Healthcare sharing ministries provide individuals and families with an affordable way to share medical expenses in a like-minded community. Healthcare sharing is not health insurance and offers a faith-based approach to paying for medical care.
Members commit to various statements depending on the specific ministry, covering belief in God, freedom, and ethics, and we seek to support the community through healthy living, wise decisions, and good stewardship.
Members make an affordable monthly contribution online, which is matched to a medical need within the group. The community commits to supporting each other’s medical expenses after a low annual threshold is met.
Some healthcare sharing ministries are:
Christian Healthcare Ministries
Paying for healthcare without a third-party system, such as with a health sharing system, sounds foreign to many. Having done it for years and having worked for the country’s largest insurer, I know firsthand. Health-sharing ministries function differently than the norm, and, in our experience with Samaritan Ministries, sidestep many of the pitfalls of the current insurance system. In health-sharing, patients are self-pay, financially responsible for whatever medical expenses they incur, but any eligible expenses are reimbursed through contributions of members. Each month, rather than paying a fixed premium to a third party, Samaritan members send a fixed payment directly to another member who has an eligible medical expense. There is not an additional onerous layer of bureaucracy, and that cuts out much that follows from that layer (network issues, arcane policies, customer service hassles, enrollment, high deductibles, disputing claims between providers and insurance, etc.). In health-sharing, patients pay providers for their services just as if they did not have insurance, they submit paid bills to the ministry, and only after so doing are the patients reimbursed—directly by other members.
A medical bill always being the responsibility of the patient may be a scary prospect, but the crushing expenses we have come to expect are largely a product of being in the third-party system. Our experience with Samaritan ministries, on the other hand, has been liberating and a blessing I cannot imagine deserving (of course a big benefit of the program is being supported in prayer and charity by others in the system). My wife and I take health seriously, and have had very clean bills of health: you have to have some level of good health to be eligible for the ministry as pre-existing conditions are not covered, you have to live in accord with biblical principles, and any need for which you are treated that costs less than $300 to treat is your responsibility without reimbursement. But after signing up with Samaritan, we had several large medical bills for acute conditions (many tens of thousands in a few years)—all reimbursed. And these bills were a fraction of the cost they would have been if we had insurance, since many providers offer self-pay discounts (including pharmacies).
Knowing our costs are being shared directly by other Christians has encouraged us to further treat our health as an investment and to be economical with our care, striving to find discounts and fair-billing providers. We see the name on the payment of the family we are being reimbursed by, or we ourselves reimburse another family. In addition to being a great benefit for our family and the Christian community, it’s one more fruitful step in healing the healthcare and insurance sectors as a whole. That alone is a strong motivation to be in the program since I know I am not just supporting my family and other Christians but our money is helping guide healthcare itself. When you see how it works you want to see it grow.
Christian Healthcare Ministries
My wife and I cut costs on medical insurance by switching to Christian Healthcare Ministries health sharing plan. We went from paying over $900 per month for family coverage through BCBS to only paying $300 per month for my wife and all four of our kids. I have coverage that is paid for by my work so they were the only ones that needed coverage. That being said, we have incurred medical bills over that last 5 years and each time we submit them after asking for a self-pay discount and all of them have been reimbursed 100%. It takes more work but, now with their online member portal, it makes uploading the documents and itemized bills easy. I would recommend looking into one of the many programs that offer an alternative to medical insurance and save a ton of money every month.