As with everything, there are pros and cons to be considered. For someone newly looking at a healthcare sharing ministry, your list of pros and cons may be different than mine so this list is somewhat subjective. These are in no particular order.
(If this is your first visit to the site and want to learn more about Samaritan Ministries please use the menu at the right for lots of details about what I’ve researched and experienced while being a member) Enjoy!
(disclaimer: These are all topics which I consider positive, your viewpoint may differ)
- Monthly share amount is probably a LOT cheaper than your insurance quote.
- No messing with Obamacare website, no concern about identity theft from that website, no headaches with lost data, account issues, etc.
- Membership is fully exempt from the ACA so you don’t pay any fines/taxes to the IRS
- Your monthly share is sent directly to a member with a medical need (some would see this as a potential negative, I see this as a very big positive because of total transparency about where the money goes and what its needed for)
- This is a non-profit ministry with very low overhead (1/12 of member shares go to the ministry which is 8.333% annual overhead– insurance companies can have as high as 15% overhead for admin costs)
- The President of Samaritan makes a reasonable salary, not millions like insurance company CEOs
- Samaritan will share expenses for alternative treatments (pre-approval required)
- Samaritan will share reasonable travel expenses if the resulting treatment saves at least 30%
- Your doctor (licensed medical) doesn’t have to ask permission from an insurance company to treat you. If he/she orders a treatment that meets the guidelines, Samaritan will share it.
- Samaritan will never share in abortions
- Monthly share amounts do not automatically increase every year. Members must vote and have majority agree to any share increase. This typically happens every 18-30 months. A vote is held if 3 months in a row have to be prorated.
- The family rate (currently $530 on Classic) is the same for 3-7 person memberships, and is only slightly higher for large families of 8 or more.
- Members who need a very low monthly share can do that with Samaritan Basic.
- You will receive prayers and cards in the mail, along with money, if you have a need. Health care with Samaritan goes far beyond money, it includes many spiritual benefits (members often keep the cards to bolster their spirits during recovery and beyond)
- Samaritan staff will pray with you during your time of need
- You can see any doctor you want, no need to worry about out-of-network extra expenses. This is a huge help when traveling, no need to check the network. Just go where you need to.
- International medical bills are shared like any other. They must be converted to US dollars and submitted in English.
- Being self-pay can often lead to even bigger discounts than you previously got with insurance
- We don’t have to get the discounts on our own, Samaritan will assign an advisor to get bigger discounts if we are unable to, or just too uncomfortable. Read more here. Samaritan walks us through everything, submitting needs is very simple and fully supported.
- Referral credit when someone joins and lists you as their referrer
- Needs which don’t meet the guidelines for sharing (like dental) can be shared as a Special Prayer Need. No insurance company helps you pay for needs which aren’t traditionally covered so this is a big bonus help.
- No lifetime caps
- No per incident caps (only if you are a Save to Share member, otherwise there is $250,000 incident cap if you only have the regular membership)
- Member reviews are overwhelmingly positive and members are so happy with the ministry
- Members actually look forward to getting their monthly newsletter and paying their share assignment. Have you ever said that about paying your health insurance premium?
- Very large needs are shared as part of the Save to Share program. This means we don’t have to worry about a catastrophic need wiping us out, it can be fully shared by Samaritan (largest need submitted to date is $1.5 million, discounted to $700k and fully shared)
- Samaritan shares needs for nontraditional treatments, such as a cancer drug that has been successful but isn’t fully FDA approved for that type of disease, or cancer treatments out of the country which may not be allowed in the US. (always consult with Samaritan in these cases)
- Fellow members are all Christians leading Christian lifestyles to keep costs low.
- Your are back in charge of your healthcare without an insurance “bean counter” deciding if your health and life are worth the expense (this one is priceless)
- Your membership cannot be cancelled for having a lot of needs
- Home births and VBACs have the $400 or $1500 personal responsibility waived
- You can join while pregnant and still get the pregnancy bills shared as a special prayer need
- Pregnancy “coverage” with Samaritan is better than any insurance company I’ve seen, with the exception of military coverage
- Needs are shared in a timely fashion
- There is no co-insurance or high deductible to worry about (major awesome!)
- Generally no long waits to speak with someone at the main office. They have busy times, but the most I have waited is about 4 minutes vs 50 minutes with my old insurance. Typically someone answers right away.
