Generation Cedar

I’ve mentioned this in a post before, but I think it’s worth its own post now that I can speak from personal experience.

If you are tired of paying high premiums for insurance and still not being adequately covered, or you don’t like the fact that half your premium pays a high-profit industry, you simply have to consider switching to Samaritan’s Ministries. It’s an especially great choice for the self-employed.

I plugged the ministry when we had just joined, but we had not actually had the chance to use its services yet.

I can attest now, though, after two claims, that we couldn’t be happier with this ministry.

In a nutshell, here’s the way it works:

The ministry is made up of more than 15,000 Christian families.  Each family pays a monthly “share” of around $300 (you can pay a little more for extra coverage).

Each month, you send your share to a family who has a medical need. (Samaritan’s send you the name, address and amount to send.)  If you are on the receiving end of the shares, you usually receive several personal letters, cards and encouragement along with a check.  You will receive checks from individual members until your medical need has been covered.

Samaritan’s covers any need over $300.  That acts as a “deductible”. Most needs are covered 100% after it exceeds the $300, up to $250,000, unless you pay the extra “Save to Share” for needs that exceed the $250,000.

We have just received all the funds needed to cover my husband’s ER bill and my prenatal/delivery costs for the baby I’m carrying (due in about 5 weeks!).

(By the way, you learn a lot about the bureaucracy of insurance companies when you pay as a “non-insured customer”.  As in, most establishments reduce your fee by around 60% automatically because the inflated amount usually charged to insurance companies is never the actual amount they receive.)

Not only does the system work like a well-oiled machine, but there is something so refreshing–so *right* about sending our check directly to a family, with every penny going to pay their bill, helping bear their burden, rather than sending a much higher premium to an insurance company where much of it will pay someone’s ridiculously high salary and we still won’t have all our bills covered.

So, that’s my personal plug for Samaritan’s. You should really consider it! Also, if you mention me as your referral, we get a deduction in our monthly share–another great perk of this company 😉

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50 Responses

  1. How did you get the hospital to give you an estimate? We have Samaritan’s as well and are reaping the wonderful benefits now as I’m pregnant. The doctor gave me an estimated cost(I think they called it a global cost) and we have already recieved the money to pay that but I can’t get the hospital to give me a written estimate for a normal vaginal delivery.

    1. I have had the same problem with my hospital (I’m 8months pregnant with our 4th child). They tell me they can’t give me any sort of “estimate” since “everyone’s deliver entails different charges”. We have insurance through my husband’s job but are paying an incredibly high amount just for the doctor’s fees alone (we have cuckled over this a few times because we have had two babies without insurance and have paid nowhere near half of what we are paying this time around…kinda confusing to me!). We want to be prepared for the hospital charges, but have no idea what to expect.

      Prayers for you for a safe delivery! 🙂

    2. Tanya,

      Our hospital just has a “universal fee” that they charge all non-insured patients. For us, it’s $2700. This does NOT include an epidural 😉 but I doubled checked with Samaritans and they DO cover that too…you know, in case I decide not to go natural again 😉

      1. Who do you think is covering the rest of your cost? My friend is an OBGYN and told me it costs more than that to cover a birth (dr. fees, nurse fees, epidural, cost of the OR). You are just shifting your costs onto someone else.Other people must pay more to recoup the cost. The hospital knows it will never get it’s money if it charges full price to an uninsured family.

        1. J,

          Again, you’ve only half read/half understood/half responded. If you were paying attention, you’d see that the doctor’s office charges a completely different fee from the hospital. We paid them separately, the standard amount they charge when they don’t have to go through insurance companies.

          We will also be paying separately for the epidural–about $900 if I’m right. The universal fee the hospital charges is sufficient. If you understood how insurance charges work, you would know that the hospital charges a ridiculous amount of money because the insurance company automatically “writes off” a huge percentage.

          Without the bureaucracy of insurance companies, medical establishments could operate like this with everyone and charge far more reasonable amounts.

        1. Nope, we’re NOT insured. There is no guarantee of payment, no legal contract, just the mutual trust of a group of people to share your financial burden. The company merely places the people in contact with each other, if you will. Imagine it on a smaller scale. Your neighborhood decides to pool all their money together to fund a neighborhood “emergency fund”. You all agree that if anyone has an emergency, you will be able to dip into that fund. It’s no promise, just a mutual agreement among a group of people.

          By the way, we are upfront with the medical providers that we belong to a sharing program. If it were fraud, they wouldn’t agree to it.

          Tell me, why does this arrangement (which is a biblical model) bother you? By the way, medical establishments seem to prefer not dealing with the legal red tape of the insurance companies. They get their (adequate) money without the hassle.

          1. What insurance is is people pay into the system all the time and then get their bills covered when they need it. When you are uninsured, you are on your own to pay the bills.

