For the 2nd month in a row needs were prorated. Last month it was at 90%, this month was 80%. If needs are prorated again next month then the members will be asked to vote on a rate increase to the monthly share amounts. Members must approve by a super majority before any increases happen. While no one wants to see costs go up, I like that members get to vote. Insurance never gave me that chance. We don’t know for sure that next month will be prorated, but with health care costs rising sharply it wouldn’t surprise me. Why does Samaritan prorate? I wrote a detailed article on that a couple years ago that you can read here. But in a nutshell, Samaritan doesn’t want to pay first come first serve because at times when there are more needs than shares, paying that way would require some people to wait a very long time for their money to pay the bills. Long wait times can cause problems with providers and debt collectors. By paying a large percentage early members are able to satisfy their providers and even open the door for further rate negotiations.
Samaritan hasn’t had a rate increase in almost 2 years. While it would be nice to always have the same monthly rate, unfortunately the price of health care isn’t staying the same. In order to provide for the members it sometimes becomes necessary to vote on an increase. The typical timeframe for an increase is anywhere from 18-30 months, so if it happens soon we’d be about 24-25 months between increases. That’s pretty good, especially compared to the automatic annual increases provided by insurance companies. Also, Samaritan usually doesn’t have to increase shares very much, the last increase was a little under 10% for the family rate. Compare that with Blue Cross (BCBSNE) which is asking for a 34.9% increase in my state. Of course it’s also possible the members will vote no and keep shares the same for a while.
Keeping costs as low as possible is a big priority for members. That’s why we try to get discounts, not only to reduce our own $300 portion, but also to help out the ministry as a whole. The more discounts we can get, the better it is for everyone and the longer we can potentially go between increases. Samaritan also uses Karis to get additional rate reductions whenever possible. The ministry works hard on our behalf to keep costs low and members are working hard for each other. We do it in different ways. Some members are really good at getting those discounts, others are quite creative at finding low cost health care solutions by shopping around, and finding cheaper methods or facilities. Some members are able to donate extra during prorated times to shore up the difference, and some shoulder more of their own medical charges before submitting to the ministry for sharing. Everyone’s talents and resources for keeping costs low are different, but they all matter and they all count toward helping each other. I am so honored to be part of this group of like minded Christians who are goal driven to help each other with the financial burdens of dealing with health care.
I’m rather frustrated that so little is being done nationally about the actual cost of health care. The ACA didn’t do anything to reduce that inflation. Health care ministry members, all of them, are probably working the hardest at reducing costs simply because we are more conscious of the charges and ask more questions about what is necessary, what something costs, and finding the best way to pay a reasonable price. We are shopping around and using our health care dollars a lot more wisely because we are at the forefront of the discussion. Ministry growth will only help that, but we are still a tiny pebble in a big pond. Please pray about this, for the sake of everyone we need a good solution to the runaway train that is healthcare pricing in America.