- Compared to insurance, you will likely end up paying far LESS out of pocket for any need you have if on the Classic plan. $400 is smaller than most insurance deductibles and certainly smaller than most max copay amounts. On the Basic plan your risk is limited to the $1500 PR and the $13,500 cap on the 10% co-share.
- Your provider will likely be paid in full before insurance would have paid them without any of the headaches insurance can give (remember you pay them from the shares you receive, they are not paid directly by Samaritan)
- You are not required to be on a government assistance program (medicaid, etc), even if you happen to qualify for it. Samaritan members believe in taking care of their own. If you are on medicaid/medicare, etc, they are required to pay their portion first, Samaritan will share the remainder.
(disclaimer: I don’t really see many true “cons” to this, these are just points that should be considered and may or may not be a concern to you)
- Money to pay the bills will likely arrive about 3 months after you suffer the need, about 2 months if you have instant medical bills (not likely). Because of this you will need to be able to cash flow a small monthly payment to your providers. This may or may not include using a credit card depending on your available cash and the size of the bill.
- Some pre-existing conditions are never shared (type 1 diabetes) Other pre-existing conditions require an amount of time in “cured” status before being shared (cancers and heart issues 5 years, most others just 12 months)
- Members are actively part of the bill receiving and payment process. Most people aren’t used to that as insurance transactions happen behind our back. It takes some getting used to having those large bills come to your house. This could also mean requesting more detailed copies of bills a couple of times if the hospital likes to consolidate (hide) charges. A large need will have a lot of bills to manage (of course it would with insurance, too). Keeping a list or spreadsheet of bills of you have received and submitted will help keep your organized.
- Most clinics/hospitals have self pay customers, but insurance is far more common. Depending on how often they see cash patients their memory on how to handle self pay processes could be “fuzzy”. I suggest calling your area clinics/hospitals to get familiar with their process and standard cash pay discounts before joining a healthshare ministry.
- Regular checkups/routine care appointments are not shared. This would include a colonoscopy if you aren’t having symptoms and just are getting one because you turned 50. You should be able to get a colonoscopy for about $2100, and can be budgeted for. (If you are having symptoms and a colonoscopy is ordered, or if you have a routine colonoscopy and they happen to find something (cancer or noncancerous polyp) then it IS fully shared)
- Immunizations are not shared, but can usually be done for free or very cheap at your local immunization clinic
- If you decide to get back on regular insurance it can only be done during open enrollment (Nov-Jan usually), or any time you have a qualifying event (birth, new job, retirement, etc). However, the question of insurability is no longer an issue because of Obamacare rules. The uninsured cannot be denied coverage (in fact I would think we’d be treated like royalty)… I should point out our family never intends to go back on health insurance. Samaritan rocks!
- General dental needs are not shared except as Special Prayer Needs. You will need to cash flow dental checkups, braces (braces are often submitted as special prayer needs), etc or get a dental plan.
- If you have a need you will get cards and money in the mail. Most would say, “Great!”, but it can be a LOT of cards and money in the mail. A $25,000 need after discounts would be at minimum 48 cards assuming everyone sent $530 (which they won’t as several smaller checks will also be assigned). A $150,000 need could have over 300 cards coming to your house. Some people may find that to be a burden. I personally think it would be a lot of fun to read all those cards, mark off the checklist, and deposit checks. Not to mention the satisfaction of paying those medical bills off so soon. You could have hundreds of households all praying for your healing. The power of that is so humbling.
- Maintenance drugs are not shared (4 months of drugs for each incident are shared). Depending on the cost of your regular medications that may or may not be an issue (goodrx and other discount sites can offer very big savings, though, sometimes costing even less than your insurance copays)
- Needs can be prorated if there are more needs than share money available that month (now expected to be 3-5% with a max of $2500).
- You are technically uninsured. But a great quote I found from another member says that Samaritan is “Assurance” not “Insurance”. So TRUE! Samaritan provides assurance that our needs will be covered. It’s not a contract with a for-profit company who’s primary goal is profit at your expense, it’s a promise from a group of Christians who’s sole purpose is to support you in your time of need and get your medical bills paid. Wrap yourself up in that thought. No fighting over contract details and denials. Just people of faith praying for you, sending you money and all in the name of God. When you think about it, this assurance puts your medical needs on an even more solid financial footing than corporate insurance does.
