perhaps all three if I decided to try all three in one month and see if anything helps with the pain/healing of the fracture?

Gee, who knew that getting dumped from a horse 44 years ago would result in a fracture now? I did love that horse, but not so much, now-ha,ha. Of course, stacking hay, scooping horse manure, and daily life added to the stress in my back until it was too much. But riding was so much fun, when I was young and dumb. 🙂

Hi Diane. From what you describe, expenses related to that fracture and slipped disk would all be shared as special prayer needs, including any upcoming chiropractic visits or surgeries. You would need to go a year without symptoms (this may be the hard part), medications or treatment, which may be possible, in order for them to be shared as regular needs. If you develop a new unrelated condition that need chiropractic treatments, then those could be shared as a regular need if it meets the guidelines. The $300 responsibility amount is per need, not per month. So you could have a need stretch many weeks or even months or longer and if it’s still the same need then it’s the same $300 from you. For specific alternative treatments you would first want to confirm with Samaritan first if those treatments are shareable, then confirm whether they are an SPN for you or a regular shared need. It sounds like you’ve had a grand time riding and being around horses, that’s not something I get to experience much. I envy you that, just not the pain you experience now. God bless.

Wow. Lots of great information here! “Lots” being the operative word. So much to take in.

I’m especially confused about PEC. Some are cut and dried, others not so much. At least to me.

I am trying to help my parents sort this all out. They are looking at SM. My mother was diagnosed with osteoporosis this past year (it was osteopenia for a couple of years before that.) she is on no medication. What if she has to go on medication? Is that publishable? What is she falls and breaks a bone? Is that publishable? Or are these considered pre-existing conditions because she has osteoporosis, which is not curable?

Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

Hi Mary Ann. Long term medications are not shared anyway. So if your mom ends up needing some she would want to use something like goodrx.com or Samaritan’s discount drug card to find the cheapest way to purchase them. Discount programs direct from the drug companies is another option if she happens to get a name brand prescription instead of generic. 120 days of incident related meds are shared. The osteoporosis is a gray area for me. For that I would suggest calling Samaritan’s staff to work through the scenarios. Having that condition makes it easier for her to break a bone, but I don’t know if they would always consider it the cause of the break. Falling causes breaks, which can happen to anyone regardless of that diagnosis. It would likely depend on her doctor’s statement regarding her condition. But see what Samaritan says about it. I do know that Samaritan actively looks for ways to help members, instead of trying to find ways to dismiss them. They are an amazing group of people and so warm. I think you will enjoy speaking with them. 🙂

Thank you. I will call them today.

I am beginning to research insurance/or other alternatives to group plans with my employer. My husband will retire in June 2016 and with that goes our current health insurance. Considering one of the Christian sharing plans. One concern is pre-existing conditions. He and I both had atrial fibrillation episodes several years ago. Mine is controlled with medication and thankfully I have had no other episodes. He no longer takes medication for it. He also was diagnosed with diabetes. With weight loss and a healthy lifestyle change, he no longer is on meds for that either. With that, would we be eligible? How would this be handled? He has two children who might also need to be included in our plan. One is in college. The other lives with her mother. We claim one on tax return but carried both on our insurance plan. Thanks for the information.

Hi Carolyn. I will try to answer your questions as best I can. 🙂 You can both join for sure. Samaritan doesn’t reject memberships for health issues. Generally pre-existing heart issues must go 5 years without symptoms/treatments/meds to be off the pre-existing status. Having one issue doesn’t mean that other issues become unshareable, but it would still be wise to run that by Samaritan to see where you fit (timeline of being “Cured”, if your meds are an issue or not, etc.) It sounds like his would more easily be off the PEC status than yours, but that’s just a hunch, Samaritan would know for sure. If something does still happen to be in pre-existing status for a little bit, then needs associated with it would be shared as special prayer needs. But only those needs directly related, other qualifying needs would be fully shareable.
The rules for his diabetes are more clear. Guidelines state: For Type 2 diabetes, you will have met the 12-month limitation if:
a. at least 12 months have passed without any symptoms, treatment, or medication; and
b. in the month before and the month after the 12-month period, (and anytime you are tested in-between) your Hemoglobin A1C test level is seven percent or below.
Documentation of these test results must be provided to the office.
It sounds like he could do that easily so his diabetes is likely not an issue unless he hasn’t met the 1 year mark yet.
Children who reach age 18 must be able to meet the membership requirements like other adults (statement of faith, lifestyle guidelines, etc), but they are welcome to stay on your family plan as long as they’re living at home (while not away at college) through age 25. I’m not sure if the one living with her mother would be allowed since it isn’t your home, check with Samaritan.
Health care sharing ministries are a wonderful solution for hundreds of thousands of people. I hope Samaritan becomes a good solution for your family when June comes around. They very much enjoy helping people and would love to speak with you about your questions to clear up any muddy waters. God bless you as you make this transition.

Hi,

Looking forward to joining next year!

I had to get an X-Ray today and I thought I would do a little “test run” of self-pay after the helpful receptionist set up my current insurance for payment of services…

I asked “if I were self-pay, what would the rates be and how are they different than what you will bill insurance?”

I was shocked at the answer. They said they now REQUIRE Insurance due to Obamacare and don’t offer a cash payment option.

1. Have you run into this yet with any of your providers?
2. Is this is simply a situation where you have to prepare a 2 minute “elevator” talk to educate them?
3. Does SHM offer some kind of card that can be shown to build confidence or state the Obamacare waiver for Ministries?

Thanks!

I have not run into that. I suppose they could choose that option since it’s not an emergency treatment, but if they are a critical access facility they have to provide an option to pay that doesn’t require insurance. If they’re a more private entity (like an outpatient clinic) then it’s their choice from what I understand. There are places who refuse insurance, so refusing cash is a possibility I suppose. I live in a more rural area and they all take cash pay with a small discount. SMI would have the best wording, but you could try telling them that being a ministry member is a legal option under the ACA, and as a result you are cash pay with ministry support and would like a payment solution. Samaritan would have a better “elevator” speech for you. Often that is all it takes when the billing dept is confused. Samaritan does give you a membership card you can show. Maybe if you pay up front they’d be happier, they likely assume you want to get the procedure and pay nothing, an explanation of the process is a good idea. If they are still refusing cash pay, I’m guessing that means there are other facilities in your area who can do the xrays, and using Samaritan’s free access to Medi-bid may help you find them. You may even find the other places are cheaper. Good job doing this advanced research. I did the same thing, but got a much better reaction from my providers. 🙂

Hi there. I work for a large school district and I made a mistake on my enrollment for the provided healthcare and got dropped. Have to wait one year to get back on. I basically go to the doctor abt 4 times a year just to get approval for my ADHD Meds and migraine medicines. How does that work? Do I pay the full price for doctor visits and prescriptions and then submit the bill for reimbursement?

I have never been without insurance so I am just terrified but from reading the comments, this seems like my best chance. Thank u!

Hi Carol. I definitely understand that initial terror, it’s not a fun feeling. From what you describe your expenses for the visits and medications would be all out of pocket. Long term meds aren’t shared and needs under $300 are our responsibility also (not shared). Those would also likely be seen as a pre-existing condition. However, there is good news. You should check with your doctor’s office to see what their cash pay rate is for the visits. It’s probably less than you’re imagining. And look up your medications on goodrx.com to see what the cheapest price is at pharmacies in your area. The cheapest place may not be where you get them filled now, so you may have move them to a new pharmacy, but that’s a pretty easy (often automated) process. Full price for visits and medications could be way less than what was billed to insurance. It’s a big game in the insurance/health industry. The ministry membership will be there for you if something bigger develops during the year, whether it’s an ER visit, an expensive illness, injury, etc. If your doctor visits and meds for the ADHD and migraines are burdensome you could gather them toward the end of that year (10 months worth?) and submit them as a special prayer need (members can voluntary donate to those needs if they are able), but hopefully they won’t be as big a burden as you’re expecting. Joining the ministry will give you that peace of mind for the bigger needs during this upcoming year, while your regular visits and meds will be something to budget for.

At what age does a person have to have their own plan rather than be on the family plan (both for Samaritan and CHM)? Our daughter will be 23 in 2016, and is still in college.

Thanks for all the valuable, comprehensive information!

Hello! With Samaritan they can stay on the family plan up to age 25 with income based options for staying even longer. Once they are age 18 they have to verify they meet the qualifications to stay members (lifestyle, beliefs, church attendance, etc).

The official Samaritan guidelines state:
Your single children from age 18 up to and including age 25 may be on your membership if they are living at home (which includes while away at school full time). Single children age 26 and over may be on your membership if they are still living in your home and have an annual adjusted gross income (AGI) for federal tax purposes of less than 80 times the standard one-person membership monthly share.

CHM’s guidelines on this state:
“Adult children can remain on their parents’ membership until their 26th birthday as long as they meet the following qualifications: (1) they must be Christians living by biblical principles; (2) they must be single; and (3) they must be legal dependents. Legal dependence is defined as children who are reported as dependents on their parent’s income tax forms.”

Do either of the companies require a faith agreement that includes a belief in a trinity?

Yes, that is part of Samaritan’s statement of faith. I don’t know if CHM officially has one. Their site says it’s for Christians and must agree with the New Testament. I would recommend calling them directly about that one. Thanks for asking!

Tried to reach out to Samaritan by e-mail and phone with no reply…

Our family would very much like to become members, however this coming year my wife has an expensive surgical hip reconstruction planned, so we will use our existing Employer Insurance rather than put this burden on the members.

I did read somewhere that we can get a copy of the Newsletter for $12? We would like to do this but I did not see a way to do it on the website.

Also, someday my wife and I would like to tour the USA and live in an RV while doing it. How does that work for other members that would do that when it comes time to have a Church leader sign forms? I was thinking I would simply keep copies of bulletins etc to show the “need” Church leader that we are actively attending. Please advise if you might be aware of any better way?!

Hi Bill. To get the newsletter for $1/month you’d want to speak directly to Samaritan. I’m not aware of a way to signup for that online. It’s wonderful that you would like to get the newsletter before officially joining. 🙂 Did you call them during business hours? I’ve never waited more than 5 minutes to get a person. Please try again at (888) 268-4377. They are there M-F 8-5.
As for the RV touring, first let me say “how fun!” That sounds wonderful! As for the pastor’s signature, that may be a little tricky but I like your idea of keeping bulletins. I don’t know what Samaritan says about it, but the creativity of that is great. 🙂 Definitely suggest it to them to see what they think. I pray your wife’s surgery goes well and she is up and around ready for your RV trip in no time. Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas as well! They must be crazy busy now because they have the phone feature that lets you hang up and they will dial you back instead of keeping you on hold. It took an hour but they called back!

The person that called was new and patched me into a voicemail box….

I’ll try to contact them again at a different time to see if I have better luck.

December/January is their busiest time of the year. That is when the majority of folks sign up (as insurance is ready to be renewed and people look elsewhere to save money). I have spoken with 3 families just this week who wanted information on switching from health insurance to Samaritan and so far, 2 of the 3 have signed up!

I would just use a friend who is a pastor that could sign off for you. Maybe a minister from your home church. Or, you could call and ask Samaritan about this. I am sure they have others in the same situation.

Interesting that you didn’t reach them by number. I have never had trouble with that. They have more than one number I believe, with people manning the phones.

It’s a great ministry to be a part of. I don’t think you will be disappointed. I’ve been with them 6 years with no problems.

Hi….. I have been having great difficulty understanding this $300 sharing. If I have a family of 4 and have two incidences of $500 each within the 12 month period, are these sharable or do I need a third incident over $300 before anything can be shared?

Thanks

Sharing begins with the first qualifying need of at least $300. Qualifying just means it meets the guidelines and isn’t a preventative checkup or pre-existing issue. So in your example both of those needs would be shared. If you had no discounts on the $500, then Samaritan would share $200, you would pay $300. If the bill was actually $1000 and you got discounts down to $500, then Samaritan would share the entire $500 because the discounts you got ate up your $300 portion. 🙂

First, THANKS so much for doing this comparison. I appreciate the time you have taken to pull this together. For our station in life and purposes, I think we are going with CHM, but again, this is valuable info. I did want to mention that I literally went over this site with a CHM rep, and a couple of things that you might want to “tweak”. One, the point about requiring people to apply for government aid isn’t quite exactly how you put it, when she explained it to me. I am no fan of governmental help, and thus I share the concern, but her explanation satisfied me, and again, I think if you spoke with a CHM rep, you might word that section differently. The other thing is that it is Medi-Share, not CHM, that has had a little problem with several states because of being too much like insurance. She assured me that this hasn’t happened with CHM. Once again though, I do so much appreciate your doing this; it is a blessing to know that as believers, we have options other than horrid Obamacare!

Hi Bryon. I’m so glad you found that joining a ministry is a good choice for your family! The info on the gov’t help actually came from CHM through letters to their members that were shared with me. I think they must keep tweaking their process. Their last bit of info from them is posted is a letter posted on one of the comments on this page, I think it made reference to institutional Medicaid and being on it only for the duration of that illness (still more than I want). I’m so glad the info she gave you was satisfactory. I’ve had a few different versions of what they require and I’m glad their process is a fit for you. 🙂 I think CHM is a good ministry. The issues they had in the past seem to be behind them, some of it under a different name. I only mention it in case people want to research on their own then they have a starting point. I’m glad the site was useful to your research. I chose Samaritan, but I rejoice in seeing all the ministries grow when the foundation is in Christ and gives people a more logical way to manage and pay for their healthcare during rather uncertain times. Congratulations on taking such a worthwhile step. 🙂 God bless and Merry Christmas!

And to you as well!

Hi, It’s me again! The question is about Medicare and Medicaid. I definitely want to stay out of government subsidy health care. I don’t want to get mixed up in Medicare and Medicaid, although I am reaching the age where I’m told that I will “need” to get in the government trap.

Does Samaritan require elderly members to be on Medicare or Medicaid?

Does Samaritan have any special program that elderly members can join?

Also, does Samaritan cover dental expenses?

Thank you for this excellent website. God bless.

Samaritan doesn’t require anyone to be on a government program, elderly or not. If a member chooses to get on Medicare that’s fine, it becomes first payer and Samaritan shares anything Medicare doesn’t. If you skip Medicare then everything is submitted to Samaritan for sharing. There are no special programs for the elderly with Samaritan, rates are the same whether you’re 26 or 106 (which also means they don’t go up with age). Dental expenses are generally shared only as part of the Special Prayer Need program, which is all voluntary contributions. It’s not part of regular sharing. There are a few exceptions, such as injury from a fall (but not from eating). Routine dental care (cleanings, cavities, etc) is something we budget for and then if we would need something major like braces those we would submit that as a special prayer need. We wouldn’t likely get all of the need shared, but even a small contribution is better than nothing. Our family looked into dental insurance and in our area it basically only covers an amount equal to what you pay in premiums. Didn’t make much sense when we could just put that money in savings instead. The Guidelines section VIII.8 on page 25 go into dental sharing limitations in more detail.

We are a Christian family but have never attended church on a regular basis. We have been speaking with members of a nearby church and have been considering joining. If we start attending regularly how long before we can qualify for Samaritan ministries?

