Samaritan Ministries is not Christian health insurance.
It is, however, a ministry that provides payment for qualifying medical expenses.
The organization has more than 18,000 member households creating about four million dollars each month. They have been active since 1994.
Samaritan Ministries is a program whereby Christians pool their money to pay for one another's medical bills. If you are unsure of the concept, read this first.
There is one main difference between Samaritan and the other two alternatives to Christian health insurance (Medi-Share and Christian Healthcare Ministries). With Medi-Share and CHM, members mail in their monthly shares (premiums) to the organization's main office. The staff then sends out checks to those who need help with medical bills.
Samaritan does it differently.
Each month they send out individual letters to every member. The letter tells the member about another member who needs their medical bills paid. They are then instructed to send their monthly share (premium) directly to the member who needs their medical bills paid. The member with the medical bills then waits to receive multiple checks from others to pay their bills.
Will This Work for Me?
The method of payment chosen by Samaritan Ministries is unique. It may or may not work for you. You need to consider a few things.
- The vast majority of the time this process works for everyone. But there are times when the monthly shares do not cover all medical claims for that month. And there are other times when the needs are not as great as the normal monthly medical claims. The other two organizations collect shares (premiums) in one place. That way monies can accumulate when needs are less than the monthly shares collected. Then, when there is a month where the medical needs exceed the income, there is excess from previous months to draw on. Samaritan states that in the past 15 years every need has been met either through monthly shares or through other means such as gifts or discounts from the medical providers.
- Every alternative to Christian health insurance raises their rates at times. From my research, it is typically the members themselves who vote on when and by how much to raise monthly share amounts. Samaritan takes a proposal to raise rates to the membership when there has been three consecutive months where shares do not pay for all medical needs.
- The advantage that Samaritan Ministries has is that you always know where and for what your money is being used. You know the person who is benefiting from it because you mail your check directly to them. And you know how to pray for them because you are given specific information about the person’s condition.
- There is no traditional deductible or co-pay – at least not in name. Each member is responsible for the first $300 of the medical incident. Then $301 to $250,000 is shared among the members.
Members are also invited to participate in a program called Save to Share. This program requires each participant to set aside an additional amount in their own savings account. Then when another participant's medical bills exceed $250,000 people are asked to use their saved money to help with those medical bills.
How Much Does It Cost?
Samaritan Ministries monthly share amounts are very simple. They vary only by the number of people in a household. Currently, individuals contribute $135 a month. Prices rise from there. See their web site for current prices.
There are also administrative costs. Since members send their monthly shares directly to other members, the home office is supported by annual administrative fees paid by each household. The current annual administrative fee is $175.
Do I Qualify?
There are several qualifications that members must meet.
- Members must agree to a basic statement of faith.
- Members must be actively involved in a local church. Each person must submit a statement to this fact from their pastor.
- Members must abstain from using tobacco and illegal drugs and the abuse of legal drugs and alcohol.
- Members may not engage in extra-marital sex.
- Members must agree to practice healthy lifestyles.
What's Not Covered?
- Things that are not covered are generally pre-existing conditions. If you were having symptoms or treatment for an illness prior to your application, those needs will not be shared. This typically includes a pregnancy which starts before application.
- Routine checkups and preventative care are also something that each member must take care of themselves.
- Dental and vision needs are not covered.
- The first $300 of any medical need is to be covered by each member.
- Note also that payment is not very quick. By the time you submit your claim, it gets published and sent out to members, it will probably be two months before you see any checks from other members.
- Another note: members are not legally required to send their shares. Should someone fail to mail a check to the need assigned to them, they are removed from membership. The need is then assigned to someone else the following month.
What Do You Get?
- Basically, if you have a medical need that requires medical attention either in a doctor’s office, emergency room, hospital, or testing facility, you will receive up to $250,000 toward your medical bills. You are responsible for the first $300.
- You receive more than money for your bills. Because Samaritan Ministries is a Christian organization, they also emphasize spiritual and emotional support as well. People are encouraged to pray for those they send their shares to. They are also encouraged to send a note of encouragement along with their monthly share.
- Members who live overseas, such as missionaries, still qualify for Samaritan Ministries. The process is the same for them.
- Perhaps the greatest thing you receive from Samaritan Ministries is the feeling that you are not in your situation alone. There are people supporting you financially. There are people who are praying for you.
Visit the Samaritan Ministries web site for more information.