49 thoughts on “Pros and Cons (Positives vs Negatives)”
Good afternoon. My wife and I are looking at insurance options, and between Samaritans Ministries and traditional health care insurance. For our quote, Samaritans is about $100 more per month. However, we are looking to have an in-home birth/midwifery, which our traditional insurance won’t cover. If we had the Classic plan, would the full in-home birth costs be covered after the $400 deductible? Also, am I understanding it correctly that after our $400 deductible and monthly costs, that any major health costs will be fully covered? Or is it that the “shared” amount means that unknown portions above the $400 will be covered up to $250k? Thank you!
Hello. The $400 portion we’re responsible for is per incident. It’s starts over each time there’s a new need, but not based on a calendar, so you don’t have to worry about January 1 deadlines anymore. Samaritan does share for home births as long as the pregnancy began before membership (I think 250 days before) and you both are members. Sharing above the $250k amount is done if you get Save to Share, which allows all the needs above $250k to get “covered” also. I strongly recommend it. You can also submit costs for pregnancies during the pregnancy, don’t have to wait until after the birth. Samaritan is very baby friendly. I recommend giving them a call for further details on how pregnancy sharing is handled. They have always been wonderful to speak with and really know their stuff. Good luck with your future baby plans and your decision about which solution is best for your family. 🙂
As longtime Samaritan members, we have enjoyed sending money directly to others who need help. I am happy to see this site is here, and I find it to be useful and fairly accurate.
I want to re-emphasize to visitors that Samaritan has never covered our everyday needs. Insurance used to pay for most of the costs of routine office visits, with a small co-pay on each visit. Our yearly “out-of-pocket” costs while using Samaritan always includes over $1000 more in checkups (compared to the co-pays), because there is no sharing for maintenance of minor conditions. Routine “wellness” screenings are also not covered in the Samaritan program, and can run hundreds of dollars, or even higher. A colonoscopy in our area is $3000 and is likewise not covered at all.
So please don’t be fooled into thinking that such a low price will meet all your health care needs. Samaritan is for responsible people who will store up the extra money they need for ALL their routine healthcare.
Pros: Samaritan is calm and mostly hassle-free. Their staff has always made it as easy as possible to deal with when we had issues, even if we caused the problem ourselves. There is no “in network” and “out of network” and no “pre-approval” in the insurance sense. There is just you and your doctor’s office or other provider, hopefully enjoying simpler, more personal relationships. With no insurance complicating the financial arrangements, you just ask for the cash price. I have found this less complicated than dealing with insurance, but your experience may vary.
If you want to go with Samaritan, you must, must, MUST read and understand and agree to all the Samaritan Guidelines. There are a lot of specific things that they will not share the costs of, like cognitive development problems, PTSD, and maintenance treatments; and there are limits on things like therapeutic visits and medical equipment. There are moral limitations as well; if your kids are injured due to drinking and driving, the costs of treatment are not shared, and you are on your own. Especially take note of the rules for pre-existing conditions!
I hope Samaritan works for you, but just be aware it is not suitable for everyone.
Yes this is great information, thank you. As an addition, colonoscopy’s are covered if the doctor finds something. But since we all hope nothing is found it is best to be prepared to cover the cost fully. Members also get very good at price shopping and finding way to do things for less. We ask more questions about the necessity of different test and what they cost (where to find deals), find ways to do immunizations for cheap or free, find the cheapest location for the exact same procedure, and don’t tend to run to the doctor for every little thing. We get the care we need when we need it, we are smart shoppers. We don’t skimp, but we also are not wasteful. I still feel this is the best way to do medicine. Choices are ours, not up to an insurance board, and we are supported by the backing of a huge group of Christian members.
How long of a wait can I expect when switching from typical insurance to Samaritan ministries?
Hi Kara. I think you’re asking about membership wait times, and last I knew you could set your membership to begin the day they receive the paperwork. However, our family waited until we had confirmation before cancelling our regular health insurance so we had a few days overlap “just in case”. Existing conditions would not be shareable as a new member as you already have them and would fall under any pre-existing terms for the specific issue, but any new medical needs can begin sharing immediately upon membership. If you have a specific concern (such as maternity) it would be best to speak with Samaritan directly.