To my knowledge Samaritan has no set official time frame. It would be more about how long is necessary for the pastor to feel comfortable vouching for you. For some that is just a couple of weeks and a conversation, for others it may be a couple months. It’s a little bit of an honor system. There are people who have changed churches (thereby having no history at the new church) in the middle of joining Samaritan and it’s worked out fine. I had a friend join Samaritan who wasn’t a regular church goer, but we went for a couple of weeks before talking to her pastor and then joining Samaritan. She has remained a faithful attendee. Me personally, I would be comfortable going 2-3 weeks and then talking to the pastor. I don’t know what your timeline is for joining, but obviously the sooner the better. 🙂 You could also call Samaritan to get their take on it. If you start going and intend to maintain it that really should be fine.

I have a question about church membership/attendance with Samaritan and CHM.

Currently, my husband attends a church that I do not feel comfortable attending. At all. I wish we could find somewhere to worship together, however, he really likes the people who attend this church. We have a 17-year-old daughter who does not wish to attend at all although she does follow our rules on Christian living. I did call Samaritan and posed the question concerning my daughter and was told that when she turns 18 (in June), she either needs to suddenly attend church or find her own healthcare plan. Okay, that seemed kind of harsh to me, especially since she won’t graduate from high school until 2017. Still, I’m mostly concerned about my not attending at the moment. I was just wondering if my husband being head of household and attending would allow us to participate in one of these programs. The man who signs off on such applications at the church where my husband attends already told my husband that he’d glad vouch for him and this man knows that I do not attend. BTW, many, if not most, of the congregants are Samaritan members.

Anyway, just curious about your thoughts on this matter. Thanks.

Hi Elena. First of all, I’m kinda jealous that so many of the congregants at his church are Samaritan members. 🙂 I think we’re the only ones at our church, but there are several at a neighboring one. Anyway… for your situation I would suggest that you find a church of your own that you like. When I grew up there was a family where the parents went to different churches and the kids picked which one they wanted when they became of age (one Catholic, the other not). It worked out great for their family. In your shoes I would find my own church and have them also sign the form. It’s honest, you’re both attending, and you could easily participate. You could include a note explaining the double signatures. I’m sure they want you both attending, not just him. Since I don’t work at Samaritan I am in the process of checking with them to see if my suggestion is ok. I will update this comment when I know more. Thanks so much for asking. 🙂
Update: Samaritan confirmed that either two signatures from two different pastors/churches is fine, or if one of the pastors knows you both well enough that is also fine, but you do both need to attend church. So finding your own church and getting your own separate signature is no problem. I also asked about your daughter and the Section II. Household Members area of the guidelines discusses the rules about there requirements of members age 18 and up. Maybe she will enjoy going to the church you start attending if she doesn’t like the other one. And if you explain to her why attendance is important it may also help. I don’t know. I pray she is able to find it in her heart to attend. Thank you for asking and giving me something more to learn. God bless!

Does anyone know which Christian health care ministry shares holistic/alternative treatments? My family would prefer non traditional medical care.

Samaritan Ministries and Liberty Healthshare are the only 2 ministries I know of which provide sharing for some alternative treatments. If you are considering both of them you’ll want to call to see if your preferred treatment methods are included in their sharing processes. That option is one of the things I really like about Samaritan.

I am wondering if purchasing a supplemental catastrophic health insurance policy as an extra measure of security is wise or unwise. I understand that there are some policies offered with $100,000 (and even higher) deductibles. I’d appreciate any thoughts or insights.

It’s a matter of personal preference, but we didn’t feel it was necessary for our family. Samaritan’s membership shares needs up to $250,000 (that’s a lot when you factor in the big discounts people get) and then their Save to Share program is designed for needs going above $250,000. The largest need to date with samaritan was $1.5 million, discounted by providers down to about $700,000, and it was all paid by member shares because the patient was a member of Samaritan’s Save to Share. The cost for S2S is very minimal. One of my thoughts was that mixing insurance in could complicate the process of getting cash pay discounts, figuring out when insurance would kick in, etc. I didn’t want to add to the paperwork or cause any delays or stress. Samaritan and insurance are like oil and water in my mind, insurance has an entirely different goal in mind… their own profits. And it seemed like I’d be throwing money away since Samaritan already provides the sharing for those things at those very high levels. If Samaritan didn’t have S2S then I probably would have done it. But with S2S it just didn’t seem necessary.

Hello, I see you’re quite knowledgeable on this topic and would like to know if you could help me out. My father had a heart attack earlier this year, and treatment in the ICU and emergency room and all that rose up to around $150,000 still remaining to be paid…because, welcome to America. He needs to have a doctor’s visit once every month or 2 to get blood drawn out and then to get a new batch of medication. The medication costs about $100 each time and the visit to the doctor ranges anywhere from $100-$300 depending on what kind of visit it is and what tests are done, if blood is drawn, etc. In addition, if any extreme pain is ever being felt and he needs to go to the doctor for an emergency X-ray or whatnot, THOSE bills are the ones that hurt more and reach the thousands.

Considering everything that I’ve explained, what do you think is the best choice and will either cover everything I described? From the recent gigantic hospital bill from earlier this year, to the routine mandatory heart doctor visits, the medication he needs to buy every couple months, and the big bills that arise if an emergency X-ray is needed or CAT scan.

We currently have a family of 5, 2 parents and 3 children living here. My mother also takes medication for high-blood pressure, joint pains, and so on. Medicaid won’t approve us other than 1 of the children. The healthcare options we approve for are insane to accept with the deductibles they offer in the thousands. What’s the point of paying for the healthcare each month if you must then pay anywhere 5k-20k out of pocket for the deductible…until it runs out?
That’s baffling.

Speaking of, do any of these 2 organizations work on the deductible system as well?

If anything, I don’t know if it might be BEST to not go with either option and just pay the ACA penalty fee at the end of the year, if that would be more cost-saving (barring any emergency X-ray or CAT scan visits). But I have no idea either way.

If you can help me out, it’d be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Hi Cristian. First of all, my prayers for your dad and your family as you deal with his medical concerns. I pray he heals and gets relief from his pain. I am really not qualified to give you any significant advice on your dad’s situation, but I will answer the best I can. Of course I recommend speaking with each ministry you are considering for their professional opinion on what is shareable.

I’m inferring that there is no insurance for him now, based on the large bills not being covered. Unfortunately he will likely pay the ACA fines when he files taxes for this year, even if he joins a ministry or insurance as the tax savings are not retroactive. You should check into the hardship exemption though, as cost factors could possibly give you some relief there. Check with your tax professional. Relief from the fine would come for 2016 (taxes filed in early 2017) if you get insurance or join a ministry.

With the heart issues your father has, I’m not sure a health sharing ministry is a good fit for him. It would provide prayer support and financial sharing for new needs unrelated to any PECs, but his most pressing issues right now would be shared as a Special Prayer Need and counted as pre-existing conditions under any ministry. The Special prayer needs would provide some assistance on those pre-existing costs, but there’s no way to know how much. However, with no insurance, you could check into self pay discounts and any charity/financial aid options the hospitals have. The hospital rack rate is very high and can be lowered to a more reasonable rate. You may be surprised at what you qualify for. Also check with your church about any support there or possible fundraisers. CHM’s step up PEC policy may not apply if he’s not in maintenance mode. You may want to consider having him get his own insurance policy and having the rest of the family join a health sharing ministry. That would help keep costs down. I don’t like the idea of splitting up the family coverage types, but this may call for some creativity.

Possible scénarios:
1. Join Samaritan on the family rate with mom/3 kids, so then dad may as well join, too (no raise in monthly cost). But I would recommend researching the cost of a single insurance policy for him as primary with his higher risk of recurring heart related issues.
2. If you join CHM (mom/3 kids) it would be 2 units ($300 on gold plan), while dad gets his own insurance policy. CHM has cheaper metal units (silver/bronze) but they don’t provide as much sharing as the gold plan.
3. Any adult children (18-25) could join Samaritan on their own if that is helpful. I don’t know how CHM handles children joining on their own.

You listed a few meds for your mom, long term meds aren’t shared by these ministries anyway. Look into goodrx.com to see if there are cheaper pharmacies in your area for those meds (for each of them). Pharmacies can vary wildly in price. It could mean getting their meds at different pharmacies as you seek the lowest price. More leg work, but big savings. If she hasn’t been hospitalized for her HBP and it’s being controlled through diet or meds, then it is not seen as a pre-existing condition with Samaritan. I don’t know how CHM would see that, you would probably want to call them and ask.

The ministries don’t do deductibles the same as insurance companies, they have personal responsibility amounts which can be reduced dollar for dollar with the cash pay discounts members can get. It’s possible to have a $0 responsibility for those bigger events if the discounts are big enough. The chart above may explain that better.

Having even some members of the family join a ministry would eliminate the ACA penalties for them next year, and it may make the overall expenses less for your family while also reducing the overall risk and exposure to medical bankruptcy. Perhaps getting your dad on his own separate policy would make things cheaper and more manageable. Still a large deductible, but better than another $150,000 event. It’s not an easy decision, and we cannot know the future, but hopefully some of these options will help guide you to a solution that works. Please give each ministry a call to see how they would look at the health concerns in the family and make a pros/cons list for each one (including cost). Not counting your dad, CHM would be cheaper for the rest of the family, but they may or may not provide the “coverage” you are looking for. I wish I had better answers for you, but hopefully this will spur some ideas and possibilities. I will pray for your dad’s healing. God bless.

I am going through the process of choosing a new healthcare. I have the option to take a yearly subsidy from the company I recently retired from or get a Federal tax credit. Do you know if either of these would be an option if I sign up for Samaritan Ministries or Christian Health Ministries?

Thank You
Bob

I’m thinking the federal tax credit likely wouldn’t work, because while these ministries are ACA exempt they don’t count as insurance and the tax credits usually apply to insurance premiums. The subsidy from the company might be ok since it’s the company giving it out, but it would depend on the company’s rules. You’d want to speak with their HR department about it, to see if ACA exempt options which are non-insurance but still avoid the fine would qualify with their plan. I would personally pick the subsidy from the company, but I would double check their requirements and see what kind of paperwork they require in order to receive it. You wouldn’t have any kind of proof of insurance as a ministry member. But you would have ministry membership proof. My answer is the same whether you choose any of the health care sharing ministries. 🙂 Good luck and I hope at least one of those works out for you!

Hi Heather-
I am so glad to have been directed to your site from Samaritan and I’m wildly impressed with your knowledge and ability to communicate! BRAVA! I will be sending others here to check it out, as well.
My question: I am a fair skinned, redhead and am predisposed to skin cancer, just because of how I was made. I’ve had two tiny basil cell spots removed and have teeny pre-c spots on my scalp I keep under control with a checkup at my dermatologists every six months. Would that be considered pre-existing, and how would it be handled?
Other than that, I’m a healthy guy!
Thanks again for being such a source of info and assistance! Bless you!
Craig

I’m so glad this site is useful to you, Craig, and thanks for the compliments! 🙂 How your skin cancer issue would be handled will largely depend on when those two spots were removed. If it was at least 5 years ago then future cancer cases of the same type can still be shared. If it was less than 5 years ago then future cases would be shared as special prayer needs until you go 5 years with no symptoms/treatments/meds (basically “cured”) for it. New types of skin cancer are fully shareable right away, it must be the same type (basal cell) to be considered pre-existing. The thing I’d want more clarification on for you is the set of pre-c spots you’re watching. They aren’t cancer yet, so I think they could be shareable if they become cancerous 5 years later than the other two. It’s unlikely the pre-c spots would be some other kind of cancer, as 80% of skin cancers are basal cell. The fact that they currently exist is what I’m questioning… they exist, but aren’t cancerous… nothing is done by you until cancer shows… I need to check with Samaritan on that so see if it counts as a symptom, thereby restarting the 5 year clock. I will do some digging and update this comment when I know for sure. You should also contact them, as you may beat me to it and they’re just so nice to talk to anyway. 🙂 Checkups aren’t shared anyway, so the every 6 month appts would be out of pocket. You’d want to call the doc’s office to see what their cash pay rate is for those visits. I’ll get back to you as soon as I can! 🙂
Update: I finally got a break in my schedule so I could check in with Samaritan. After going over what I knew, they said they would need a little more information from you regarding the details of the spots that were removed and and more info on the spots you’re watching. There are nuances to this and enough variable “ifs” that only you would know about (timing/type/location,etc), so they were hoping you’d give them a call to go over it more specifically for you. If it ends up not being shareable it would be shared as a Special Prayer Need, but they could definitely help determine if full sharing is possible. I’m so glad you’re looking into the ministries, and wish you the best as you do your research! 🙂

I have been researching three companies and need clarification regarding the preexisting condition issue. Example: If, at the time I applied for membership, I were taking medication to prevent bone loss and in the future was diagnosed with osteoporosis or something similar would that be considered a preexisting condition? I am not currently diagnosed with and illnesses but do take 2 medications…I simply would like to know how that would affect me if something arises in the future.

I would appreciate any help you can provide.

Hi Dee. With Samaritan… if you don’t have osteoporosis now, then I’m pretty sure it would still be shareable if it develops after membership. We all take various vitamins and do things to try to keep ourselves healthy and prevent the onset of something we don’t have yet. I think you’re probably ok there, but as always, please confirm with Samaritan as I don’t know the details of your med history. We can still have a pre-existing even without a diagnosis, it could just be something with symptoms/treatments. Not knowing why you take those 2 meds, or why they were prescribed it’s hard to say if what they are targeting would be an issue later. Definitely run the specifics by Samaritan. To give you an example of how Samaritan views these things… someone earlier had asked about hypothyroidism. She has it now, but was worried about the share-ability of a potential future thyroid cancer she doesn’t currently have. Samaritan says that only the hypothyroidism is pre-existing, not some future cancer. They are not the same thing. That may also apply to your situation, but Samaritan and any other ministries you are considering would need to answer that directly as the reason you are on those meds in the first place may be important. They all handle pre-existings differently and will likely give slightly different answers. I wish you the best in your research! God bless.

Is this exempt fro ACA penalties in all states?? I have a buddy who says it is not exempt in Mass

Great question! That used to be true, but no longer according to the mass.gov website. It does appear to be good in all 50 states. That exemption didn’t hold in Mass originally, back before the ACA exemption requirements kicked in starting 2014. According to the Massachusetts gov website they indicate that the exemption holds true for their residents as well (ref link provided). I’m guessing that the federal exemption list trumped any state list since it is a federal fine and Mass residents who are members of a qualify health sharing ministry are just as exempt as the other states.
ref: http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/eohhs/healthcare-reform/updates/2013/131028.pdf

Hello,

I am looking at options for my family. Currently, we are on my COBRA paying astronomical premiums. I am wondering how these ministries would cover autism issues? I assume therapies and meds may not be paid, but what about hospital or treatment centers?

Hi Renee. Unfortunately, I don’t know enough about autism to say with any certainty. I know that long term meds would be out of pocket (try something like goodrx.com). Generally anything directly related to the autism could be seen as pre-existing, but I don’t know enough about what those issues are or why someone with autism would need to go to a hospital other than for the same reasons a non-autistic person would. I would think those general reasons would all be shareable (ie; accidents, illness, etc). Since you know the most about your situation and what reasons you would need to visit a hospital or treatment center related to autism, I would suggest calling the ministries and running your “what-if” scenarios by them. Give them specific examples you’re concerned about and see what the answers are. I wish I could be more help on this, but I’m not even sure what questions to ask on your behalf. I think you are your own best advocate here and I think speaking directly with each ministry you are considering would be wise. I’m quite sure all of them will have experience with this. Each ministry treats pre-existing conditions a little differently and I don’t even know if the ministries would consider autism a pre-existing condition or not. I’m glad you’re looking into the ministries as a possible solution and hope you find the answers you are seeking. I’m going to ponder this one for a while and do some research on my own so I can address this more in the future, but I won’t have any insight fast enough for you. 🙁 Thank you for asking and presenting me with something more to learn. God bless.

