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. Christian Healthcare Ministries 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!
|Updated||SAMARITAN||SAMARITAN||CHRISTIAN HEALTHCARE MINISTRIES|
|PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AMOUNT BEFORE SHARING STARTS
||$400/incident||$1500/incident||$0 if need is at least $500. No sharing for needs less than $500||$2500/incident||$5000/incident|
|family of 3+||$495||$350||$516||$354||$234|
|couple mid 20s||$440||$200||$344||$236||$156|
|MONTHLY COST REDUCED IF FEWER NEEDS THAT MONTH||Yes||Yes||No|
| SHARING LIMITS PER NEED, BASE PROGRAM (more available,
||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 and $2500 for midwife||hospital only|
|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|
Save to Share program for everything above $250,000.
No 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||
||Step up plan for pre-existing conditions (Gold plan only, must be maintenance mode, not actively being treated)
|CATASTROPHIC||Save to Share Program. For needs above $250k, you put money in savings that you may be asked to share. $15 annual fee
||Brother’s Keeper Program. For needs above $125k (gold members, unlimited – silver/bronze extra $100k), $40 annual fee. Avg cost is $45/quarter for each membership unit (each person is a unit, max of 3)
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.|
- 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.
- 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 $400 per incident on Classic and $1500/incident on Basic. CHM’s is $500/unit/yr on the gold, $2500/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 $400 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.
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 Christian Healthcare Ministries 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. 🙂
Update: We had a second need this year and everything was again shared 100% within 2 months from submitting the bills. We got very nice notes along with the checks to cover our bills, and the process for submitting the bills to Samaritan was quick and easy, all done online. Why have headaches with your healthcare? Samaritan made it very easy and I also enjoy the prayer support from the staff when I just needed a little pick-me-up related to my illness. It was so comforting.