Signing up for Samaritan’s seems like a no brainer….with one exception. My wife (58) has had mild Rhuematoid Arthritis (RA) for 3 years. Costs only $30/month for med’s plus a quarterly visit to Doc. We understand we’ll have to cover that as it’s pre-existing. No problem. Concern is that if the RA gets worse, drugs can run into several thousand dollars a month.(Humera). Any suggestions or workarounds for such a situation? Thanks
Hi John. It’s good that you’re researching the possibilities. I would recommend pricing the potential future medications on something like goodrx or a Canadian pharmacy to see what the cash outlay would be, are there generics, are there other sources that aren’t quite so pricey. Depending on how soon the condition worsens (and maybe it won’t), adding a secondary policy for her someday may be an option (depending on cost comparisons), or maybe she rolls along like normal until at least Medicare age when everything changes again (7 years). I love Samaritan, but I also have to evaluate the financials for our family at least annually. Every year since we joined (2014) it has made no financial sense to get anything else, Samaritan wins hands down. If it came to it, I am willing to even pay a little more just to have the medical freedom. With open enrollment for insurance coming once a year (Samaritan is open all the time), I basically go year to year in my analysis for potential costs. Knowing there’s always risks, there’s always money out of pocket, health can change anytime, how are the numbers now and do they still make sense or has something changed? If a year from now something has radically changed, you may have to make different decisions; like getting her another policy, or different cash meds, or someday Medicare. Hopefully it’s not an issue for a very long time, or ever. But if it is, you’re not really making a decision today that is permanent, but more 1 year at a time. Many regular insurance policies change yearly anyway, so it’s not that different. Knowing you’re evaluating a year at a time, maybe consider saving back money to cover a few months of the more expensive medicines until any bigger changes have to be made. Then you aren’t surprised by the costs if they come and you have resources to help. Also don’t forget about submitting any big expenses as Special Prayer Needs as you can still get some support for them from members. So really, the biggest work-around may be a mental one to gain perspective on your ability to be flexible. I don’t like feeling trapped and insurance made me feel that way. Joining Samaritan is also not a trap, since we always have choices and sometimes have to made new decisions as life comes at us. With so many unknowns for all of us I think just doing cost comparisons on a regular basis for all the options will help keep you grounded in whether or not your current path makes sense. Some people are surprised at how expensive things are even with insurance, and that it isn’t helping that much. Every family has to work those our for themselves. Best of luck in your decision. Samaritan has been awesome for our family, I hope it is for yours, too.
Thank you for such a thorough description, it is very helpful. I’m still a little confused on pre-existing conditions. For example: If I have a symptom of something that could require MRI, ultrasound, labs, etc. but have not visited a dr yet. If symptoms began a few weeks prior to my signing up, does that mean it is pre-existing and not sharable? I would be liable to pay the full amount regarding that entire issue?
Hi Kris. That is correct. Samaritan is symptom driven so anything that has symptoms, medications, or visits prior to joining would make that issue pre-existing, whether a doctor had seen it or not. It could still be shared as a special prayer need (as long as it met guidelines for that), but not as a regular need. Non-related issues would still be fully shareable though from the beginning, it would just be that one need that would qualify as pre-existing. Once this issue has gone the appropriate amount of time being resolved; ie: no symptoms/meds/visits (1 yr, 3 yr, 5 yr, etc) it then drops out of pre-existing status (a couple things never do, but most just have a wait period). I used a lot of words, hope that makes sense. 🙂
I just browsed through, but one con I didn’t see mentioned is some members take a VERY long time to cash checks that you send them, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to nudge them. Despite the fact that I regularly balance our checkbook, some months are very tight and things slip by — and if enough little things have slipped by, and that one person you sent a $530 check to FINALLY decided to cash after months, suddenly you’re inundated with overdraft fees. It’s enough to regularly stress me out when I see that my share doesn’t accept PayPal (which is most of them). Between that, wondering if they’ll approve a claim when we have one, and not being able to afford to pay out of pocket to go to a doctor when something just feels off, Samaritans has just been a monthly source of stress and “what if?”s for me. I prefer traditional insurance. Getting cards from strangers is in no way enough to sell me.
Hi Naomi. I haven’t had anyone take quite that long to cash a check, the longest was about 5 weeks, but usually it’s about 1-2 weeks and well within normal timelines. I feel your frustration, we write checks to various school organizations for kids’ activities and they routinely take a while. I keep a separate check register and pretty much never use the bank’s so I can see that balance instead of what the bank thinks (old habit from my teen years that has proved useful). We’ve also never had trouble having a need approved when we had one. I’m so sorry to hear the processes stress you out. The stress you feel is how I felt about insurance when the EOBs came and showed we still owed way more than I thought, not to mention the crazy high premiums. Samaritan has removed those stresses for us, I’m so sorry it hasn’t for you. Samaritan actively looks for way to help members. Prior to our first need I had concerns about whether needs would be shared because of my experiences with insurance companies. Insurance couldn’t tell me what would be approved ahead of time, but conversations with Samaritan are far more straight forward. Once we went through the need process that first time it was easy to see how simple and so much less stressful it really was. I’m still hearing scary and painful insurance stories from my friends on insurance, while we have complete healthcare freedom. Friends who wait for weeks in pain to find out what insurance will require of them, of if they’ll pay for it. I honestly have no such doubts or hurdles with Samaritan. If we need something we get it, we do not let an insurance board dictate our medical care. Samaritan comes through. I encourage you to seek the assurances you need by speaking with a Samaritan representative, but if not, then I hope you are able to find an alternative that meets your needs. God bless.