Thank you. I appreciate your candid response. I’m a little surprised that I didn’t see other inquiries about autism treatments and services, which include medical issues common to autism. I will certainly ask the questions and try to get back to the post to update. God Bless!

I have a question about qualifications, I am currently leaving my Catholic Christian church that I Have attended for the past 13 years, I have found a new Christian church but I am not a member (and still may look around) I can easily prove I attend mass every week somewhere by my tithing check, but I am not sure how that would effect my membership for samaritan??

I don’t think it would be a problem, as I’m sure there are members who have needed to change churches for one reason or another. The particulars of the timing you’ll want to run by a Samaritan staff member. It could be that you’ve attended enough at the new church prior to joining Samaritan that it really isn’t an issue. They may also have a provision for just this type of thing. You sound quite genuine and I don’t expect you to have any serious issues here. Give them a call for the best way to fill out that form. 🙂 (877) 764-2426

Thank you so much for posting all of this wonderful information! We have been researching CHM for several weeks, and appreciate all of the information on Samaritan too. I have one question I haven’t seen addressed here yet, thought it’s possible I haven’t read far enough. If you participate in CHM or Samaritan, can you take advantage of Health Savings Accounts? I’m thinking it would be really awesome if you could take the savings you have from regular insurance and put that money into an HSA. Has anyone out there got the answer to that, or has anyone got any advice for that?
I am thoroughly enjoying reading all your posts.

I do know the answer. 🙂 Currently members cannot use HSA’s if they are healthcare ministry members (applies to all ministries). There is legislation in the works to allow this to happen, but with all the hurdles in Washington I don’t expect it to move quickly through the system. As of late September there were 100 cosponsors to HR 1752. It would be awesome, but so far we are still waiting. I do think it will happen someday. Fortunately the ministries are a great solution on their own, the HSA’s would be the icing on the cake for many. Thanks for asking!

What about using a Flexible Savings Account (FSA) in combination with Samaritan Ministries? Legal or not?

You would want to check with your employer to be sure and it will probably depending on what you’re using the money for. It’s designed to be used on medical expenses, so the monthly share likely wouldn’t work because it’s not a medical expense. But your own out of pocket expenses I would think yes, especially if it’s for something not shareable (visits under $300, long term meds, dental needs, etc). It may get sticky if you use FSA money on something that is eventually shared, but I don’t know of an official ruling on it so it may be possible (and I personally think it should be allowed). An official resource I found is: https://www.healthcare.gov/flexible-spending-accounts/ but you should also check with your employer depending on what goal you have for that FSA money.

What does someone do about payments and receipts if they have no physical address? Can the monthly share bills be received via email?

I know a PO Box will work because some small towns won’t deliver to street addresses. But you will need a home base address in the U.S. to handle sending and receiving of shares and other Samaritan correspondence. You can see you share assignments and newsletters online, but the only way to receive is through postal mail if you have a need and I think the shares you sent must also come from the U.S. so they are delivered on time. Members overseas must have a U.S. based contact they run their information through, such as a friend or family member who’s willing to do the leg work back in the States. And all bills from overseas medical care must be translated into U.S. dollars.

I am newly married and my husband is a teacher he has great health insurance coverage paid mostly by the school but for him to add me makes our payment sky rocket to over $900 a month; which we can not afford. I was fined at income tax time last year for no coverage and I am worried about this year as well. What would you recommend for someone in my position?

Hi Cristina! You would be a great fit for a health care sharing ministry. You can join as a single even though you’re married if he wants to keep his school insurance plan. Samaritan’s cost for you to join as a single is $180/month and CHM’s single gold rate is $150/monthso CHM would be a little cheaper, but you’d want to review their two plans to see which one best fits your needs. I’m assuming these would be far cheaper than adding yourself to his policy. If you’ve gone most of 2015 without insurance you would likely pay a prorated penalty for not having coverage most of this year, but if you join a ministry now you probably wouldn’t pay that penalty for November or December and then all of 2016 would be penalty free as long as you stay a member. Talk to a tax man to see if you can possibly get a hardship waiver for the 10 months of 2015 you didn’t have coverage, that will depend on income, etc. I would suggest you join a health care sharing ministry right away. Much cheaper, great “coverage”, super friendly with almost no wait time on the phone (with Samaritan at least), and no ACA tax penalties. I absolutely love being part of Samaritan. It’s so freeing when you can choose any doctor, submit bills totaling over $300 for sharing, and knowing you have the full prayer and financial support of the membership if anything should happen. If you remain healthy with no issues you know you have protection but otherwise your day to day won’t change (just a lot less stress about taxes or worrying about the what-ifs).

Thank you for your very helpful blog. After reading all the information you provide, I am really hoping Samaritan Ministries will work for my family. My one problem is whether or not shares can be deducted as a medical expense for myself as an employee of my husband’s business. I was told that since Samaritan’s “premiums” are sent directly to members they would not qualify, whereas CHM’s might since they are sent to the organization for distribution. Would you have any information about this? The business expense of an employee’s medical plan is a significant deduction for us. Thank you.

Hi Erin. Actually, none of the regular monthly shares are tax deductible, whether you are with Samaritan or CHM (I confirmed on their website) or any other ministry. That is something you’ll give up no matter which ministry you choose. The regular monthly shares aren’t considered a donation (probably because it’s required in order to stay a member). Only the extra giving you do to Special Prayer Needs (Samaritan) or the Prayer Page (CHM) are deductible, but only if you send them to the company to process for you. If you live in Missouri then you can deduct shares from state taxes, but they are the only ones who allow it. We also have a small business and we considered that tax deduction when we made our choice about insurance vs joining Samaritan. The taxes do play a part in the math, but it wasn’t enough for us to pay those crazy high premiums and it even though the math still won, it also wasn’t just about the math. The math says we have to decide if it’s worth spending $3-4 to save $1. In the end it just didn’t make sense to pay such high premiums to save 25% of 33% of it in taxes, and still be left with huge medical bills and an insurance company with controlling interest over whether we can get the health care we need. When I realized the true impact of my doctor not having to ask permission from someone else to treat me, it was so powerful. I had a friend who was denied a needed medication by her insurance company. “They” didn’t think it was worth it. I have another friend who continuously has tests put off and delayed by their insurance. It’s one headache after another when the patients just want answers and help. Samaritan clears the path for that help, and quickly. The math still won for us, even without having the deduction, because I’m saving more in “premium” expenses than I would save in taxes. That may or may not be the case for you. The priceless bonus for us was gaining back control of our health care. Do the math for your business and family. Premiums + deductible – tax savings VS monthly shares + tiny personal responsibility – $0.00 tax savings. You might be surprised. Good luck with your decision, we LOVE Samaritan!

My hubby and I are considering Samaritan Ministries. I have had two miscarriages in the past three years (the last one was in March). I take progesterone to aide in conception if it were to happen again. If I had another miscarriage, would it be a “pre-existing” condition, it wouldn’t be cause by a previous miscarriage. However, my OBGYN did say that after a third miscarriage, doctors typically do a big test that can be very pricey to determine if the mother has a more extensive problem. Would this be covered? (I’m hoping three times a charm and my third pregnancy will result in a healthy baby!!)

Hi Carrie! My understanding is that a miscarriage is not considered pre-existing even if you have had them prior, although if the pregnancy began before membership then the standard sharing limits for an existing pregnancy could apply. I did get that confirmed by Samaritan. As for the testing your doctor mentioned, I did learn that Samaritan does have some sharing for tests like that (there are limitations, so please call Samaritan for clarification about that). Officially fertility testing/treatments aren’t shareable as per the guidelines, but there are apparently some shareable tests post 2nd miscarriage. (On a side note, I don’t know if insurance plans pay for fertility testing either, comments from my friends on insurance indicate their insurance policies don’t pay those, but perhaps it depends on the company and policy or other circumstances.) I certainly pray you do not have another miscarriage, and you have my sympathies for the ones you have already suffered. Yes, hopefully the 3rd time’s the charm and you get a beautiful baby soon! 🙂

My husband and I have been members of CHM (Gold level plus Brother’s Keeper for unlimited sharing on catastrophic bills) since early 2014 and are expecting our first baby this September. CHM has come through for us on 3 separate occasions so far, even though we’ve only been members for a year and a half, so I feel like they’ve shared more than what we’ve paid them in membership fees (called monthly gifts). They’ve shared a total of over $17,000 (after discounts) so far on all 3 medical needs, and we have more bills in the pipeline awaiting reimbursement for my current pregnancy. They have already reimbursed the full amount quoted by my doctor and hospital for my labor & delivery, so barring any complications or extra expenses at birth (also shareable), my biggest pregnancy expense has already been paid for by CHM well before my due date. We have no complaints whatsoever and they’ve always come through for us. With all that being said, I would respectfully like to correct some of the points you have made about CHM and also confirm/address a couple others:

1) In regards to CHM requiring members to use government assistance prior to having their bills shared, we have not found this to be the case. Yes, they have members who are on Medicare and Medicaid, but it’s not a ‘requirement’, rather merely a recommendation to also look for other sources of funding prior to seeking sharing through CHM. What they do strongly recommend, especially for bigger/catastrophic expenses like extensive hospital stays, cancer treatment etc, is to apply for financial assistance with the hospital, as most hospitals have funds set aside for financial assistance of patients who are unable to pay. This in many cases has resulted in huge bill discounts or even full bill write-offs, as most hospitals will apply a medical debt-to-income discount policy. This helps lower members’ bills for sharing and helps keep members’ monthly fees low (more on that later) and it’s in everyone’s best interests. But this is very different to requiring members to apply for government assistance programs, which I’m not aware of as a member and it’s never been required of me in any of my medical need submissions. Also, you do not need to wait to submit bills for sharing before you get a response on your financial assistance application – on the contrary, members are encouraged to submit bills for sharing as soon as they receive them to get them in the ‘queue’ for sharing, even if discounts or other financial assistance is pending. So the two can be done simultaneously.

2) It is not CHM that has run into legal trouble with some states for acting as an insurance company, but rather Medishare, that has been banned from even doing business in certain states. CHM is in good standing and available to residents of all 50 states to my knowledge. It also holds an A+ accreditation with the Better Business Bureau.

3) It is true that less things are eligible for sharing with CHM than with SM, however the other side of the coin of that (that I believe should have been emphasized, as it is something very important to prospective members) is that monthly gifts have only gone up ONCE in the 30+ years of CHMinistry’s operations. Specifically, around 2000, the Gold level rate went up a modest $30 per unit (to $150/unit vs. $120/unit previously) and has NEVER gone up again since. This means, CHM members have much more predictable expenses and can rest assured that their monthly gift amounts (aka membership fees) will remain unchanged year after year. My understanding is that this is not the case with SM or Medishare, for which monthly fees have already gone up a few times in recent years.

4) Another very important point that should have also been emphasized is that CHM pledges (and follows through) to share 100% of all eligible bills every time, no exclusions. SM pro-rates sharing on months when there are not enough funds to cover 100% of all needs, which is not the case with CHM. I can also personally attest to that having had 100% of my eligible bills shared by CHM on every single need submission (3 so far as mentioned above). I feel both points (3) and (4) are very important and need to be mentioned, as for my husband and I the financial predictability and peace of mind they afforded were what tipped the scale in favor of CHM, and I’m sure other people would like to know that.

5) With regards to Brother’s Keeper (CHM’s optional program for catastrophic bills on top of their regular sharing program) is based on actual needs per quarter and it’s not merely an estimate. CHM divides the total of the actual amounts in the Brother’s Keeper program in any given quarter and divides them equally among member units participating in the program. The average quarterly amount per unit is still around $25/quarter, however we’ve had quarters when our obligation was a mere $11/unit because needs for that quarter were low. This helps make Brother’s Keeper participation much more affordable for most members.

6) With regards to the personal responsibility amount, just like SM, CHM also credits any discounts obtained by the member towards the personal responsibility amount. In cases of larger discounts, the personal responsibility can even be waived (in fact this has been the case on all 3 of my medical need submissions – in the end I paid $0 out of pocket!). Also, while the $1,000 personal responsibility for Silver members and the $5,000 for Bronze members are per incindent, this is not the case with the $500 for Gold members. If a Gold member has met their $500 PR amount for the year (either through paying for it or through provider discounts), any subsequent needs of that member in the same year are no longer subject to the $500 PR, but are shared at 100% from the first dollar.

7) It is true that existing maternity needs are not eligible for sharing upon joining. However, unofficially, I’ve seen the occasional pre-existing maternity need being published on the Ministry’s Prayer Page for voluntary donations.

8) Members with pre-existing conditions who reach their sharing limit can still have their remaining bills shared to 100%, since these are published on the Prayer Page for voluntary donations and stay there until 100% covered. It can take several months, but members do have such needs fully covered in the end.

9) Last but not least, it is true (and unfortunate in my opinion) that CHM doesn’t share funds for medical transportation with the exception of transportation between hospitals for life threatening situations only at the Gold level. If someone asked me what is the biggest disadvantage of CHM, I would probably point them to this limitation. However, even if not ideal, there are some ways around that. First, as stated in some previous comment, many Counties’ Fire Departments offer this service for free, as it is funded by taxpayer dollars. For the rest of the people, most ambulance transportation companies have financial assistance programs (just like most hospitals) for people with difficulties paying, so asking for discounts in those cases is definitely worth it and has a pretty good chance of working. Also, payment plans will most always be available, just like with hospital and other big medical bills. For road accidents, if one’s auto insurance includes coverage of medical expenses (CHM strongly recommends members set a generous amount of medical coverage on their auto policies, though no specific amount requirement), medical transportation will most likely be covered under that contract. For non life threatening situations that still require medical transportation (e.g. if one has a broken leg and needs a ride to the hospital) there are a bunch of non-emergency medical transportation companies or even taxi companies with drivers trained in assisting disabled/incapacitated people that cost a mere fraction of what emergency transportation would cost. These usually charge a call/pick-up fee plus a fee per mile, and end up costing the equivalent of a taxi ride compared to using an actual ambulance and being out up to a couple thousand $$$. So for us, knowing that CHM has this sharing limitation, we have researched and have a list of 3-4 such local companies we can call if a need arises. It pays to do research in advance and be prepared.

Thank you for reading!

I also forgot to mention, when a family has their first child (like us) and their membership goes up by one unit, the first 3 months of baby membership are free of charge with CHM. During this time, any eligible bills the baby incurs are shareable as normal, but it is a courtesy of the Ministry that the family is not charged as 3 units until 3 months after the baby’s birth. Just like SM, the maximum unit number per family is 3, so essentially families pay only for the first child no matter how many more kids they may have.

It’s nice they don’t charge the baby’s share for the first 3 months. Samaritan’s family structure is similar in that the family rate is the same no matter how many kids you have. It’s a great thing and VERY different from insurance. For bigger families that’s something that makes Samaritan and CHM both so attractive. 🙂

Hi Christina – I am just wondering if you are still with CHM and are happy with your experience. Thanks.