            You ARE insured. Legally what you are doing is fraud. You are not personally paying out of pocket. The system you pay into is giving the money to pay the bills when you have them, which is exactly what insurance does. You are receiving the uninsured rate when you have insurance.

            Giving it a different name doesn’t change what it is.

          2. Elle,

            I don’t mind your asking questions if you’re genuinely interested, but don’t comment with such an accusatory tone about a company that is nationally recognized as a legitimate and LEGAL operation. You act as if there are a few people huddled together practicing a fraudulent, secretive operation. Do some research before you hurl opinions that have no basis in facts.

            There is a big difference in how Samaritans works compared to insurance companies. The company does not pay your bill. Individuals do. As I answered another commenter, if it were illegal and/or considered insurance then a. it wouldn’t exist, and b. medical establishments would bill you as an insured patient.

            Samaritans actually provides you with a card to SHOW your medical providers. We don’t go in there and say “we have no idea how we’re going to pay this”. We tell them up front exactly the kind of program we belong to and tell them we will be getting our bills paid by a number of members from the program.

            At that point, if the medical establishment wished to charge us like an insured patient, they could–but they don’t.

            It may be considered a “loophole” but is is one everybody agrees with, even the medical providers. It is a Christian approach to “sharing” without the socialism that burdens a society. Interesting that the ones who have a problem with Samaritans-which reduces burdens on everyone involved, have no trouble with a socialist system that steal from everyone in the name of “sharing”.

          3. I’m pretty sure that I remember reading that groups like Samaritan’s are exempt from the mandatory new health insurance mandate, so there wouldn’t be a fine from the federal government for not purchasing insurance. BTW, I am not an advocate of Obamacare (and hope that it gets reversed in the high court), and we have health insurance, so I have no skin the game. BUT, I’m pretty certain that since Obamacare is exempting health share caring ministries from having to buy mandated insurance, that it isn’t fraud to use. What’s the big deal?

          4. I am a healthcare provider and will share what I know on this subject. Word Warrior is right–there is nothing fraudulant or illegal about the way Samaritan works. As a healthcare professional, I am allowed to give a percentage off the cost of someone’s care if I don’t have to bill their insurance. As an in-network provider for insurance companies, I have to accept a lesser amount for my services anyway when billed to insurance, plus I have costs in billing and processing. When someone pays for their care either out of pocket or even with a health savings account card, or if someone else pays their bill for them, the bottom line is that I don’t have to bill their insurance company. Therefore, they qualify for the discount. This is legal and customary. I hope that helps with any of the confusion on this subject.

  2. We have been contemplating Samaritan for about a month now. Do you have to pay the first $300 for every medical bill? And what if a medical bill is below $300. You are responsible for it and don’t send it in?

    1. Heather and I both answered below, but in case you didn’t see…

      You only pay up to $300 when a need doesn’t exceed that amount. If you go to the doctor and it costs $85 and that’s the only bill related to that injury/visit, you pay out of pocket.

      If a need exceeds $300 (and as Heather says, a need is defined as one issue, though you may have several bills from several doctors) and you receive any discounts, Samaritans covers the entire need 100%. Hope that’s clear.

  3. We have Samaritan’s too and although we haven’t had a need yet, we look forward to sending our monthly check to someone else’s need. We joined almost a year ago when we heard of it from Vision Forum.

    And Alissa, yes, you don’t submit a need if it is under $300. And you always pay the first $300 of any need that you submit. They base this off of the Galatians 6 passage of both bearing your own burdens and also sharing your burdens. They thought $300 was a fair amount that a family could bear themselves. We think it’s cool though, because if you have had to go to a variety of Dr.’s for one problem, or something like that, you submit it altogether as one need. And for a pregnancy, the entire thing is considered one need even though that need lasted 9 months, and even if there are unexpected complications from it.

    Part of Dough Phillip’s plug for it was also to not need to rely on the government for help, which resonated with us. We had government help with previous pregnancies and now know this is so much better because it is relying on God and His people to meet our needs instead of the world. Now, we didn’t have the $$ to pay for Samaritan’s when we were relying on the gvt., so I am not sure what was the best thing then, but now we squeeze it in our budget because we believe it’s a wonderful biblical thing.

    AND the other awesome thing is if you are part of a sharing ministry like Samaritan’s then you are exempt from getting mandatory insurance with the health care reform, so you are not paying into the abortion industry.

  4. Kelly,
    Thank you so much for sharing your personal experience w/ Samaratins and detailing more about how it actullay works. Glad to hear that your family has been blessed by it! We have been aware of it for a while now but haven’t researched it further. We would love the fact that our money (His $) wouldn’t go to help fund morally wrong and unethical procedures like abortion.

  5. You are due in 5 WEEKS?! How exciting! I remember watching your “natural” delivery last time…and was very happy that you were able to have that experience and do it with grace.

