As a full-time missionary ministry family–health insurance is not a given.
When Obamacare became available we bought a policy through the marketplace. We quickly learned, however, that the “Affordable Care Act” was anything but affordable. Insuring Mark and I and our then college student son required a $1500 monthly premium for a high deductible health insurance policy. Instead it should be called the “Accessible Care Act” because it did indeed cover pre-existing conditions like breast cancer which I battled in 2013 and 2014. For that we were grateful.
As we were considering our options we kept hearing about a health sharing program called Samaritan Ministries. I couldn’t imagine not having health insurance. To me that was like not having car insurance or homeowners insurance! You have to have health insurance! Yet, health insurance was becoming unreachable to us financially. We finally decided to do our research and ultimately chose Samaritan Ministries as a different way to do healthcare beginning in January 2016.
I’ve waited to share about our health sharing decision until now because I wanted to get time and experience under our belt. I won’t recommend something until I’ve used it long enough to feel comfortable with the resource or product. We’re now finishing up our fifth year with Samaritan Ministries and I can wholeheartedly say that this is our new normal for managing healthcare expenses.
Here’s how it works: We choose what’s called Samaritan Classic. In Samaritan Classic the first $300 of any health incident is covered out of pocket–kind of the same concept as a deductible. (That first $300 can also be shared if you secure a discount for services. For instance, if you have a $3000 medical bill and you ask the provider for a cash pay discount and they give you a 10% discount for cash pay, your $300 responsibility has been eliminated by the discount you negotiated. Our experience, by the way, is that most providers offer anywhere from a 20%-50% discount for cash pay.)
Expenses above the $300 are shared with other members. So every month we pray for and send our $454 share directly to another member who has a healthcare burden that is being shared. ($454 is the share for a family of 2 and $530 is currently the Samaritan Classic share for a family of 8.) One month out of the year our share goes directly to Samaritan to cover administrative expenses. The other 11 months our share goes directly to another member who has a need. Samaritan matches the needs up with the shares and tells you who to pray for and send your money to each month.
Samaritan can be used alongside health insurance and because of my breast cancer history, we chose to do that for me only for the first two years we were on Samaritan. In fact, when we were trying to decide what to do, I called Samaritan with some questions. They informed me that if I did health insurance plus Samaritan, it was likely that in most situations, Samaritan shares would cover any health insurance deductible I would have.
Indeed that is exactly what has happened. I had rotator cuff surgery in early 2017. With my $6000 deductible, we were looking at $6000 of out-of-pocket medical expenses. As the bills came in for my surgery and follow up physical therapy, every penny of my deductible was shared by Samaritan members. I had no out-of-pocket expenses. We didn’t even have to pay the first $300 because the insurance discounts reduced that (most providers give insurance companies pre-negotiated discounts on medical costs).
Even if there is an expense that doesn’t qualify for being shared (such as a pre-existing condition, orthodontic work, oral surgery, etc), you can submit those things as a Special Prayer Need (SPN). Each month we’re assigned one special prayer need that we’re asked to pray for and given the opportunity to voluntarily donate $30 to if we’d like. If every person who gets that SPN is able to also donate the suggested amount, the entire financial need for that unsharable medical expense will be met for the member!
Samaritan also offers something called Samaritan Basic which comes with a lower monthly share amount and a higher threshold amount that is your responsibility before a need can be shared. We’re staying with Samaritan Classic, but for some folks Samaritan Basic is just what they need to make healthcare even more affordable. Oh and by the way, healthcare sharing members are exempt from the federal requirement to have insurance or pay a penalty-tax.
We’ve been so pleased with our decision to leave behind health insurance, replacing it with a health sharing plan. If you’re struggling with affording health insurance and are looking for a different way to handle your healthcare needs, we highly recommend Samaritan Ministries.
More than 250,000 Samaritan Ministries members share over $26 million per month in medical needs directly, one household to another, without using health insurance. It’s a healthy, stable, Christ-honoring ministry that has figured out how to harness the power of community!
If you’re thinking about making a change and have any questions, please ask! We’d love to help you determine if this could be a good option for your family.
And if you decide to make the switch…tell them the Savage’s sent you! We LOVE knowing when we’ve helped someone along the #LivingWithLess journey!
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