Christina, thank you for giving such a great review on how CHM is working for your family. In response to just a few of your points… 1. You’re right, Medi-share is not allowed in all states and CHM is. I go into that in other pages. However CHM has actually run into quite a bit of legal trouble themselves, largely during their time under another name of Christian Brotherhood. But I won’t detail it here as they appear to have rectified those issues. 2. Regarding payment processes, CHM handles it differently than SMI in that they pay first come first serve and do not prorate whenever needs are greater than available funds. Not prorating means some CHM members have waited a long time for any kind of payment because the funds just weren’t available and they were farther down the list. This has been stated in other reviews. SMI takes the other route and prorates if funds are short, but members get the bulk of their money quickly and only have to wait a bit for a small portion. Sounds like needs submitted to CHM and SMI have both been met 100% so it’s just a matter of method and timing. 3. CHM hasn’t raised rates in a while, Samaritan has, but even with the increases (voted on by members) SMI’s family rate is still cheaper than CHM gold ($405 vs $450). Samaritan’s regular membership also shares twice as much at $250k instead of $125k per need. (During our own research time it made me wonder why CHM’s family rate would be more expensive while having 1/2 the sharing limit.) Samaritan also reduces shares when there are excess funds, CHM does not. Just two different ways of doing things. I think both ministries are doing a great job of keeping costs lower for their members. 4. You mentioned Brother’s Keeper, SMI’s Save to Share also only asks for the money necessary and not more. Because SMI’s basic sharing program shares twice the amount of CHM’s, more needs are going to land in Brother’s keeper status than with SMI. As a result, the obligation for Brother’s Keeper’s members would statistically be higher than those with Samaritan’s Save to Share. Again, two different ways of doing it. 5. The medicaid issue is a murky one. I’ve had other members tell me it was required for them to apply, some said they were just strongly encouraged, a letter here says it’s “institutional Medicaid” not “community Medicaid.” I’m glad you didn’t have to. I always suggest that anyone concerned about that issue speak with CHM directly. With the varying info I’ve gotten maybe they have tweaked their rules over time. I know that Samaritan doesn’t encourage it or require it, period.
Overall, I think both ministries serve a great need in our country and I’m sure this site has sent a few members in CHM’s direction if they found it a better fit. There are thousands out there who cannot afford insurance, and aren’t getting the financial benefit they need even when they have it. CHM and Samaritan are excellent options for those people and which ministry’s program someone chooses will depend on how their own needs fit. I am so glad that being in a healthcare sharing ministry is working for you and for so many others. I am so thankful it is a valid option under the ACA.

Thanks for the analysis Christina. I am glad CHM is working so well for you. You answered a lot of questions.

I am grateful for CHM allowing for individual units. If my husband decides to stay on his work plan, I will only need 2 units ( one for me, one for the children) and won’t be forced to have to pay for him again as part of CHM. Both Medishare and Samaritan’s required me to be divorced or a single parent to pay for just myself and the children. I think it allowed more options for me and was more affordable on the bronze plan for my family. thank you all.

I’m in exactly the same boat and found the same thing. My hubby’s work covers him 100% with a great plan but not us. CHM will end up being quite a bit cheaper for us than the other health shares and insurance, even at the Gold level with Brother’s Keeper.

We were already on separate insurance but they stopped carrying our plan, and we do NOT want to sign up on the marketplace. From what I could find, our premium would be going up considerably, as well as our out of pocket being quite a bit higher :/

Thank you for your reply! It answered some of the questions that I had 🙂

My wife is a teacher, and she has a decent AETNA insurance plan with $2,000 deductible for $450 a month (just the 2 of us). We are thinking about Samaritan Ministries because we like the philosophy and the biblical principles, and we think it will actually save us money. We are also opposed to government intervention – specially on health insurance, etc.

So my questions are:
1) is there an age limit (for my dad who is 75)? It seems like it would cost too much money for the ministry to “insure” (you know what I mean) someone who is that age.
2) You are trusting other members to send the check if something may happen. What will happen if a member (or many members) don’t send a check? Will you have to wait another month or so for SM to assign a new person for you? And what will happen to that person that didn’t send the check? Does SM kick him out? Have you seen that happen?

3) Is there a time limit to send the check? (like the first 5 days of the month)? Is there a “penalty” for late sharing? (as crazy as that sounds!) And can you do the sharing online?

4) I am a numbers guy, and I am having headaches trying to figure out how SM can assign the exact amount that every person need from different shares etc. But my question is: If one month, they receive $1,000,000 on share requests, and the members are giving $1,200,000. What will happen to the other $200,000? Where do they send that money to? Where do they put that extra money? I understand they may cut the share amount, but they cannot cut and increase it every month accordingly. I also understand that if they have less money, they will pro-rate it, and they may pay the remaining in months to come (right?). Have you seen that happen?

Thank you!

Hi Edgar, thanks for writing. I will answer the best I can. 🙂
1. There is no age limit. Samaritan is perfectly fine with its elderly members going without Medicare, but I would imagine that many of them do have it. It doesn’t seem to be a problem cost wise. Depending on each person Samaritan may or may not be cheaper than another Medicare supplement since they are income based. I initially thought having unlimited family sizes all at the same rate could be a problem, too, but it also hasn’t been an issue. The fact that it isn’t is just further testament to how well members are able to keep costs down.
2. The problem of not receiving a share is very low, almost nil. Usually when it happens it’s because of someone forgetting or mail delivery issues and then after Samaritan gives them a reminder it’s taken care of quickly. Sometimes it has to be reassigned the next month. SM handles all of those case by case, they have a sponsorship program for members who are having temporary hard times I think, so it doesn’t automatically get members kicked out depending on the reasons. But it can happen I suppose. I’ve not heard of it happening, but then I don’t work there either. I’ve actually only read of one review where someone had a few late shares (toward end of month) and one that likely had to be reassigned. Otherwise it sounds like everyone gets their shares during that proper timeframe.
3. Shares are due by the 15th of the month. No penalty (fee) for being late that I’ve heard of, but I imagine if someone is routinely reported as being late Samaritan could contact them about it. From what I’ve read and heard, members truly enjoy getting their monthly share assignments and make effort to pay them quickly. It’s not like a regular bill for most of them, it’s a way to reach out to someone in need and participate in the body of Christ. It’s worshipful, prayerful and something they do with a full heart. Sounds over the top, I suppose, but I can relate. I get cranky if my share assignments are delayed a day by postal holidays! 🙂 I LOVE sending my shares and notes, praying for the member and reflecting on someone other than myself. It’s not a “bill” for us.
4. (I’m a numbers person, too 🙂 ) If there are more shares than needs, Samaritan reduces the amounts we send for that month. It’s happened quite often recently. We had 4 months in a row that were reduced by varying amounts (5%, 8%, etc), then a few months at full shares, then in May we had another 5% reduction. I think most of the exactness of being able to pay shares perfectly comes from the Save to Share members. I’ve had some pretty specific amounts for S2S (ie: $24.32, 47 cents, $13.56, etc), and I’m guessing not everyone has exactly the same “to the penny” requested. But I honestly don’t know. It’s also possible they just get really close, like within $5-10 and call it good. I’ve read so many reviews of people getting everything to the penny, though, so logically that Save to Share variation makes sense. Amounts are figured every month. So yes, they can have some months that are at the full rate ($405 for us) but varying reductions for other months. It won’t be over $405 though, unless members vote on a rate increase. If prorating is required sometimes they roll a portion of needs into the next month, it depends. I have more details about prorating here: Prorating Details. My understanding is all prorated amounts have been met in one fashion or another.

CHM and SM are so similar, and so good, that it was hard to make a decision, but I think we are going to go with SM. And one of the main reasons is because with CHM you need to be a member for at least one month before you can be eligible. So If we start our membership today, and in 3 weeks, we get pregnant, then they won’t cover (or share) the cost of maternity! We will be trying to have a baby soon, and we don’t want to have the fear of “what would happen if…”. Thank you for all your help!

Glad to hear it, Edgar, and I’m glad I was of some help with your decision. I’m so glad you’re choosing a healthcare sharing ministry, I just continue to be so thrilled with how the process works for members and the ministry as a whole. Congratulations and best wishes for your future pregnancy! 🙂

I am in my early 70’s and worked and retired overseas, but may go back to the USA at some point. I will not take Medicare B becasue I cannot use it overseas and will not be penalized until I return to the USA. I was under the impression fomr other websites that CHM did not require Medicare B, but Samaritan did. Which is true?

I really do not like the concept for sending my money to someone different each month. We need to keep our bank account numbers away fomr as many eyes as possible. There is too much fraud. What a nuisance to habe to do it each month when one could do it only one time a year. I would forget or get or get up tight. They could send us a prayer list and underline the name of the person who was getting my share. If I wished to write them I could–but no bank and no email as viruses, worms, etc. are not welcome.
I am so grateful to God for showing me these alternative plans. Medi-share won’t work for my age group. Liberty may be too secular for me.

I will try to tackle your main issues in list format to figure out the best option.

Regarding Medicare: Samaritan does not require joining Medicare. Neither does Liberty. But Liberty will not share the portion of your need which Medicare would have paid (per their guidelines), whereas Samaritan will still share in full all qualified expenses. CHM and Medishare both require Medicare membership. In fact Medishare has a specific program at a reduced rate for those 65+ called Senior Assist though it does require Medicare membership.

Monthly sharing: I read that CHM allows for prepayment of monthly shares (possibly a year at a time) based on another comment on this blog. Samaritan can not offer that because of the member to member sharing, and I’m not sure on the others’ policies (I would suggest calling them if that is priority for you). Samaritan requires overseas members to have a USA point of contact to handle those shares/payments/share receipts. You could send payments using a cashier’s check if that helps. You could even open an account just for Samaritan shares. Members are trusting each other with their medical bills and standing on a foundation of Jesus Christ, I personally think my check is safer in the hands of a Samaritan member than any company/store I use, but that is an issue for personal preference. And we’re only talking about 11 checks a year going to members, it’s not a deluge. You can submit Special Prayer Need money direct to Samaritan if you prefer. The bigger issue may be needing a USA point of contact for monthly newsletters/shares, I don’t know how hard that would be for you.

Christian based: Samaritan, CHM and Medishare are all strictly Christian, you are correct that Liberty is more secular.

From reading your comment and working out the issues, it looks like you will need to determine which issue is the most important to you. If avoiding direct sharing is your priority, then Samaritan is not a good choice for you. But all the others will either require Medicare or penalize you for not having Medicare. That could be a problem. If avoiding Medicare is priority, then either Samaritan or Liberty would be best, but Liberty’s financial penalty for not having medicare must be accepted and it could be expensive if you have a need.

I wish you luck as you decide, and I trust that God will provide a path for you. Once you narrow down your priorities I suggest calling the ministries that fit and getting a feel for which one has the best process for you and meets your requirements.

We are weighing the differences on Samaritan vs. CHM. We are a family of 6 and I have a few pre-existing conditions…HBP, sleep apnea and premature atrial contractions. The only issue I see that might be an issue is a surgical procedure for my PAC. As I understand it with Samaritan, it will be considered a pre-existing condition and will not be shared but possibly might only be considered under a special need. Therefore, I may be on my own with expenses for that procedure. Do you know if CHM will treat it the same way?

Samaritan members with special prayer needs often receive very generous amounts to help cover those expenses. But as you know they aren’t guaranteed. I would suggest presenting your concerns to Samaritan to see what they say regarding your specific conditions as some conditions drop out of pre-existing (PEC) status faster than others (many after just 1 year if there are no treatments/symptoms/meds). CHM has a step up policy for Gold level members who have PECs which are in maintenance mode that offers $15,000 during year 1, another $10,000 year 2, another $25,000 year 3, after which it’s no longer pre-existing. If your condition is actively being treated then that policy wouldn’t apply (and be sure to join as a Gold member). I know that God provides. Both ministries have solid programs. I’m so glad you’re looking at health care sharing ministries, they are such a wonderful solution.

I have used Medi-share in the past and considered Samaritan Ministries, but didn’t. I am considering Samaritan Ministries again, however, I read that your pastor has to sign for the application and each illness that is shared. Since I am the pastor, how does that work for me?

Neat question and thanks for asking! 🙂 You can also have a church officer (Deacon, board member, etc) or someone else to whom you are accountable sign the forms. A simple explanation of that relationship should suffice. You would be heartily welcomed, and I hope you decide to join. It is a wonderful ministry! 🙂
Update Nov 2016: Samaritan no longer requires a pastor signature for each illness/need. Signatures now are only for the application and renewal forms.

I work weekends in an emergency clinic. My husband works during the week. We have attended a home based church service when we can get together. Our kids go to Faith Formation classes and my in laws were clergy in the Catholic Church. How can we meet the religious requirements when our home based church intentionally does not have a leader?

Tracy, you should definitely call Samaritan about that scenario. They would know if there are any options regarding that. Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

The religious part of the form allows a signature by a pastor, or by “someone who keeps you accountable,” and there is room to explain that relationship.

We have been very pleased with Samaritan Ministries.

Members have paid for 3 hernia operations (one in Canada), a broken arm and diabetes and hormonal problems. They will pay for medical care anywhere in the world as long as the bill is in US dollars and is in English.

Among the Christian population, there is obviously heavy demand to join Christian healthcare ministries.

According to the latest Samaritan Ministries newsletter, last month (January, 2015) 3,600 families joined Samaritan Ministries. There are now over 40,000 member families.

Some of the information above is a little out of date.

There is actually an annual fee which is equal to a regular monthly share that is sent to the office instead of to a family. It is sent in during the anniversary month of joining Samaritan Ministries. In my case that is $360 for my wife and myself.
At that time you also need to send in a renewal form signed by a leader in your church that verifies that you are still meeting the membership requirements.

Samaritan Ministries will prorate bills if there are not enough shares to cover the needs. On the other hand, there was more than enough money available during the last two months of 2014, so the cost of the monthly shares was substantially reduced to reflect that the needs were less.

I would make one last comment about ambulance services. It is covered; however, if you submit a bill for ambulance transportation, Samaritan Ministries may request you to verify that the ambulance was necessary and the only way to safely get the patient to the hospital. Apparently a lot of people use an ambulance ride as a convenience rather than a necessity.

Thanks for sharing your experience as a Samaritan member! So glad to hear you have been well supported in your various needs. I need to clarify though, there really is no annual fee. (I checked to Samaritan to be sure nothing had changed) 🙂 The term annual fee implies that additional money is sent once a year on top of your monthly share. In Samaritan’s case, one share per month is sent to the main office for admin expenses, but it’s not a separate fee on top of another share that same month; so you’re still just sending 12 month shares with one going to the office instead of a member. The other ministries take a portion of each month’s share that comes into the office to cover their expenses, but Samaritan can’t do that since we send direct to other members so that’s why one full share goes in to the office instead. There is a $200 application fee (one time) and if you join Save to Share that has a $15 annual fee just for that, but the general membership no long has that annual fee (they used to do it that way, not any more).

You are correct on the sharing for ambulances. We cannot use it as a taxi, it must be medically necessary. And praise God, there are now over 43,000 member families, Samaritan is growing by leaps and bounds!

I’m self employed in seasonal work and would like to pay half or all of it when I have the money, is that possible when you send it to an individual?

I’m not quite sure what you mean. Monthly shares are due in full by the 15th of each month (a full share may be reduced if that month happens to have fewer member needs). Partial payments or extra payments (like 2-3 months at once) are not an option since the receiving member changes each month. In your case if you get a bigger chunk of your income seasonally you may want to create a savings account during that higher income period to hold multiple months worth of shares and pay out of that each month…like your own little escrow account for monthly shares. However, I may have misunderstood your question. 🙂

You can pay ahead at Christian Healthcare Ministries

I have a history of kidney stones. Would that be covered? I haven’t had any for 2 years. Just trying to figure out the different options. We have 2 young children and are self employed.