From personal experience, over 80% of those I send to use PayPal now. It has risen dramatically over the last few years.
Same here. I have been able to share through PayPal for every share since I started 3 years ago. 100 percent of the shares have been PayPal. Samaritans is a thousand times better than insurance or medishare.
I can understand the frustration when you are trying to keep your finances straight, but unless I’m mistaken once I wright a check I treat that money as if it is no longer there cashed or not it is money spent and therefore should never cause an overdraft situation. I would just carry that $530 as a deduction from my statement balance until it clears (however long that takes) as long as the check is outstanding that amount should stay in my account.
Can my Samaritan membership be dropped at any time? Meaning if I get a job that offers benefits, can I opt out of Samaritan?
Yes. I believe you have to cancel before the 15th of the month in order to avoid the next month’s share assignment. Otherwise yes, starting and stopping can happen anytime during the year.
I’m 64 years old and have been with Samaritan for almost 5 years. My wife and I are generally healthy and try to stay safe. We have not submitted a single need in those 5 years–thank God ! My question is, “At age 65 can I use Medicare Part A but opt out of Medicare Part B and use Samaritan instead?”. Thanks. Casey
Hi Casey, sorry, I don’t know enough about Medicare to much help for you. I believe you can do what you’re thinking, but I don’t know what the ramifications are. I would suggest speaking to both Samaritan and a Medicare advisor about the best path forward.
Hi Casey! I am a full-time Medicare Specialists. I personally use christian sharing as well. In order to opt out of part B you must have what Medicare would consider credible coverage. Unfortunately, they do NOT consider Christian sharing creditable coverage. However, their are MANY options for you once you have part B.
1) Is the Save to Share program not needed if you are part of the Given program instead of Basic or Classic programs. My understanding is the Save to Share program is only necessary for big events if you are in Basic or Classic, but not the Given program.
2) Does the Given program have different rules about what is shareable or not shareable? The answers given in this “Pros and Cons” section are all based on the Classic and Basic programs. I’d like to see answers that include the Given program as well.
3) If/when you answer this question, can you please email be the answer too in addition to posting the answer to your website?
Hi Andy. I haven’t done much research into the new Given program yet. Once I know more I will update the site with what I learn and my perspective on it. I’m sure it’s a great program, as Samaritan strives to offer lots of options and support for its members in a number of different ways. Samaritan offers a nice comparison PDF to get your started: https://samaritanministries.org/uploads/documents/Samaritan-Ministries-Program-Comparison.pdf — Hopefully someday I can add a little more about it on this site.
My wife and I are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Your membership agreement appears to exclude us.
Are we not eligible for Samaritan Ministries health cost sharing.
Hi Thomas. Members of Samaritan must be able to agree to their statement of faith, attend church regularly and meet a few other lifestyle requirements found here: https://samaritanministries.org/resources/requirements . If there is a gray area for you I recommend contacting Samaritan staff for clarification.
Does Samaritan have any stand alone insurance for massage therapy? Kaiser Permanente cut this from their plan and Medicare AB with tri care for Life wont pick up. I am 67 years old
Hi Tom. Samaritan doesn’t really have anything like what you’re suggesting. Massage therapy is shareable with a Classic or Basic membership, but has the following rules: “Therapeutic Massage sessions are shareable if lawfully prescribed by a licensed medical professional to treat a specific medical condition. Outpatient massage sessions will count toward the 40 total of all therapy-type sessions limit for any one need. To be shareable, billings for each treatment must indicate the condition being treated. Maintenance treatments are not shareable.” There isn’t a way to share only in massage therapy, you would need to enroll at a full member level which on top of your medicare and tri-care would likely be cost prohibitive.
Hi, does Samaritan have many seniors who drop off Medicare to go fully with Samaritan?