    I did my first four “natural” and had a bad time of it. I’m sure God’s grace was there…but I don’t think I availed myself of it most of the time! : ) I also had bleeding complications/overstress/etc. (Lost our first baby…that’s why we have 8 children here instead of 9) My last five were with epidurals and I have not had any complications with any of those, praise God. I’ve always wished I could be a “natural” mother and do it at home…but God has been gracious to us even in using modern medical breakthroughs to help us through labor/delivery. (I have an incompetent cervix too…so all my children would be dead today, like the first, if it weren’t for medicine/surgery and a lot of bedrest!)

    May whatever you and your husband are led to do for this child ultimately be to the glory of God. Thank you for sharing your experience about Samaritan…I’ve heard/read about them, but it is nice to hear a personal testimony of how it exactly works. I’ll be praying for a joy-filled, grace-rich labor and delivery of your newest treasure!

  6. Let me correct one thing, Heather, that you said to Alissa…

    “And you always pay the first $300 of any need that you submit.”

    Actually, if your need is over $300 and you get a discount of any kind on your bill (which is almost always standard if you’re paying out of pocket) Samaritan’s covers the entire bill–you do not pay $300. Our bills have been covered 100%.

    1. Kelly, I didn’t even know that…how wonderful!!
      And one other cool thing about Samaritan’s is that if you need any doctor’s appointments/surgeries/etc. they have also implemented another tool to make it easier to pre-negotiate a price up front through a medical bidding website. You log in to the bidding website, fill out the form of what services you need and doctors come on and bid on your service. From what I understand, you can’t do this on your own, but you can do it through Samaritan’s.

  7. That really sounds like an excellent program, especially for pregnacy. If anyone cares to answer this (I need to send a bunch of questions to Samaritan!!), when it comes to pregnancy, since it is considered one need…do you submit all medical bills at the end of pregnancy or continually send them in one at a time throughout the entire pregnancy. I think they like you to send everything at once so I’m not sure how that would work. Thank you all for answering!!

    1. The way it has worked for us is that my doctor gave me a bill right up front–his “global fee”. Then, I had a lab on the first visit which came in soon. The hospital wrote a contract, stating their universal fee. Those were the only 3 charges at this point, so we have submitted that amount to be covered. After the baby is born, any additional charges (epidural, etc.) can still be billed and “lumped in” with the pregnancy need, though it is sent in separately.

      Sometimes if the bills are spread out really far, it may be necessary to just contact providers and explain that you will be paying the account in x amount of time when your money arrives. They are generally very receptive.

  8. My husband is self employed and I have known about Samaritan for a long time. We have never signed up, but with the insurance regulations changing, maybe now is a good time? Thanks for the reminder, Kelly!
    And blessings on your upcoming birth. I have given birth to 10…with 7 epidurals, 4 of which didn’t work very well. My first 2 were natural, as well as my 10th. The medicine in epidurals makes me so sick, I was tired of being a zombie from Phenergan because I was vomiting from the epidural! Whatever you decide, you’re getting a precious new blessing to bring home…so what if you get some relief during labor? Hope everything goes well for you!!

  9. I will have to check Samaritan out. We use another Christian sharing program but this one sounds like it may be a better deal. We love not having traditional insurance! We get to shop around, get discounts, and choose the health care practioners we want. I like how there are fewer suprises and the guidelines are simple. When we had insurance we would get medical care and then get a bill later for our portion and we never had a clue how much we would owe until then. (It was usually a lot too!)

    I am due in 6 weeks and even paying my midwife out of pocket is doable since we do not pay high monthly premiums and then still end up footing a lot of the bill.

  10. Thank you for sharing this information. I’ve heard you mention it before and thought it sounded like an interesting idea but never really looked into it further. Do they provide assistance with dental and vision things too or is it only medical?

    1. Beth,

      They cover limited dental needs but regular vision exams/glasses, etc. are not publishable.

      However, and I meant to talk about this incredible part:

      They send out a prayer list each month including medical needs by members that are not publishable. They suggest that anyone who feels led/able to pray/help financially with that need might do so.

      Once when we had sent a $25 check to a family who had a need that was beyond Samaritan’s limits, the family returned the check to us in the mail a few weeks later with a letter stating how the outpouring of members’ help had more than paid for their need and so they returned the $25 because their bill had been paid! Isn’t that amazing? (it was a huge bill, by the way.)

  11. Kelly,

    Thank you so much for sharing this! Your post couldn’t be more timely for us. We are not going to have any jobs for a while starting in April, and we will need health insurance for our new baby and for the two of us. We weren’t sure where to turn or what to do, but now I am convinced this is the way to go. I love the biblical idea of health insurance–so refreshing!! Will tell friends and family about this company.

    Bless you for all you do for us readers!