I want to say that kidney stones are isolated events so they would probably be shareable for you, but I will try to get confirmation for you as I’m not 100% positive. Thanks for asking.
Update: I checked with Samaritan, any new kidney stone you have is fully shareable because it has been more than 12 months since you had one. The rule is that it must be at least 12 months since your last treatment/medication/symptom related to kidney stones. Since you’re at the 2 year mark yours are shareable (as long as you join before another one happens). 🙂

Hello, Thank you so much for your dedication to this website and the comprehensive content. Before visiting your site, I was only aware of medi-share and now, I think we are leaning towards Samaritan for our family’s insurance ‘dilemma.’ We have 3 young children and are quite healthy, so I am a little worried about having to pay out of pocket for their well check ups and the inevitable sick visits. But, we have run a cost analysis and believe it will still be much cheaper to pay the monthly share plus out of pocket for these routine/sick visits versus an exhorbitant monthly insurance premium that offers ‘free’ child well visits and a low office visit co-pay for sick visits. My question is, how exactly do you negotiate discounts, say with a pediatrician, for both well checks and sick visits? Is it just as simple as asking what their cash discount policy is? And then you know that they will honor that for each visit?? And what do you do about all the lab/blood work? I’m used to having that covered 100% under traditional insurance. My oldest son had strep last October and when we took him in to the doctor, we had no idea first, that it was strep and second, what lab tests they would order at the on-site lab. Since we would be paying for these totally out of pocket now, how do you manage these: can you still ask for discounts after that fact or are you trapped into paying for whatever lab work is called for during the visit? I would imagine it is a change of mind-set and you become more of a consumer that questions the need for certain procedures/lab work – i.e., ‘do we really need to run these 3 ‘xyz’ tests first, or can we start with one test and see where that lands us?’ In the past, I have never questioned when a doc wants to run a few blood tests/cultures/etc., but now, if I’m paying 100% at a non-discounted price, I’d be more inclined to question the doc. I hope I’m making sense in what I’m trying to ask. I’m just not sure/can’t picture how routine/sick visits actually work with trying to obtain discounts. Can you shed any light?

Also, did I read somewhere that you have to have your pastor sign every time you have a need to publish?? Or was that just on the initial application to become a member of Samaritan? Thanks so much for any insight you can provide, I greatly appreciate it!

Happy to help. 🙂
1. Discounts for office visits are generally done by the billing dept. I just asked what their cash pay rate is. They do honor it every time (they make me ask), and I heard that it used to be less than it is now, so it’s possible that will continue to improve. Call your pediatrician’s office now and ask those pricing questions. You should also let your doctor know you have become self pay so he/she can get you more med samples, perhaps discount the charge ticket a little more, and be more cost conscious instead of running blanket tests. I have never run into problems here. My docs LOVE not having to answer to insurance companies.
2. Tests/visits/lab for strep would be shareable if it goes over $300. You’re right, you do become a better consumer and ask more about what’s necessary and what things cost. It’s good for them, and you. 🙂 Yes, you can ask for discounts after the lab is done, or before, whatever you wish. Many negotiations happen after treatment has happened. People in more urban areas have more choices, and you can sometimes get some lab tests scheduled off site (depending on circumstances) for much cheaper without seeing your pediatrician and have the results sent to your doc, but that’s not available where I live. I think even some pharmacies have lab options. If I can find some of that info I’ll post it here later (could probably google cheap lab work and find a lot of info). Most lab I can think of ends up being shareable either because of costs or combination of other charges for an illness, with the exception of annual lab work. If the bills for something like that are too big for your pocketbook, then you would pay your discounted office visit on the spot, and pay the lab portion later (usually they can’t bill lab on the spot anyway). Then you can pay them once your shares come in. If they want payment right away, the better consumer in you would already be asking better questions about necessity and telling them your payment timeline. Never feel trapped. You are taking back control of your health care from insurance blindness. It’s a good thing! 🙂
3. We get our annual lab work done at our local health fair. Very cheap comprehensive test that would normally cost hundreds during office hours. That’s not shareable anyway.
4. Update Nov 2016: a pastor is no longer required to sign the Samaritan need submission form, only the application and renewal forms each year. I’m now told CHM doesn’t require it either. Not sure how medi-share does it.
5. Samaritan can help with suggestions on where to find the better deals and methods for lab work also. Being self pay is different than we’re used to, but it works well and Samaritan is there to help us.

Hello- I am new to researching all this. Thank you for the time you are taking to educate people 🙂 Much appreciated!

So my question is this. Am I understanding this correctly:

If my husband and I are a couple on Samaritan, our monthly share or “premium” is $360. I do not send a $360 check to Samaritan each month but instead I am “assigned” persons to send money to based on their need and it adds up to $360/month? And then depending on the month, I may be sending multiple checks adding to $360 to multiple people?

and secondly:
If I am with Samaritan and I have a medical need exceeding $300 (let’s say I see a doctor for a sprained ankle and it costs me $1000) my need is published in the newsletter and others are assigned to send me multiple checks for the amount over $300?

Thank you for helping with specific examples, that’s how I understand things 🙂

1. You don’t ever send multiple checks adding up to $360. You would send your $360 to Samaritan’s office only once a year for administrative costs (1/12 months), the other 11 months Samaritan will send you a name/address of someone with a need and you send your $360 to them. It’s always just one check to one member each month for general needs. Now, if you want to send additionally to someone with a special prayer need (and I recommend it), that would be a separate check to that person (Samaritan assigns a special prayer need person as an optional gift). If there is a big Save to Share Need and you are part of that, then you would be told what to add to your $360 that month, but it would still go to that same person you were assigned. So if I am sending $360 to John Doe, and the save to share need for Jane Smith needed me to add $10 to it, I would just send $370 to John Doe. I would know about Jane’s large need and could send her a prayer card, but the money would have been assigned to others, not direct from me. That way Jane doesn’t end up with 50,000 little $10 checks for her huge need, they are consolidated. John Doe will get checks bigger than $360, but they still total up to his need, and Jane’s will total up to her larger need, but a more manageable amount of checks than if they were all small. I think it’s quite ingenious. 🙂
2. Yes, If your ankle cost is $1000 and you got no discounts from your doctor, then others would be assigned to send you what is needed to cover the remaining $700. But if your doctor gave you a $300 discount, then you still get $700 from others and you pay nothing toward that ankle yourself. Or if you get a $200 discount, you get $700 from others, and you cover $100 of it yourself. Discounts obtained apply to your portion of what’s owed, other members still share the remaining.

Thank you so much for your prompt reply, that makes sense! You’re a blessing!
🙂

If people send me checks for $360 each and my published need is $1100, won’t I end up getting $1440 when 4 checks come in? I don’t see how the flat $360 works.

Actually, not everyone would send you $360, there would be members at the $180 level (singles), some at the family rate of $405, young adults at lesser discounted rates, and any of those members of Save to Share who send a little extra certain months (we’ve had very odd dollar amounts added to ours like $6.28, $14.40, even just a few cents, etc), members with referral credits who would send less… with all the variations of amounts that people can send depending on their type of membership (single/couple/family/young adult/Save to Share, etc) then there are a lot of ways to combine the shares so the numbers match pretty close. Exactly perfect to the penny all the time seems impossible to me. Logically it seems that it would be off a couple bucks here and there, maybe they’re long or short $6, but that’s just math and logic speaking, not any work experience. I wish I could see that database and share assignment in action, but that’s just because I’m a numbers nerd and think it would be so awesome to work there. 🙂 I don’t know if they err to being over or under the mark by that tiny amount. $405, $360 and $355 (family young adult rate) would be $1120. Maybe the bill was actually $1122.45 and you’re short $2.45 (I’d be ok with that if it was my need) or maybe you get an extra $20 and you send it on the next month (I don’t know if they even do that). I haven’t seen anyone complain about the amounts they are assigned and with 46,000+ different shares to assign there would be a lot of options to get it very very close.
Update: I read another blog post about Samaritan and these members are getting 100% to the penny of their bills paid through shares. To the penny. So I think Samaritan tries to get it perfectly exact as much as possible. That’s so amazing to me. To God be the Glory.

My husband and I have been reading your reviews in consideration of joining Samaritan. As a follow up question, how does the Save a Share work? If we contribute to the Save a Share and another member’s needs exceed the $250,000 amount, such as $500,000 in expenses, what amount will be asked of us to send to that member? Will any funds be asked of those who are not Save a Share members? Are any funds be taken from the Save a Share funds held by Samaritan? As you can see, we are a little confused about where the funds come from for the higher medical costs of its members.
Thanks, Bette

Hi Bette. Thanks for asking! 🙂 Only members who have joined Save to Share can get the portion of their need above $250,000 shared (the first $250k is of course still shareable). The sharing for that is only among other Save to Share members. Not every member is part of S2S, but I heard it was over 1/2. The amount needed (another $250k in your example) is divided among all Save to Share members (not every Samaritan member, only those who are participating in Save to Share). The most you will be asked to send for any one Save to Share need is 1/2 of what you have available in savings. We’ve been part of it for 2+ years and put $399 each year (family rate) in our own savings account as part of that. In the first year we were asked to send about $85 total ($24 here, 45 cents there, nothing huge), and our second year was about $75 total. The unrequested money remains in savings, building up to a max of 3 yrs worth (3 x $399 for a family = $1197). If you don’t join Save to Share and have a need of $400,000 (after discounts), that extra $150k above the $250k regular sharing would be on your own plus anything from Special Prayer Needs. If you are part of Save to Share you would get it all fully shared without having to do it as a Special Prayer Need or covering a huge amount out of your own pocket.

The funds are not held by Samaritan. Participating members hold that money in our own savings accounts, as a commitment to other Save to Share members who may need it. Since we want to be sure our own potential bigger needs are fully shareable we chose to join Save to Share, put our designated amount in savings ($399/year for a family, $266 for a couple, $133 for a single), and then send it out in chunks whenever it’s called upon. The fact that we keep the money ourselves until it’s needed is another thing I love about Samaritan. We keep control and know exactly where it’s going. There are millions and millions of dollars being stored in member savings accounts right now just waiting for anyone who has a huge need above $250,000. And don’t forget the discounts. Generally very large needs also get very large discounts. So that $500k need in your example may be discounted down to $350k, so then only $100k is needed from save to share member savings accounts. Each case will be different, but Samaritan goes to bat for us to get those numbers reduced. I had heard there are about 10 Save to Share needs per year. Because Samaritan already shares $250,000 as part of the regular membership, and gets an average of 44% reductions on bills, there are not a lot that cross over $250k. But it can happen, and because it can happen to anyone I always recommend joining Save to Share so that there are no money worries on top of the scariness of a major event (heart issues, accident, cancer, etc). It just makes sense and is an incredible value for the low money required.

I am considering going with Samaritan Ministries. I am currently not pregnant but my husband and I have recently started trying again. My question is: how is it determined whether a pregnancy is a preexisting condition or not? A woman can be pregnant and not know it yet. So say I would get a plan that starts Feb 1st and as of Feb 1st, I’m not aware that I am pregnant. But then I find out on Feb 9th that I am and at that point, you are several weeks pregnant, how is that classified? Thanks!

I don’t know the details of that, although I think they go off conception date if its known, but I’m not 100% sure. Unfortunately we didn’t know about Samaritan for our children’s births or we would have used Samaritan instead! 🙂 If you call them they should be able to give you the particulars. I did read a comment by someone who found out very quickly after joining about a pregnancy and it was fully shared, but I don’t know all the details about that timing. It was close enough she was concerned, so I’m guessing she could have technically conceived a few days before membership, but that’s just my guess. They can tell you for sure. I will also try to find out tomorrow, but you may beat me to it because of my work schedule. 🙂

I don’t know if you had a chance to talk to Samaritan yet, but I finally got a chance to call and it was confirmed they do look at conception date, and they don’t add that extra 1/2 month at the beginning like the doctors office does. 🙂 Once you are aware of a due date they calculate back to a conception date and compare that with membership start date. If you know your conception date (some women are very aware and know exactly) that is also considered and a doctors note may be requested if it differs much from the calculations. It’s pretty rare for it to be that close to a membership start date, and it tends to become pretty clear when calculating whether you are or aren’t. Good luck and I hope you find a positive pregnancy test in your near future! 🙂

How does the Save to Share work in terms of sending the money and having the $400 available right away when you sign up. if you are not asked to share the $400 one year will you have to have $800 available the following year?

Yes, it keeps building by $399 each year until we max out at 3 yrs worth. Additions come during your anniversary month. In year 1 we spent somewhere around $75 out of ours, so $399-$75 = $324, then in Nov (our anniv month) we added another $399 for a total of $723 available in ours now. The most we’ll ever have in there is 3 yrs worth, so $399 x 3 = $1197. Samaritan never asks us to send more than 1/2 of our available savings pot to any one S2S need. Samaritan keeps track of what we’ve been asked to spend and it can be seen through our online account.

what happens after the third year? lets say you have 1,100 accumulated and going on to your fourth year anniversary.

Then you would add $97 to bring it to $1197 max. It seems logical to me that the 4th years and beyond would potentially have much smaller additions required, but it will depend on how many s2s needs there are and how much we are asked to spend each year. So far it hasn’t been much.

I have not seen the answer to this question when they say you need to be Cristian do they mean believe in Jesus Christ, The reason I say this is because I am Catholic and all catholics are Christian. Are they talking about being in the Christian religion institution or any religion that worships Christ? I would like to be a member but confused about this.

Samaritan has several catholic members. You have to agree to their statement of faith. Some Catholics are ok with it, others not. Variations in personal convictions maybe? I’m not catholic so I don’t understand the nuances. There’s a new ministry called CMF CURO which is administered through samaritan and is designed for Catholics. I don’t know a lot about it.

Hi Heather,

I just read through every comment and your responses and I am in awe of your dedication and the obvious amount of research and heart & soul that you put into all your replies. Of course the original blog was exceptionally helpful to start with, as well. This has all been very helpful and informative for me…and just want to let you know I really appreciate all your work!

Thanks for your kind words, it is a labor of love and one I thoroughly enjoy. I’m so glad it was helpful for you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Have you heard of Medi-bid? They have partnered with samaritan ministeries to provide direct and accurate costs for patients seeking anywere from a lab test to brain surgery. The way it works is, you go on to medi bid and seek out your particular procedure, then you get prices back from the providers. Then you select that provider and it gives you the contact information, etc. You can also review the doctors and take that into account.
I have been very happy with the service through samaritan ministeries and medi bid
http://www.medibid.com/

Thank you for the info. Good resource.

Just tried the Medibid link and it is no longer valid

Thanks for the notice. The link to http://www.medibid.com still works, so I updated the other comment to that. Accessing it as a Samaritan member is best done through the Samaritan member online account area so that it was pass on our membership status for free services.

Christian Healthcare Ministries does not require you to go on community Medicaid. Here’s how one of their representatives explained it to me:

Good afternoon, I trust this email finds you well.

When our members have a traumatic illness with a hospital stay we advise them to seek discounts. We have a department that does this by assisting our members and or working with the hospital on our own.