I’d love to hear some feedback from that perspective.
I get tired of having to keep up with a) Part B, b) Gap insurance and c) Part D for prescriptions for 2 people.
Seems like the simplicity of one Samaritan plan that covers us both would be preferable. But I realize that if we were to end up with a pre-existing condition it would be very difficult and expensive to return to Medicare from Samaritan if for some reason Sam was not a good fit.
Thanks for your thoughts for Seniors.
Hi Harold. My understanding is that there’s a government penalty not to have medicare so while I think Samaritan has members doing what you’re proposing, I’m skeptical that there are very many. But I suspect there are some. I would recommend calling Samaritan’s main office to get their take on the idea and see if you can get names of members who are willing to speak to others about that same experience. I have always found their staff to be very helpful whenever I’ve needed to call.
I have heard of people doing that as a supplemental part but if you don’t take medicare after so long they can deny you for pre existing conditions unlike the affordable care act.
Hi. I’m wondering if my husband and I signed up for Samaritan and got pregnant shortly after, would it be covered by Samaritan or do you have to be a member for a certain amount of time for it to be shareable?
It depends on the due date. Their guidelines state: Maternity needs are shared when the doctor’s estimated due date is 260 days or more after the date the mother’s membership began. In general, maternity needs include bills for prenatal care, delivery, postnatal care, and miscarriage, and are treated like any other medical expense. So it’s not a long wait, but that timing should be considered. It also must be at least a 2 person membership to get full maternity sharing. Maternity needs can also be shared along the way, you do not need to wait until the birth to begin submitting bills. I strongly recommend submitting them as you go along to keep the money flowing to your providers.
So as I’m reading this, well written, article I wonder about the amount of time 8 have to put into this in regards to paying and sending. Seems to me, one must be very organized to use this type of insurance or you may be paying a plot out of your own. What happens when a catastrophic event happens and you, personally, are unable to direct the journey?
Hi Mechelle. Any catastrophic medical event is going to require a lot of time managing the bills no matter if someone has insurance or a sharing ministry. The difference is Samaritan will help guide the member and it’s technically less paperwork because you aren’t getting initial bills then those EOBs from insurance, and then an updated bill (triple paper), you just get one initial set of bills and then checks to cover it. The bills are submitted to Samaritan for sharing. Catastrophic events are going to have bills coming in for weeks if not months. They would all be sent in as you get them. If the member is unable to do it themselves (hospitalized, coma, etc) then the problem is the same whether they have insurance or Samaritan… a friend or family member or church liaison would step in to assist locally. Samaritan assists if there are questions at their level, but physically receiving bills and payments to help cover those has a local aspect that patients have to solve no matter what. For non catastrophic events its the same thing, just less volume since there’s fewer bills/checks to manage. We’ve had a couple of needs ourselves, minor surgery type things. It was actually quite easy. Far smoother than with insurance. We ask for the cash discount pricing, got the bill, submitted it, received checks. Any portion we had paid ourselves we just reimbursed ourselves back into savings when the checks arrived. Unpaid portions we paid to the medical provider once we got the checks. Samaritan sends you a checklist so you know exactly who to expect money from and how much. Getting a lot of checks in the mail each day is like Christmas. Yes, lots of mail to open, but at least it’s happy mail, full of prayer and money to cover the burden. 🙂 We haven’t had a major event, but videos I’ve seen from other members indicates that process is also handled well. An important difference is the amount of money due out of pocket when it’s all over. With insurance that out-of-pocket amount is typically going to be far higher than with Samaritan. Paperwork is paperwork, medical events are time consuming no matter what and self organization of paperwork is always helpful. That doesn’t change. The big issue is the level of support and care you get. Insurance companies can’t offer that compared to an organization like Samaritan.
It’s not that much to handle. I’ve had a couple surgeries and it’s not bad. I did almost freak out 2 weeks before one when the hospital demanded over $80,000 deposit up front. I contacted SMI and they took care of it. What a huge blessing.
When I go to a doctor, do I ask for the cash price or some network pricing that Samaritan follows?
You would ask for the cash price. It gives us the freedom to pick any doctors we want, without being tied to a fixed network. I love it. 🙂
Also ask for the *BEST* price. Sometimes it’s better than cash. Some will give you Medicare pricing which can be a fraction of the cash price.
What is the time line for preexisting conditions before it can be shared?