    Sarah

  12. Thanks Kelly for responding. I don’t know why the hospital won’t give me an estimated charge. They will give it to me over the phone but will not give it to me in writing…so it’s been a bit frustrating to say the least )-:

  13. Love your blog! Appreciate all of your wisdom! Wanted to throw this out there as well…We use Samaritan’s Ministries and LOVE IT!!! They are so awesome to work with. I love too that our monthly checks are going to other believers in need. It was the best choice we made as far as health care for our family.
    RF

  14. This ministry is wonderful! One thing worth mentioning – especially on this blog (and someone please correct me if I’m wrong) is that you can’t join the ministry if you are currently pregnant. I think this is to avoid having people join just to get their pregnancy/delivery costs covered and then leave the ministry right after.

    1. Tiffany,

      This is incorrect. A while back they did have a “pre-exisiting” waiting period for maternity for 18 months–but not anymore! In fact, when we joined, I was mid-pregnancy with my last child and we could have received reimbursements up to the amount we had paid in at time of delivery!

      1. Thank you Kelly for the correction! I must have read the material back when they had the pre-existing thing in effect…but am VERY happy to know that’s not the case as my husband and I are considering it and I am 14 weeks pregnant! If you want, feel free to delete my original comment so it won’t mislead other readers. 🙂

        1. No worries–I was really excited when they changed this policy so I’m glad you brought it up–most companies do have a pre-existing clause when it comes to maternity. Samaritan’s former clause is what kept us from joining for so long 😉

  15. I have a question or two, if I may. Do you pay outright all wellchild and yearly visits, since they are under $300? How does Samaritan’s make the money to run if your share is always going directly to others? I looked into a different health share ministry, and it seemed incredibly complicated and time consuming when it came to negotiating costs with caregivers, sending in bills, etc. Is this as simple as it sounds?

    1. Yes, anything under $300 you pay out of pocket. Keep in mind though, that doesn’t apply if you have one medical need where multiples bills through different providers are incurred. In other words, if I have a lab that falls below $300 but it is connected to another medical need that pushes my total over $300, it will all be lumped together into one need.

      I’m not sure I’ll get this right, but I *think* I remember that Samaritan members pay a yearly membership fee and then their first 3 or 4 payments go to Samaritan’s to cover costs of the ministry (and they do an outstanding job and send out enormous amounts of prayer requests, forms, etc.) Or maybe it’s just one of those.

      As far as hassle, I guess it depends on how you look at it. I felt like I was always hassling with the insurance companies anyway. To submit a need, you call and request a form. On the form you list all the bills that go with that need. You then have your pastor sign it and send it in. The next month your money starts arriving. That’s how it works!

      1. Thank you! This is something I’ve been looking into for about 2 years now, but hadn’t found a company that seemed to fit us. This is definitely something to think and pray on. How exciting!

    1. When you have submitted a need, you get a list of the people who have been asked to send you their shares. You keep track of their payment and send the form back to Samaritans after the need is met. Straightforward, not tricky.

  16. Sorry, I just repeated what someone wrote earlier…except mine was far more profound and insightful. And if you believe that…

  17. My husband is currently reading through the material that Samaritan’s sent and we were confused about some of the things you & the others have been “talking” about so THANK YOU for clearing up some of the confusion! I do have one more question: Do you take part in the Motor Vehicle program? My husband is a semi driver so we are wondering if we should sign up for that part of the program. Praying for God’s grace throughout your delivery!!

    1. Grace,

      Thanks for the well-wishes! I don’t think we signed up for the motor vehicle part, but it may not be a bad idea given your circumstances. I’m glad they provide that as well.

  18. A HUGE thank you for this post AND to each replier – it has helped me a great deal as I look for an option for my children and myself. My husband passed away in 2009 and we recently had to move out of state – we are now looking at reducing our insurance costs and I believe the Lord may have found it for me. I will continue to pray but will be making my phone call soon.

    Can you email me at the above email address with your name so that I may give you the referral?

    Abiding in Christ,
    Angie H.

  19. What happens when bills get over $250,000 – it seems today that when someone get’s really ill (cancer, etc.) that bills can get very high.
    I believe now that most (not sure) insurance companies cover up to a million or more.

    1. As I mentioned in the post, if you pay extra (known as “save-to-share”) you are covered for needs beyond 250,000…I’d have to look it up again, but I think it *is* up to a million…or maybe half, I can’t remember 😛

  20. What about home church groups? We are very interested in this ministry as we do not have insurance and have not had it for many years. My husband was Associate Pastor of a church and I was the worship leader for years. Three years ago we resigned and began meeting with a group of Christians outside the traditional church setting. My husband is still a licensed minister and functions as a “chaplain” for the youth group home he works at. Are we excluded from Samaritans because we don’t meet in an actual church building? Any information you can provide would be fantastic!

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