In most cases the hospital requires the patient to apply for assistance before they will discuss discounts. It is just standard policy for private pay or self pay patients. Our CEO has met with numerous hospital VPs in charge of the patient finance departments. Because the insurance industry has control of the payment structure of the hospitals, they often are not used to dealing with private pay patients so their policy requires application for assistance programs.

If the patient does not qualify for assistance the hospital will then discuss discounts. That is why we require our members to apply for assistance, or follow the hospital’s instructions.

Most times these are programs not related to Medicaid. It can be wealthy donor’s foundations or research money or the required “charity” provisions the hospital must report on their annual reporting to keep their licenses. Sometimes they want it to be Medicaid. Most often they are other programs. The hospital drives these efforts.

The Medicaid referred to in this case is known as “institutional Medicaid”. This is different than “community Medicaid”.

Institutional Medicaid is related to that specific illness. It has a start date and an end date. It is based on the severity of the illness and the resources of the patient. If you have a future illness you would not qualify for Medicaid unless you reapply.

On the other hand, Community Medicaid is when you qualify for Medicaid as your health insurance. Our CEO has a special needs son who has Medicaid as his health cost provision. His significant disability and lack of resources qualifies him for this service. We have all paid into Medicaid for many years for people like him who are not as fortunate as others.

Community Medicaid is not what we deal with at CHM.

We ask our members to follow the instructions of the hospital as we all work together to get the best discounts possible for our members.

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance to you.

Blessings,

Christian Healthcare Ministries
Michelle Rhoads • Member Assistant
800-791-6225 toll-free

That is what I am talking about, we have paid into it so we might as well use the resources, until a change is made. Great Post!! Donors are a great way to reduce the cost to the ministry and if you do not ask you will never know.

What an immense effort to produce such great information! Thank you! I am currently researching plans due to being forced out of a great plan at $411/mth into a like kind Obama plan for $1043/mth!!! Who can afford that? I refuse to pay into that system any longer. With just one child, we fall into the category of paying the maximum for the least soles on “family” plans.
Over the last few years I’ve seen a half dozen doctors and have been diagnosed with problems such as Fibromayalgia, carpel tunnel, and a host of others because they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me. I’ve never been treated for any of them since I don’t like medication and always felt there was some other underlying cause of all those “issues”. I decided to see an alternative medical specialist and had dozens of blood tests and discovered I have Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever from a tick bite! I don’t know the course of treatment yet but hopefully can get back to normal. I say all that to say I believe in alternative medicine and being allowed to choose who you want to see for treatment. Praise God, He put this Dr. in my path to help me get on the road to healing. I know this won’t be covered by Samaritan Ministries sine it’s preexisting, but I am leaning in their direction.

Thanks for writing. If those other issues you have go away once you are healed from the tick bite they may no longer be considered pre-existing (many conditions drop their pre-existing status if you go a year without symptoms/treatment/medication). You should present those scenarios to Samaritan to find out. It is great that Samaritan shares for some alternative treatments, I very much like that. Good luck with your decision!

My husband and I are considering switching over to the Samaritan group. I am a little concerned regarding preventative care cost for my young children. We just had our third child, so I know we will be going to pediatrician visits every three months until she is two. Once you have paid the initial three $300 bills, do any preventative doctor visits get shared? Immunizations? Or would all preventative healthcare be up to us to cover no matter how much we end up paying. Yearly GYN visit, yearly physical, mammograms if needed? All of those sorts of preventative medical care. Thanks for any guidance!

All preventative is up to us as long as you’re not having symptoms to cause that visit, BUT if the amount of those adds up to be a burden you can group them and send in as a Special Prayer Need (bills can’t be more than a year old, so submitting maybe every 9-10 months seems logical). Immunizations are also not shared, but most are able to find them for free or very very cheap through local clinics. If not, then group the charges and submit as an SPN. The other thing is the discounts. Depending on what you can find, your out of pocket for preventative may not be as much as you think if they have good cash pay discounts. During my research I wrote out how many visits we would expect, cash pay cost for each, totaled it up and compared that cost plus monthly shares to what I would pay with health insurance (premium plus any OOP for those visits). Samaritan still came out WAY ahead by thousands. That will vary depending on discounts, prices in your area, how many visits you do (when our kids were babies we didn’t have to go quite that often, after age 6 months we were on a 6 month schedule, and then yearly until it just wasn’t necessary all the time…and now I’m finding out the yearly GYN and mammos really aren’t recommended for all women either, but I digress)… so do that math and see how it works for your family and your health situations. It requires calling your docs to see what they charge cash pay, which can feel weird at first, but they were all really great about it when I called. Seeing the math in print made it a lot more clear for us, plus the huge benefit of the low $300 responsibility for bigger needs. And maybe for you it’s just “break even” for the first year or two, but then later becomes much better. It will depend on what your insurance is offering, too.

I just wanted to point out, if you use medicaid, you are on the hook, or more accurately, your estate is on the hook for repayment to the state. If you own a house/property and use medicaid, the state will take ownership of the property to recover medicaid expenses once you die. The transfer won’t take place if you have a living spouse remaining in that house, but once they die, it takes effect. I don’t know if there is a time limitation statute between the time you use the medicaid and the time of death where the state can do this. This takes precedence over a will, too, and is not explained to people when they sign up. It is like this at least in Pennsylvania, and is something to carefully consider.

Yes Brad! I just went to a lawyer in Massachusetts and they “look back” FIVE YEARS and will take whatever little you have saved for your kids. FIVE years must make it a big money maker.

Hi there,

My wife is currently enrolled (have been for around a year) and we are expecting. We originally had everything figured out through a birth center as far as billing was concerned and right as we were about to submit our need, we found out that the Lord had blessed us with twins. This is incredible as we have been having fertility issues about 3 years and were into the adoption process for about one year. God has truly shown himself powerful through His means and timing!

With that said, I am now very confused about my need processing. Because twin pregnancy is automatically “high risk” almost no birth centers will perform the births, at least not ones we are comfortable with. So I am collecting these bills almost every other week for the last month. I have paid most of them, but I do not want my unpaid ones to go to collections while I wait. Because there is 6 months to go in the pregnancy I’m confused about when my need is published. I’ve called twice and I’m still confused.

I am wondering if you have any guidance, do I submit the bills as I receive them and then continue to send them in (as if they were addendums to the need), or every time I send in bills will they be processed as a new need?

I am receiving discounts of 20% for being self-pay, so that I can get the initial $300 waived, but I would love to be able to submit these existing bills right away as my bank accounts (as a 24 year old) are becoming depleted.

Any direction you have is helpful. Sometimes phone calls aren’t the most clear I have found because there is so much information I’m trying to process at once as this is our first need we have ever submitted.

Sincerely,
DM

Congratulations on your twins! So exciting! The pregnancy is one need and you should be submitting as you go. Pregnancy bills can be submitted in advance, so definitely start now. Many hospitals and clinics have a base package deal for pregnancies, which also allows for a discount, so definitely submit those, too. As more bills come in those are just added to this need using the need “add-on” form. Be sure the bills you submit are itemized, that’s very important. If they understood you are pregnant now (ok your wife)… then you should have a need processing form to go along with that first set of bills you have. Generally your need is published 2 months after submitting it to Samaritan. So if you submit now, I would think you would start receiving money by February, but check with them when you call again. Definitely call them again. And keep in touch with them because you will have more bills coming. You also shouldn’t need to pay all these in full each time, find out your minimum payment required from the hospital to get you to the first set of shares coming in. $50-100/month maybe? Find out. If you are paying in full each time then Samaritan can’t get even more discounts for you. So pay the minimum then pay each one off as shares arrive and maybe the bills will reduce from Samaritan getting deeper discounts. I don’t work for Samaritan, but that’s my understanding of how it works after reading what other members have done for pregnancy. I would prefer they clarify all that with you directly as they know best. I do know you should start submitting now, though. As long as you make small payments on those other bills they shouldn’t go to collections. The hospital just wants to know you have a way to pay and a plan. Take a deep breath. Samaritan loves babies and handles this kind of thing all the time, it will be just fine. Write out your questions and call back. Take as much time as you need, write down the answers. Make a step by step if you aren’t sure. But definitely start submitting those itemized bills now! 🙂 Yay twins!!

I’m 63 years old, retired and collecting social security, married, very healthy,and my husband is on medicare. After much research into alternatives to Obamacare, I’ve decided that perhaps a faith-based health care program is the way to go. What (and why) would you suggest as best for one in my situation — a plan like Samaritan’s or like CHM?

I am partial to Samaritan of course, but it will come down to what matters most to you. Our family preferences could differ from yours.
1. Do you care more about monthly cost (CHM cheaper in your case), or is more personal interaction important? (Samaritan does direct sending of shares/cards member to member)
2. Do you really want to be sure medical transport will be paid for (Samaritan shares these) or are you willing to risk paying for some of that yourself? (CHM never does for silver/bronze, doesn’t cover from emergency site even on gold)
3. Do you need to have dental shareable as a special prayer need? (Samaritan does, CHM doesn’t).
4. Does the “coverage” of some alternative treatments matter to you? (CHM doesn’t, Samaritan does).
5. Do you want the option of cheaper levels to spend less money and have less coverage? (CHM has levels, Samaritan provides same sharing level for everyone).
6. Are you close to a medicaid income and would you be at risk of being forced to use it? DO you care if you had to? (CHM would require it if you had a need, Samaritan doesn’t).
I would naturally recommend Samaritan because that’s the ministry we chose. We would pick it even if we were on Medicare because of the things which are important to our family (direct sharing, full ambulance/life flight sharing, alternative treatments, dental as SPNs, want to avoid any medicaid use and tremendously positive recommendations from people we know and reviews online). Depending on how you answer the questions above you may be lead more toward CHM. If it’s strictly about cost them CHM is cheaper in your case. If the other issues come into play you’ll need to decide which features are more important to you. Both are good programs. Good luck! 🙂

Hi, my husband is retired and I still work. Insurance is high (cost) for spouse at the job I am thinking of taking. He is 60. He has some chronic illnesses that he has to take medication routinely. We are looking for a less expensive insurance and I have looked at the medishare concept. This doesn’t look like regular insurance to me. Am I correct in thinking that this type of insurance will not pay for regular doctor visits and medication and is just for emergencies or new on-set of a condition? It looks like to me that we would have to pay out of pocket for any doctor’s visits and meds. He has not been in the hospital or emergency room at all.

You are correct, Medi-share, Samaritan Ministries and CHM are healthcare sharing ministries, they are not insurance. The ministries share in the bigger needs (Samaritan shares needs over $300), members pay for preventative stuff on their own, such as the checkups and routine meds you mentioned. They also have some limitations on pre-existing conditions, which matters for some people, not for others. If he has chronic illnesses which are not under control a ministry membership may not be best for him. If his medications aren’t very expensive outside of insurance (check something like goodrx.com) then it may be a good solution anyway. Members compare the cost of expensive premiums vs low ministry costs + paying for their own checkups. We have found that paying out of pocket for checkups and cheap medications is far less expensive than paying for insurance premiums, while giving us a very low $300 responsibility should a bigger illness or incident occur. But it will be different for everyone so we all have to run our own cost comparisons and see what’s best. Best of luck in your hunt! 🙂

Is Rheumatoid Arthritis covered, if it is a preexisting condition?

Active pre-existing conditions are shared as Special Prayer Needs not as a regular need. There was one in my special prayer need list for this month in fact. Conditions which have gone a while without symptoms, treatment or medication no longer are considered pre-existing (most only a year, a few others longer), but you would want to call Samaritan directly to see how your existing RA would be handled depending on whether it’s active or not.

With either of these plans, when you go to the hospital or doctor, what do you say? Do you say, I don’t have insurance, please bill me? If this is what you say, how often are you refused service?

If it’s an emergency you cannot be refused service. The nurses may ask for a small payment on the spot (this is reasonable and I address it more in link below), they may offer you assistance forms to fill out. In a clinic setting I’ve never been refused because they’ve all had cash pay policies. Most do. Samaritan and CHM will both coach you through what to say to billing personnel if you need it. I wrote a blog post to address various conversation types which may be helpful (http://samaritanministriesreview.com/telling-doctor-you-are-cash-pay/), but also contact each ministry to get their suggested wording, and also contact your primary care facilities to find out their cash pay policy for amounts and timelines. It’s really not too hard, although we’re not used to it so at first it seems intimidating to some people. That’s ok. I’ve never had dental insurance, and only had vision coverage for a brief period so I just applied those tactics to other clinic environments and it went fine. Better than fine. It really was easy. We have to remember that not everyone in this country has insurance. Most places know that and have policies in place to serve those people with discounts, set payment timelines, financial assistance programs if you wish, etc. I am never ashamed to say we don’t have insurance, I say it confidently, proudly and with a smile, and explain as needed what we do instead. I am very secure in that position. I would ask for an itemized bill and as soon as possible and emphasize I need to submit it so they can be paid quickly. The process of submitting bills ourselves isn’t foreign to many billing people either, some insurance plans used to require that of their customers, too.

Hello! Thanks for all the great insight into Samaritan and other cost sharing ministries. My wife and I are considering moving our family off of my employer insurance plan onto Samaritan. I’ve contacted our pediatrician’s office and our gp’s office about self-pay prices for office visits. Our pediatrician offers a 20% discount if you pay on the day of the visit. The normal charge is $169/visit and $135.20 with the 20% discount. I’m new to the self-pay world, so that seems high. Does it seem within the realm of normal to you?

Again, thanks for all of the great info on this site.

That does seem a little high, but it may also be where you live. I did a random search for pediatrician cash pay costs and got this site for a place in Illinois: http://www.delavanpediatrics.com/selfpay.html, after reading through it (cheaper than your quotes) I saw that the page specifically mentions Samaritan Ministries! This is a doctor who appreciates health care sharing patients. Awesome find, and I wasn’t even doing a Samaritan related search. I can’t remember what our clinic charges, I’ll try to get that tomorrow. 20% is a bigger discount than we get here, but the net amount is more important. I would say that is on the high end of normal, but pricing can vary significantly across the country, or even within cities. If you really like him then the price may be worth it.
Update: Our local clinic charges for kid wellness exams based on age, so for us (elementary age) it’s now $126.90 (established) or $154.80 (new patient or been 3 yrs since last visit) after the discount is applied. However, they offer summer sports physicals for school age kids for $40 so I will wait for those I think. Not quite as comprehensive, but pretty close. A regular kid office visit here (not wellness) is $108 after discounts. Wellness exams tend to cost more than standard visits.

I am President of Christian Healthcare Ministries.

Your web site was sent to me and I was asked to review it. I have done so.

There are significant misrepresentations about our minsitry’s relationship with the use of Medicaid.

I reccomend that all your readers seek their answers about CHM from CHM rather than someone who is not part of CHM. I certianly understand why you, as a member of Samaritan Ministries, would be in favor of them and I have no problem with that.

We are in our 34th year and we have an enormous list of happy memebrs.

I compliment you on your apparent spirit of trying to be fair but I am confident we at CHM are better quailified to give answers to these questions and we will be happy to do so.