Hi Randy. It depends on what it is. Samaritan is symptom driven, so generally if you have no symptoms, treatments, or ailments associated with it then it’s shareable. There are exceptions of course, with most having pre-existing status for a year, some to 3 years, but other things like Type 1 diabetes are never out of pre-existing status. If you specific conditions are concerned about I recommend calling Samaritan and they’d be happy to discuss it with you as everyone’s situation is unique and may lead to more questions and concerns. They are so friendly and actually want to help. 🙂 Additional guidelines for Classic & Basic are available on this page: https://samaritanministries.org/resources/classic-basic-guidelines
The organization does not do what they say they do as it pertains to a speedy reimbursement process and will put the member in a financial bind because of processing delays that are not communicated to the members. Customer service personnel do not reply in a time sensitive manner and will leave you on hold for hours (this is the truth). We are very disappointed in the service level and feel they have become too big to service their members appropriately.
We will be leaving
Gregg, I’m sorry to hear of your difficulties. It sounds like they stubbed their toe a bit communicating with you. Based on my experience and interaction it seems very unusual and I’m sure Samaritan staff would want to work to correct it. I don’t believe they would deliberately leave anyone on hold for hours, perhaps they had trouble with their phone system that day. Of course you need to find what works for you and I wish you the best as you find what fits.
If you have the answers for a few questions, I’d appreciate it.
1) *Pre-existing* means those conditions you were officially diagnosed with prior to signing up, right? So if you developed those conditions after signing up, they’d be covered, correct? (i.e., diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, etc.)
2) I can’t get my head around the Save to Share program, can you explain by speaking really slowly? 😉
3) Must monthly share payments be made via snail mail, or can they be done online, via e-transfer or through direct withdrawal, etc?
4) If you live outside of the US and there’s no one available to manage your account in the States, Samaritans mentioned an option or qualification other than having someone stateside, do you happen to know what that is? Their website doesn’t explain.
5) As far as you’re aware, do people living outside of the US have any trouble using Samaritan’s?
6) Is Samaritans only available for US citizens?
Hi Lynnie, I’d be happy to help.
1. Samaritan is symptom driven, so if someone has symptoms of an issue before joining, even without a diagnosis, that is also pre-existing. But yes, anything that develops (symptom or diagnosed) after membership is not considered pre-existing. There is no waiting period on issues when you join, and if there’s a question Samaritan listens to your doctor regarding the timing of an issue.
2. Samaritan shares up to a certain level for each need (for example, $250k for Classic Level), but some medical issues cost way more than that. To get full sharing for big events like cancer, heart attacks, etc, members need to join the add-on program called Save to Share. It basically means that there are no hard caps for how much “coverage” we can get on a need. To be part of it we pay our regular Samaritan share, but it also means we have an add-on amount each month that changes depending on how many of those really big needs came in for the month. Usually it’s pretty small add-on amount, and it’s never more than 1/2 the money we’re asked to set back for it. So our family puts $399 in a savings account each year at our bank (we control it, earn interest on it)… (amount depends on family size). Every month we may be asked to add a portion of that to our regular monthly share that we send someone. Most months it’s less than $20 extra, sometimes it’s a little more. But it’s never more than 1/2 of what we have in that savings account at any one time. Samaritan keeps track of what we are asked to spend and never overruns our available funds. It’s basically a really cheap way to increase our sharing protection so we don’t have to worry about whether the really big bills will be shared. And since the money is already sitting in savings it’s not a scramble to come up with the small extra amount, just pull it out of that savings account.
3. Online payments through paypal are sometimes an option, but since we are direct sharing with other members, the person you’re sending money to has to have opted for receiving online payments for it to work. More are more members are doing this, but it’s not the majority yet I don’t think. Otherwise payments are sent snail mail.
4. I’m not aware of another option besides someone stateside to handle it. But give Samaritan a call, they’re super friendly and are great at explaining all the options.
5. I’ve actually never heard of any members outside the US having problems. Bills must be translated into US dollars but otherwise I believe it goes just as smoothly as those in the US (and with online bill submission it’s even easier than it used to be).
6. Membership is based on being a Christian, agreeing to the membership terms and agreeing to the statement of faith. US Citizenship is not a factor.
I hope this helps, and I hope you will give Samaritan a call about question #4. They are amazingly friendly and helpful and actively work to make things great for members. God bless!
2) to expand on admin’s response…
It’s like an add-on for unlimited major medical, but instead of sending the whole premium every month, you save it in your own account and only pay out a portion when it’s needed.
