Government rarely provides more efficient, more effective, or more affordable solutions than private sector solutions. But sometimes private sector solutions fall short, too. This is why I opt out of both solutions when it comes to my family’s healthcare.
My household is one of the 30,000 members of Samaritan Ministries, a healthcare collective who — like “good Samaritans” — help one another through healthcare-related emergencies. It is…
- NOT a government healthcare plan. Samaritan is one of the many exceptions to the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare). We have not needed (nor wanted) to accept Obamacare’s health care solution and we do not need to pay a tax penalty for our refusal.
- NOT a private insurance company. We do not own typical health insurance. This may seem risky to some, but we have never been without our medical needs taken care of.
Wendy and I are absolutely convinced that Samaritan Ministries is the best solution for my family. It may be the best solution for you, too.
I’d like to share with you why I’m so confident in this alternative solution. It is definitely a paradigm shift, but I have found it far worth it for the sake of these three considerations: efficiency, effectiveness and affordability. These are considerations usually decided upon by everyone but you — the doctors, the insurance company, or the government. Samaritan puts these in your control, and I think that’s worth it. Let’s explore each.
1. Efficiency of Samaritan
Early in our married life, Wendy and I were on a government health insurance plan in Minnesota. MinnesotaCare is a publicly subsidized program for residents who do not have access to affordable healthcare coverage. It was heralded at the time as one of the most efficient government healthcare solutions in the country, but MinnesotaCare inevitably cost Wendy and me hours in application lines, obvious upcharges at clinics, and co-payments that were always there anyway.
I hope this doesn’t sound cruel. My judgment of the system is not judgment on people who, like us in the early 1990s, could not afford insurance. I’m just saying it is not an efficient system, and I dare anyone to argue with that. Government efficiency is inherently going to come up short, and in the end it does little long-term help for the families the program is trying to help.
In 1995 I got my first teaching job with a doable healthcare plan that came with my employment. My plans shifted a little when I moved to Colorado and started journalism. Premiums ran roughly $1000/mo. for my growing family. It was fairly consistent as about 20% of my income, and that was the same with everyone I worked with at the time.
Then I left employment. I continued my insurance policy for about six months through COBRA, but the premium of $1200/mo. quickly encroached into 40% or 50% of my struggling income. It was very difficult to come up with this.
And for what? My family had no debilitating or chronic sickness and were in generally excellent health. This mattered little in the insurance world. Premiums were premiums. Pay up or get out.
We got out when we discovered Samaritan Ministries. We have been members for 10 years. Every check we write (which is currently $405/mo.) is sent directly to someone else in our membership directory who is working to pay down their healthcare costs. We currently have no receipts of our own. We gladly pay $405 every month and send the check with a “get well” card and note of encouragement. The day may come when we will welcome the support.
We have received support in the past. Tens-of-thousands of dollars worth. This is the real test of the alternative system, and it succeeds far ahead of government or private solutions.
2. Effectiveness of Samaritan
The occasional trip to the doctor is one thing, but what about those massive visits, the ones that encroach into six-digits? We were the latter for several years of Samaritan membership. Until 2011.
My family was hit with three emergencies that led to an overwhelming stack of medical bills. We didn’t have insurance, but we were members of Samaritan Ministries. Even though we believed in the cooperative alternative to healthcare and had thought through it logically and reasonably, we were a bit shaken by the stack of medical bills:
- Micah put his hand in a table saw. His finger was saved with reconstruction of his forefinger.
- I had a bout with myocarditis. They thought at first it was a heart attack, but it was a virus that cause my heart to slag.
- Wendy had a tumor in her throat. It was non-cancerous (thank God!), but was a distraction when she ate and it needed to be surgically removed.
That’s pretty hefty when added up: roughly $130,000. All within six months of each other. Total amount covered: all of it. Every penny. Neither Obamacare or the best private insurance can claim such a testimony.
But it took a change in perspective, and that’s what scares people off from Samaritan. We didn’t “submit a claim” to the company and the doctors didn’t sit around and wait for the check from the government or insurance company. We met the doctor’s bills head-on when we attained the service.
Apprehensive? I don’t blame you. It wasn’t fun meeting the accounts receivable person in the emergency room. “Insurance?” they ask. “We will pay cash,” we return, and without exception they always attempted to persuade us to go on government healthcare. But we insisted through these emergencies and took the risk, and we’re very glad we did.
Still skeptical? I’d like to challenge your apprehension. Samaritan Ministries is affordable for all.
3. Affordability of Samaritan
If you are looking for insurance, you are probably thinking of your own ability to afford it for you or your family. It is daunting and I don’t blame you. But what about everyone else involved in your misfortune, like the doctors or hospitals? I’m extremely grateful for their services, and I don’t want to give them the short end of my personal savings.
This is where the Samaritan Ministries solution is truly remarkable. The accounts receiveable person in the emergency room only pushes government healthcare because the hospital thinks they won’t get paid. Once they are convinced that yes, they’re getting paid cash or sliding a card for the medical services, they’re all good. So good, in fact, that standard collections procedure is to cut my bill by 40%, sometimes even more.
Samaritan members are encouraged to negotiate better medical rates. They even have third party agencies that step in and help you with the really big bills. I’ve been surprised at how affordable medical care is when you take personal part in the price negotiations. I’ve also been surprised at how willing doctors and hospitals are in working with Samaritan and me. They have often expressed at how much nicer Samaritan is compared to private insurance companies — and infinitely nicer than government healthcare.
Look at Samaritan as going straight to the health care provider. By removing the middleman (either government or private insurance), you are removing an entire process of red tape, regulation and attempts to control prices or services. I, the member, am in total control of my medical care, and the medical provider (doctor, hospital, pharmacy, etc.) is in total control of pitching their price to me. It couldn’t be a fairer transaction, and everyone comes out happy in the end.
This is hardly the case when you’re leaning on Obamacare or private insurance. Medical care providers usually have an entire staff of people whose sole job is to make sure the money comes in. Insurance companies can be ruthless when it comes to covering procedures or dictating what care is and isn’t necessary. I can’t blame them much, either. They are merely looking at the bottom line, just like we all do and should.
With Samaritan, only two people remain in the room: me and my doctor. He or she wants to care for me, and I am willing to pay for that care. Simple.
There aren’t too many other bases to cover. Seriously, what other consideration do you need to make in order to see that Samaritan is the best choice you can make in your health care decisions? You’ve got these covered:
- Samaritan is more efficient than government or private insurance.
- Samaritan is more effective than government or private insurance.
- Samaritan is more affordable when compared to government or private insurance.
There are more details to cover to make sure this fits you personally, which is why Samaritan provides a FREE information packet. Request your free Samaritan information packet today.