Hello Rev Russell, thanks for writing! I would appreciate it if you would detail the information here about your Medicaid use policy for those CHM members who qualify. Hearing it straight from the President of CHM would be wonderful! 🙂 My apologies if something isn’t right, I work very hard to get accurate information posted, and you should know the information posted here about CHM’s use of Medicaid has come direct from other CHM members, their postings on other sites as well as in the comments here, and I would have to assume they know how that process works. A CHM member posted a comment here stating: “An individual is not required to use Medicaid or see if you are eligible for financial discounts until a need is submitted.” That tells me it is required at the point of submitting a need. I’m not sure how else to interpret that and I had no reason to question him. I’m hoping you’ll tell me his statement is wrong. I am in the camp that any required use of Medicaid is the wrong approach for our family, if the members who have shared that information are mistaken about the requirement then please set us straight and I will absolutely make that clear on this blog (and any other blogs I see it mentioned), getting it right is important to me so people can make the most informed decision possible. I’m not sure this issue can be glossed over though, qualifying Medicaid application and participation is either required or it isn’t. If your members are allowed to skip the application, refuse participation and still get full sharing from CHM I would gladly update my information here. I agree with you about calling in, I always encourage people to contact any ministry they are considering directly, as each ministry’s main office knows their guidelines best. When our family was researching HCSM’s Medicaid wasn’t even a question I thought to ask either ministry, it appeared on my radar after joining Samaritan. I like a lot of things about CHM and the more successful these ministries are, the better our chances of turning health costs around in this country. Health care sharing ministries are a true blessing for hundreds of thousands of people and I’m hoping that’s in the millions someday. God Bless you and your work with CHM, I have heard great things about it and wish you the best. 🙂 Thank you for writing, I am honored.

I live in MI in the Detroit area which has possibly the highest car insurance rates in the country. MY wife and I are with BCBS Bronze which is set to rise from about $265 a month to over $600 a month! I looked into CHM and then found your website.

Last year, we were able to find more affordable car insurance rates by listing our health insurance as primary. Since neither Samaritan nor CHM are “insurance,” would this negatively affect us and bump us back to the astronomical car insurance rates that would price us out of living where we live?

I’ve never heard of that, but based on that statement I’m going to say it likely would affect your auto insurance rates. The question is “how much”. I hope it doesn’t require you to move! Our auto insurance doesn’t have that requirement, but since yours does you’ll definitely want to notify them if you make the switch, otherwise they would likely deny all auto claims. I would suggest calling your auto insurance provider and asking them what that price difference is. Factor that difference into the savings between your BCBS and your CHM or Samaritan shares. Your average savings from CHM to BCBS is $300/month, which is $3600/yr savings. If your car insurance goes up by $100/month then switching to the ministry still puts you money ahead. Sounds like you need to price auto insurance and another health insurance plan and the ministry memberships. Compare all the numbers to see what the best combination is (I would also consider deductibles and OOP costs not just monthly expenses). I wish you luck, that sounds like an awfully expensive situation. God Bless.

Thanks for the response. While other states have “no fault” car insurance, MI is the only one with PIP, which means that any injured person is covered for their medical expenses for life, no limit. Ultimately, it has resulted in people in our area, especially Detroit, to simply drive without car insurance (but I digress…)

I spoke with my car insurance agent and was told that our current car insurance would go up almost $300 a year (which is a lot less than what I thought it would be – it has to do with the car insurance company that we have).

I need to call Samaritan and CHM to see if they make allowance to be placed as primary on our car insurance policy.

Our family is strongly considering membership in one of these Christian cost-sharing groups. In perusing your reviews, there are several statements discouraging Medi-Share in comparison to Samaritan and CHM, and I would like to understand why. Until I found your page, Medi-Share was the only option we had investigated.

Thank you for your time and input!

These are all just my thoughts so take it for what it’s worth. 🙂 Medi-share works the most like insurance which appeals to some people, but from reviews I’ve read they also provide the most headaches for customers compared to the other ministries. I read many reviews of unhappy members who had their needs denied, needs kept getting assigned as pre-existing even when the member doctor said it absolutely wasn’t, very long payment wait times, etc. I got the impression from the negative reviews that Medi-share was looking pretty hard for a reason NOT to share in the need, overall there were just too many negative reviews. I got the exact opposite impression from Samaritan members, they are just jumping for joy about how great it is. Understanding that no ministry is perfect, Samaritan seemed like the perfect fit for us. Medi-share isn’t allowed to operate in Montana because of a lawsuit by a member (I think he had a heart attack shortly after joining and it was all denied and he was told it was pre-existing despite no known issues for him, but it’s been a while since I’ve read about that one). My Medishare comparison page details the reasons it wasn’t a comfortable solution for us. But they do have happy members. I just didn’t want to play the same insurance games under a new name; seemingly bigger risk of denials, high annual responsibility/deductible, forced gov’t programs if low income, hoops/tests to jump through, delayed payments, higher costs for going out of network and so forth. Medishare (and CHM) basically pool the monthly shares and distribute them to other members. That’s a pretty big no-no when you aren’t an official insurance company and they’ve both been under scrutiny because of it. CHM had some big legal/financial issues a long time ago under a different name, but those appear to have been resolved and their annual audit keeps things on track. I like having all the ministries available as options because they are about 70% the same, with 30% in variations that would appeal to a wider variety of people. Samaritan is a great fit for us, but obviously tens of thousands find Medi-share a great fit for them and I think that’s great. I wish you the best as you find what works best for your family and I’m thrilled that you’re thinking of a health care sharing ministry!

My family and I are member of CHM and have been for 18 months. One point worth considering is that any discount given for “self pay” or “cash discount” by the hospital is credited towards the members responsibility. This greatly reduces the individual responsibility per event. For example. If you had a $2,000 medical bill and you were part of CHM’s silver plan ($1,000 individual responsibility per incident) and you received a 50% discount for being a “self pay” patient. The $1,000 reduction for being a “self pay” patient would cover your individual responsibility and CHM would cover the remaining $1,000. Therefore, you would pay $0 out of pocket for the incident. Great benefit!!

Yes that’s right. CHM and Samaritan both apply any discounts we get to our personal responsibility amounts. It is a really nice benefit and one that causes many members to have $0 out of pocket for bills that insurance would make us pay. One of my favorite stories is a woman who had two kids who had the same surgery, one before Samaritan membership and one after. The first surgery insurance paid but then left her with a multi thousand OOP cost, like $6000, and for the second surgery the hospital reduced her self pay charges down to the same $6000 she was stuck with the first time. Except by being a health care sharing ministry member she was then able to share the entire $6000 (discount eliminated her $300 amount) and was left with nothing to pay herself. Big difference from insurance plans. Great reminder! 🙂

I’m sorry – I’m confused by this example; If a $2000 medical bill was reduced (by the medical provider) to $1000 due to a 50% discount for being a “self-pay” patient, then isn’t the patient still responsible for that $1000, not CHM? Based upon my reading of CHM’s guidelines on their website, there would be no freedom from the personal responsibility per incident requirement until the NEXT incident occurs. So, in the example above (assuming by the information given that the yearly personal responsibility amount has not been met for this individual), this person would still be responsible for paying that $1000 remaining after the medical provider’s 50% discount – CHM would pay nothing in this circumstance, per CHM’s guidelines provided on their webpage. However, any costs from additional medical incidents incurred during that same year totaling $1000+ (the Silver plan personal responsibility amount) would be covered by CHM completely. Is this understanding correct?

Craig or another CHM member may need to confirm, but I think CHM applies the discounts direct to the personal responsibility first, just like Samaritan. So his example would be true in that case. The silver plan responsibility of $1000 is per incident, each one. So the next incident would start over with another $1000 coming from the member unless discounts were obtained to apply to it. Each time there’s a need, it would have to go over $1000 to be shareable, and any discounts you got would apply to the $1000 you are responsible for, potentially reducing your amount owed to $0 each time, but the need would have to be at least $1000 to be shareable in the first place.

Do you have any information on newest options, Altrua Healthshares or Liberty, in comparison to CHM and Samaritan?
Thanks,

I did a comparison between Liberty and Samaritan a while ago, it’s available on the Compare to Other Ministries page. Liberty and Altrua were never part of our family’s consideration, there is still some question about whether they are truly ACA exempt. Altrua only recently merged with an older ministry to try and gain that exemption, but Washington hasn’t given them final approval yet. Being ACA exempt is absolutely essential for us, there’s no reason to pay taxes/fees on top of any health care costs. Altrua also looks to have a $1 million lifetime cap which is not nearly enough (Liberty’s cap is $5 million). The Altrua website is also woefully lacking in information, and what little info they have is very hard to find. I think you have to call to get pricing details. At this point I wouldn’t really recommend either of them, although they both do offer some sharing for preventative visits, moreso than the other ministries. I didn’t find that fact enough to overcome their other deficiencies at this point. Both of them need to get bigger, perhaps that will allow them to offer more “coverage”. It is amazing how all 5 ministries have some similarities and also some striking differences. It’s excellent they all exist as it means a broader base of people could be to attracted to the concept of a health care sharing ministry, which can help move our country in the right direction for cost controls.

Update 12/31/14: Altrua recently announced they have received Federal confirmation they qualify as an HCSM and their members are fully exempt from the ACA fines. Still waiting for 100% confirmation from Liberty.

Update: It was confirmed that Liberty Healthshare qualifies as an HCSM and members are fully ACA exempt. And the Altrua website now has quite a bit more information on it including pricing, membership levels/types and guidelines.

I currently have a gold BC/BS insurance that costs me over $728.00 a month with a $9,000 deductible. It is to go up another $80 or more in 2015. I do have dental coverage which is good, and vision also. I can’t really afford this increase.
I wondered what would be a good move for me? I am 54, no pre-existing conditions and self-employed. I would like health insurance, dental, and vision if possible. I wondered how much this would be a month. Plus, does it cover tests (Cat scans, X-Rays, MRI’s etc)? What happens when you go to a doctor or specialist? Do you have to pay and then get reimbursed. I had one hospital visit for a chemical inhalation a few years ago that cost over $25,000. I could not pay that up front and then have them reimburse me too many months later. I don’t know how this really works for tests, doctor visits and bills from hospitals or surgery. Are the caps for a lifetime or for one incident. (Like an accident, then another cap for cancer, then another cap for another illness). Also, are yearly mammograms and gynocologist checkups covered? I am new to this idea, so I don’t know how it really works. What is the top plan cost per month?

Hi Valerie. Health care sharing ministries (HCSM’s) are quite different from insurance plans; they cost less, and also don’t try to pay for everything under the sun. Members handle the smaller things themselves, the ministries step in to cover the bigger costs (in Samaritan’s case that means needs/incidents going over $300 which meet the guidelines). Most of them do not include standard dental or vision in their guidelines (members pay out of pocket or use a discount program), although those can sometimes be shared as part of the extra giving programs depending on the ministry. Cat scans, xrays and MRI’s are shared whenever you are having symptoms/problems and need a test done, but they are not as part of a routine checkup. Routine care/checkups/preventative care are not shared, as they can be budgeted for (so annual physicals/mammograms are not shared, but mammograms because of a problem ARE shared). Samaritan and CHM have no lifetime limits, and their caps for their regular programs are per incident (not per type, just per each time you have a medical need of whatever kind). It is recommended that members also join their add-on programs available in order to allow for unlimited sharing if a need goes above the regular membership limits. Samaritan’s largest need to date was $1.5 million, discounted to $700,000 by the docs/hospital, it was all shared by Samaritan because that person was on Samaritan’s Save to Share program. Small doctor visits we usually pay on the spot, bigger needs like the $25,000 one you mentioned we would pay a small amount per month and then pay it off when the shares came in. We ask for discounts (so your $25,000 bill would likely have been reduced by several thousand) and then the ministries share the rest. For some non-emergency big procedures hospitals will ask for some payment up front, just like they do with higher deductible insurance plans. The amount varies according to what you can do and what you work out with the provider, it’s going to be different everywhere. Assuming you would join as a single, Samaritan’s rate for you is $180/month, CHM’s gold plan is $150/month. Based on what you’ve quoted from BCBS you could save $628-$658/month, of which some of that savings could be put back in a savings account to help pay for the annual checkups. Thats about $7500/yr in savings, would you spend that much on a mammogram or physical in a year? Or even a couple of small doctor visits if you get a sinus infection? Plus a dental and vision checkup? Probably not. 🙂 This is the point when people tend to realize they are pay a huge amount to get those free annual physicals.

You have a lot of very good questions. Unfortunately I don’t have enough space to detail everything out in this comment. If you read through this site’s pages on the right you will get most of the answers you seek with a lot more detail. I also recommend that you call each ministry you are interested in and ask each of them your questions because they don’t operate exactly the same and you may find one suits you better than another. Sharing ministries are a wonderful thing, but it is quite a different process from insurance. Not hard, just different. And for many people it’s just so much more logical, so much cheaper (both monthly and out-of-pocket during a medical need) and gives so much less headache with bundles of prayer and support to take health care sharing and support to a new level. I wish you the best in your search for a solution. I wouldn’t want to pay $808/month either. Our BCBS quote for 2014 was $1205 for the gold plan, and will be about $1450 for 2015. We are sticking with Samaritan, we just LOVE IT!

Hi,
I am six years clear from a curable form of Leukemia… Five years is the “cured” mark.
Could my doctor confirm this to Samaritan somehow?
Also, what about life long diagnosis of migraines…would doctor visits for that be covered?
Thanks!

David, check with Samaritan to be sure, but I would think yes, your doctor could sign off on the “cured” status for the leukemia, but it also may not even be necessary. On cancers once you hit 5 years cured it’s no longer pre-existing anyway (new guideline coming out). The migraines one I’m not sure. Since there’s an official diagnosis I would think those visits would not be shared (pre-existing), but most stand alone doctor visits aren’t shared anyway because they tend to fall under $300. Call Samaritan, they’re great to speak with.

My family is currently insured with Aetna Insurance, but would really like to switch to Samaritan’s sharing. My one question involves the pre-existing condition guidelines. We recently adopted a little boy who is special needs, listed as delayed development and premature birth. Given that he was born premature and most likely under stressful circumstances, he is behind developmentally. We have been taking him to see a physical therapist here in China (where we live), and hope to get him some speech therapy soon as well. I am wondering what needs of his would be eligible to share, given that many medical conditions could be traced back to his premature birth. We are in a region in China where our medical options are limited, so he has not had extensive medical testing to see if there are any other conditions present. If we began Samaritan’s sharing and afterwards had more extensive medical testing done that revealed further issues, would those issues be eligible for sharing (given that we haven’t known about them or received any treatment for them prior to joining)? For example, if he has a digestive issue that has prevented him from gaining weight, or a heart condition we are unaware of now, would those things we eligible for sharing?

Daniel, thanks for writing. I called Samaritan to get more info. I was told that any issue you are currently aware of would not be shared (like the PT visits, speech therapy). But for any issues that may develop later of which you are not currently aware, those can be shared. Any future issues and genetic disorders can be shared as long as they are discovered after membership starts. Anything known about prior counts as pre-existing. Page 24 of the guidelines have more info on genetic issues with adopted members, and page 16 talks about adopted children being considered the same as biological children in the family. Samaritan shares 4 months of medications, so if he develops a need for a long term medication need those meds would not be shared past the 4 month time frame (same as everyone else in the family). Since you know the most about him, if you have more what-ifs I would recommend presenting them to Samaritan at info@samaritanministries.org (since your daylight hours in China probably don’t line up with theirs well enough for a phone call). Based on what you described it doesn’t sound like future issues will have any problems with sharing since you are currently unaware of them. I suppose another option would be to keep an individual policy for him in addition to his Samaritan membership, but after speaking with Samaritan it doesn’t sound like that would be necessary. Regardless, I always recommend that people contact them directly since they are so nice and know the guidelines better than anyone.