On overseas…. I have US bank account and use bill pay to pay my share. Bank mails it for me. I put prayer comment in for comment. I give confirmation # for check # and my number for phone #. I have to add the payee manually each month, but hide after it clears.
[Took couple months to figure out this worked better for me than finding someone to mail for me (didn’t work) or my mailing a check from overseas. But I did give them a US contact name, in case I was not responding for whatever reason, who might know why or how to contact me.]
Assuming you are required to have overseas insurance where you live in addition to needing insurance in USA….
… avoid my mistake should you get sick overseas …
Samaritan’s health share is good, but I fell in gap by saving members money and never turning in when my condition was first found…. Other (gap, overseas) insurance treated and paid, so I didn’t turn in. TURN IN anyway. (Had Samaritan’s for USA as required.)
This post is to help a very few others avoid problems I had. TURN IN even if never need to turn in bills to document for future that first occurred AFTER joining. Ditto if initial treatment under the minimum. Most will turn in bills, so most can ignore this post.
Samaritan’s will ask you to PROVE conditions were not preexisting. EASY WHEN JUST FOUND>
SO TURN IN EVEN IF other (overseas) insurance paying, so you get in forms to prove it was not pre existing during treatment, when easiest to get the forms filled out.
A doctor’s letter saying when a condition started and documenting no symptoms beforehand will not be accepted. Only their form is accepted – normally fine.
Besides with Samaritans’ you will get more prayer coverage, which is more important than covering your future costs, too.
Samaritan’s both thanked me for saving members money, but didn’t ask for forms until I was almost completely limited to USA couple years later due to caring for a family member. Then I needed follow-up tests on a schedule. The Lord knew not needed. So got overseas tested late, but overseas after family member was with the Lord.
You can avoid my problems, by turning in for documentation even if initial treatment covered by something other than Samaritan’s or under the minimum required to document for future.
This is a very informative and well written article! I looked up Samaritan again because I have been with Christian Healthcare Ministries for several years. Although they have worked out for only two related needs I had, it has been a concern for me that it took so long to receive my share amount I believe it was over 5 months, and submitting my bills was really complicated. Am I right in thinking that Samaritan’s process is fairly easy? This program sounds much more flexible and efficient, but I don’t attend a church and don’t really want to find a new one….as you know most churches nowadays are more like social clubs and preach social justice instead of God’s judgment! However I will consider switching even though the Classic monthly amount is quite a lot higher than the Gold Plan of CHM.
Hi Angela. It’s nice that you’re already familiar with how sharing ministries work! I agree that 5 months is a long time for reimbursement, that would stress me out. Samaritan’s needs get shared in the 2nd month after they are submitted, it’s very fast. So our surgery need in early December was submitted that month to Samaritan, and it was shared with the February share assignments. We received all our shares by about the 3rd week of February. If we had submitted the bills in January it would have been shared in March. The process is very easy, and we can even do it online.
It is a requirement that we attend church regularly so we may gain the benefit of fellowship and help keep us accountable. I know that no church is perfect as we are all sinners and need God’s Word, but I hope you can find one that meets your spiritual needs and feeds your soul.
You wouldn’t have to do the classic level with Samaritan, you could choose the basic plan which has a lower monthly amount (usually) but a higher personal responsibility level. Samaritan has happy members on both. 🙂 Either way I recommend you join Save to Share, which is very similar to CHM’s Brother’s Keeper program. We LOVE being on Samaritan, and enjoy it’s flexibility and support; and simple speedy process.
I feel my two surgeries are not being covered due to us not knowing how to handle this in the beginning. First surgery was November 2018 which failed and so second surgery dine by different doctor is not being covered because it was done in October 2019 which is not right it was two different surgeries
Hi Barbara. Since I don’t work for Samaritan I don’t have details baout your need, but that Nov 18 surgery wouldn’t be shared if it didn’t meet the guidelines for sharing to begin with (pre-existing issue maybe?), or the bills were submitted more than a year past the event. It sounds like you may need to call Samaritan to get an explanation for why that first one wasn’t shared. As for the second one that was only a couple months ago, so you’d want to submit the bills for that to Samaritan for sharing as soon as you get them from the providers. If these are for a pre-existing condition then they would need to meet Samaritan’s timelines for that, but they could be submitted as a special prayer need if that timeline hasn’t been met yet. Definitely contact Samaritan for details about how to submit those bills. Samaritan is very good about answering questions and helping you through the process. It sounds like you may want to get a list of questions together and go through them one by one so you can get this handled. God bless.