I have mine and our children carried on insurance through the group plan at my workplace. My wife’s company is thinking of going to Samaritan from traditional insurance. Thinking about putting her and the children on Samaritan. Normally at tax time, some folks are able to itemize medical receipts, dr visits bills, other medical expenses, etc and was wondering what tax advantages, monthly shares, or write offs ( if any) would be eligible to be deducted? Could a flex plan be used to help pay for expenses or shares? Still unsure but praying about this new option of healthcare to our family.

If your wife and kids become Samaritan members, then you may as well join, too if you qualify (no smoking, statement of faith, etc), since it wouldn’t change the monthly cost. Then you could have your insurance as primary and Samaritan as a secondary for your needs.

You have good questions! Monthly shares are not tax deductible (Missouri lets you deduct them on the state taxes, but they’re the only one). Donations to special prayer needs are deductible as charity only if you send them direct to Samaritan to process. To write off medical expenses it has to be 10 percent of your AGI, which is a lot of medical bills. IRS rules state that any medical bills you are reimbursed for cannot be deducted… the IRS example was a fundraiser, but I would suspect they’d see Samaritan shares as the same thing. Samaritan’s official answer (I checked) is that you should consult with your tax advisor, because tax laws have gray areas, a pro would need to explain it. I am definitely not a tax pro. That understood, it would seem that as a member you probably wouldn’t have enough qualifying medical bills to meet the 10 percent rule (7.5% if 65 and over I think), because Samaritan shares will take care of much of it. Seems like a good thing really, there’s nothing to deduct because you weren’t stuck with a bunch of bills. Anything Samaritan doesn’t share would be eligible for deduction once you hit that 10% mark, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario where that would apply. Maybe if you had a need that went over the $250,000 mark and weren’t part of Save to Share. Then any overrun not met by Special Prayer Need gifts would surely be deductible. Of course I fully recommend being in Save to Share so it doesn’t become an issue. As for the flex plan, I know that it cannot be used to pay insurance premiums, probably they wouldn’t allow it to pay for monthly shares either, but check with them. If your wife and kids are not on your work’s insurance then I don’t think your flex plan could cover their medical bills, only yours. But ask in case they have different rules. I don’t know how much of that is determined by federal law and how much is company determined.

This was very helpful. Thank you for doing this!

Is it true that under CHM each need has to be verified by our Church Leader? My husband has been being treated for cholesterol issues for a few years now. I am assuming this will be considered pre-existing and will never be covered by SM unless he goes a year without treatment. Is that correct?

You’re welcome! 🙂 I don’t know if CHM requires verification by a church leader. Samaritan used to, but no longer does (update, Nov 2016).

For his cholesterol, his ongoing meds wouldn’t be shared anyway, but I’m not sure there’d be any other concerns. Similarly, the guidelines clearly list an exception for high blood pressure meds as not being pre-existing as long as you haven’t been hospitalized and are stable with meds and diet, seems like cholesterol would be the same way, but I will confirm. Here’s what it says for the HBP issues: “High blood pressure will not be considered a “condition existing prior to membership” even if you have not gone 12 months symptom free, as long as you have not been hospitalized for high blood pressure in the past, and you are able to control the condition through medication or diet. Medication for treatment as a chronic condition will not be published.” That’s a good question, can’t wait to find out tomorrow!

I talked to Samaritan today about the cholesterol issue. They do see it differently than the HBP situation. In his case, any doctor visits or meds directly for the cholesterol are not shared, although probably wouldn’t be anyway since checkups and long term meds aren’t shared regardless (they can be shared as SPNs). The bigger question is whether something like a heart blockage surgery or heart attack would be shared. Basically the doctor would have to sign off on a form that his surgery need for a blockage wasn’t caused by his cholesterol or any condition existing prior to membership. If the doc says the two are not related, then it’s fully publishable. Heart attacks can be caused by a number of things, having high cholesterol doesn’t automatically mean heart attack in the future.

Here’s my thinking, but see what his doc says. If he’s on cholesterol meds, likely his cholesterol is under control and not high. If it’s under control then conditions that result from high cholesterol are probably not going to happen anyway, his would be lower. The risk is if the meds quit working, or if he quits taking them and cholesterol numbers climb again.

If he goes a year without treatment or symptoms, then yes, it becomes publishable anyway. Some people can accomplish that with diet, others maybe not.

CHM Gold plan allows for all pre-existing conditions, this may be your best option. Furthermore, no minister is required to sign anything until a need is submitted.

Question – for us Christians living and visiting outside of the USA would Samaritan apply and cover us should we have to be rushed to the local hospital A&E and possibly admitted in that country (for non pre-existing conditions)?
We would still receive newsletters and sharing through a US address that would be forwarded to us monthly so that we stay update.
Kindly let me know many thanks.

yes, medical issues that take place outside the US are shared just like they are here. Depending on the hospital and rules of the country you are in, you may or may not have to pay at the time of service (credit card?) and bills must be submitted in US dollars and shares you get must be received at a US address. Samaritan has many members who are missionaries and their needs are being shared just fine. This is a comfort for both missionaries and members travelling abroad. 🙂 More good news is many times medical bills from other countries are far cheaper than in the US, too.

Many thanks for your response and insight. God Bless

HI, i have been looking into healthcare bill sharing for a year now. Our insurance premium just went up another 28% for the 4th year in a row. And our coverage keeps dwinding away. These companies just sound too good to be true. My mani concern is me and my daughter have heart conditions. (pin-hole and mermur). We have never been medicated or treated for it but may one day require surgery or treatment. Would this be considered pre-exsiting? Neither of us have had any issues and we do have an annual heart check up to make sure there are no changes. I really need help knowing if how this would qualify. I know CHM is better for pre-exsiting but we are not into recieve gov help or the manditory thing about trying before they help.

I understand. In your case I would recommend that you ask Samaritan and CHM directly how they would each handle your heart situations. I am thinking that Samaritan would say any treatment for the pin-hole and murmur would be pre-existing (always), but a new unrelated heart issue could still be shared (please confirm that with Samaritan directly). I don’t know if they would consider a heart attack related to what you have or not and that’s probably the big question. Part of it would also depend on what your doctor said about the relationship/probability of a heart attack given your current conditions. Surgeries to correct what you already have would for sure not be shared as part of the regular membership, but they would be shared as SPNs. What is the likelihood of having a future surgery or issue? If you could confirm that Samaritan would share in other non-related heart problems, and your chance of something related to what you have is low, it may be worth doing. On the other hand if chances are higher than you can stand, then CHM at the gold level seems like more what you need. I concur with your assessment regarding gov’t help. I have faith that God will provide and the SPNs combined with discounts from providers often go a LONG way. Call each one and see how they handle it, they know their rules better than anyone and they are SO FRIENDLY and CARING. Each ministry is just different enough in how they handle things I hope that you can find one to fit your family. God bless!

I am on thyroid medicine for hypothyroidism. All symptoms are being controlled with medicine and I feel great. Does this mean if someday I develop thyroid cancer that it wouldn’t be covered because of a pre-existing condition.

I was fairly sure of the answer but called Samaritan to be sure. It was confirmed that only the hypothyroidism is pre-existing, not some future cancer. If you develop thyroid cancer as a member it actually is shareable, the cancer is not considered pre-existing because you don’t have that cancer now (pre membership). Great question and I’m glad I got to look into for you. 🙂 Of course your current meds, and any necessary treatments for what you have now are still shareable as a special prayer need, though not part of the regular membership.

I have to say, it sure is kind of you to continue to call Samaritan to find or confirm the answers to people’s questions who post them here. Thank you so much for committing so much of your time to helping people find a Christ centered alternative to supporting brother’s and sister’s health needs.

Aw shucks. 🙂 I do it because I believe in the good being done by this ministry, and while the person asking the question could call themselves, I want other readers to know the answer, too. Besides, Samaritan staff are so nice and helpful, I really enjoy talking to them.

We are a business as sole member. What requirements would have to be met to switch to a healthcare share? Is there a difference with a business and/or an individual(family) choosing this? We like that we don’t have to fund “medical treatments” that we disagree with.

If you currently have an individual insurance policy I’m pretty sure you can cancel that anytime and join Samaritan. I do not know what the Obamacare rules are regarding insurance for employees/groups or how that would relate to a Samaritan membership (I had heard that group policies cannot be cancelled unless during the open enrollment/change period in the fall, but I’m not an expert on that area). I know that some businesses are members of Samaritan and have their employees as members also, but since this is a little more special case you’d want to talk to one of the advocates at Samaritan about how to do this in a business environment. You can join Samaritan anytime, but the rules about your current insurance policy may be stickier. I applaud your goal of spending your money in line with your beliefs. You can reach Samaritan at (888) 268-4377.

Am I eligible with my pre-existing condition of a ruptured acl and torn miniscus? Surgery is required.

Yes, you can join with a pre-existing condition, Samaritan does not turn away members for that. However, the need (surgery) would not be eligible for sharing under the membership guidelines since it is pre-existing. You would submit that surgery cost as a special prayer need, but members are not obligated to send to those (although a lot do). You would almost certainly get some gifts toward that surgical cost, but there’s no way to know how much. As a Samaritan member you would also likely get a self pay discount from the hospital.

One other thing, I would ask your hospital for a quote for your surgery and compare it to the Surgery Center of Oklahoma… they post their prices online. You could either travel there for the surgery for likely a lot less money or bargain with your hospital so they come closer to the Surgery Center’s pricing. No need to overpay.

It sounds like Samaritan does everything via snail mail. Wouldn’t it be cheaper and more efficient to do things electronically? Emailed newsletters, paypal for payments, etc?

I don’t know that everything electronic is really that much cheaper because the backend costs can be extensive. 🙂 However, Samaritan recently added the ability to receive the monthly newsletter and share slips via email/our online account. I haven’t chosen that option yet because I love getting it in my mailbox. We all have online member accounts to keep track of a bunch of data (need tracking, expected payments, newsletters, etc). Payments online are not available yet and I don’t know how quickly they are moving toward it. Samaritan knows that snail mail is less efficient, but it also offers a more personal touch, and the purpose of this ministry is to do God’s work, maximum efficiency isn’t the point. Even through snail mail their system is a well oiled machine, and members take comfort in the hand written notes we send along with our shares. If everything moves online those notes become more likely to be skipped completely. I’m expecting at some point it will all run online, perhaps more due to national postal issues than a true desire for it. I’m a giant techie and love the convenience of online transactions. Yet the simplicity of writing a note and sending my share is a refreshing moment each month that reminds me of the importance of the human touch and the providence of God. I soak myself in the joy of that simple act while I pray for the healing of that person in need. Thanks for asking! 🙂

I like online everything. However, I’m switching to snail mail because of all the problems with businesses being hacked into. I’ve had 2 family members had their identity stolen. Many family and friends had to hot card their cards because of compromises multiple times. Anything can be stolen but the hackers are way ahead of the rest of us. I’m glad to know that I can snail mail. I also love to get mail and send it.
😉

We will be going overseas as missionaries. Have you heard anything from any of these companies regarding how well it works outside the US? We have friends with one of them here in the US and they really like it, so we called the company and they said they cover a lot of missionaries. Have you heard any comparisons by missionaries?

I haven’t heard a lot of reviews from missionaries, just the ones put out by Samaritan. I know that Samaritan covers a lot of them, and one of their promotional videos mentions a kid on a mission trip who was treated and everything paid for through Samaritan shares. Sounds like it goes pretty well, but I don’t have anything I can point you to. Missionaries need a US address as a home base for newsletters and share submission/receipt, but that’s all I know about it.

I will turn 65 this summer. I have been a member of CHM for a long time but have found that I will have to choose the medicare part B in order to continue with them. Our budget necessitates that I have one or the other and not both. I’d prefer to give my money to other Christians for their needs than to a government program. What are your policies regarding seniors on medicare?

Janet, Samaritan Ministries does not require or even encourage participation in any government program. So you can skip part B if you want and just have your Samaritan membership. I’m glad you’ve been happy with CHM, and desire to continue with a health care sharing ministry.

I’m with CHM. This is the 1st time we will be using it. Two wks ago wife is fine, now she faces surgery to remove tumor. Mayo Clinic Rochester MN will not do anything until we pay estimated bill in full up front. Who has $70000 just waiting to be used? Can not get through to CHM by phone or email.

I was told by Mayo’s financial department that all sharing ministries (Selfpay) must pay up front.

Also talked about all these discounts that these ministries claim. At Mayo they have no idea what you are talking about. They will give you an estimate, and the only discount is if for some reason your total bills come in lower than their estimate.

So far this whole sharing ministries thing is a disaster. Having to pay up front makes sharing ministries worthless. My wife needs this tumor out of her today. I going to try to get a loan, and pray that CHM pays me back. What a night mare!

Lowell. First let me offer my prayers for you and your wife. I pray her medical issue is resolved quickly and successfully. I don’t know why you’re having trouble reaching CHM, but I know they will help walk you through this once you do. Not every provider offers discounts, but most do. CHM would work with Mayo to obtain them, but 100% success doesn’t happen. Either way, CHM can help. I wonder if you got someone in Mayo’s billing dept who isn’t aware of all the details of helping someone in your situation, it doesn’t sound like they offered any of the options they should. The Mayo website says they work with people who have financial hardship ($70k up front would be a hardship for anyone), and from their own site they say they do this by, “Using fair and consistent billing and collection practices that are in the best interest of all parties involved — Providing individualized or extended payment plans, medical services at reduced rates or at no cost — Providing emergency care to stabilize you, regardless of your ability to pay”. They clearly state they offer reduced rate services and if they offer payment plans then I would reference this page on their site (http://www.mayoclinic.org/patient-visitor-guide/minnesota/billing-insurance/charity-care) and request a payment solution accordingly. I’ve read that CHM would speak with Mayo in an extreme situation like this (Samaritan uses Karis for this kind of thing). It’s common for everyone to pay something up front, even insurance patients now. The hospitals know that people have huge deductibles and are then requiring that portion be paid. Some people do take out small loans to meet that need (if credit card isn’t an option). The advantage of your ministry membership is you will likely be reimbursed for that and will be able to pay off the loan fairly quickly compared to someone on insurance who will be stuck with that huge deductible and pay the loan themselves. Maybe Mayo has changed their policies and needs to update their website, but their site clearly states they are supposed to be more accommodating that what you were told. I’m so sorry that phone call was so frustrating. This is a high stress situation, but I know that once you reach CHM they will give you the solutions and answers you need. I’m betting CHM has dealt with Mayo many times. God bless you and your wife, and best wishes for a successful solution to her medical issue.
Update: I checked with Samaritan on how these are handled by them. They said that type of situation is very rare, but if it happened then their patient-advocacy service, The Karis Group, would step in to work with the provider and member until something can be arranged. So the member is not on their own. (I would imagine CHM is very similar) I hope you were able to reach CHM by now and that things are working out better for you. Praying that your wife is healed quickly.

Dear Lowell,

I have been reading through this blog for the past two hours trying to glean information about the different Health Ministries. I have finally come to the end of this long blog to read your situation about your wife. I am in tears trying to type thinking about the stress of going through this with the Mayo Clinic. We have been in a situation where we faced a huge wall to climb when hadn’t any coverage. I am approaching 60 and somewhat fearing our future and health. We had Obama Care for two years and now do not qualify. So we’re researching possibilities.
But I am inquiring if you would share about your wife and how she is doing, and what avenues you had to take to get her surgery covered.
Sandra

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