What I Do for Healthcare

When I went out on my own in 2004, my COBRA insurance was well over $1,000 per month. Way out of my league at the time. That’s when my family discovered Samaritan Ministries. We’ve had a wonderful nine years of membership with our top-most healthcare needs met, and for 1/4 the cost.

Get Well from Samaritans

The 501c3 nonprofit runs quite an organization. Samaritan is not health “insurance” per se, but rather a network of people who take care of one another’s medical needs. We subscribe to their monthly newsletter, complete with helpful articles and lists of members who have specific health-related issues. The network informs us of who to send our monthly fee (approximately $300), and we usually send it with a nice get-well note. The ones pictured were notes we received when we filed claims.

As of July 2012, Samaritan has collected over 21,000 member households. That’s about $7 million of health-related needs being met every month, with nothing filtering through insurance industries or government bureaucracy. My wife and I send out a check every month to the family or individual we’re assigned, and we know that 100% of that fee goes to a family in need.

Up to about a year-and-a-half ago, we made low to modest claims to Samaritan Ministries, making just a handful of claims over the first seven years of our membership. Pregnancy expenses have all been reimbursed. Wendy was hospitalized in 2007 when she came down with a nasty flu, and the bill was over $7000. All of it was reimbursed. One of our children had a cosmetic surgery, something not normally covered in insurance, and though Samaritan wasn’t able to pull completely through for us, the kind people in the network sent us extra gifts to reimburse most of our costs.

When we tell doctors we work through this network, they have consistently dropped their fees 40-60%. Hospitals are used to the red tape of insurance, lawyers and political nonsense, so the response to someone who offers to pay in cash is warmly received.

Paying upfront has been noted by some as a “down side” of Samaritan – that we have to pay our medical bills and file claims for reimbursement later. We’re largely a debt-free family (meaning we have plenty of lines of credit), so it always has made sense for us. Besides, hospitals and doctors are usually very willing to work with patients who aren’t able to pay right away. All in all, the comparative advantage is incredible.

I would venture to guess that one of the biggest reasons people resist self-employment is because of health insurance costs. Samaritan Ministries has been a tried-and-true alternative that my wife and I put our full support behind. See www.samaritanministries.org for more information. And if you have questions for me, go ahead and shoot me a message through my Connect Page. I’m an honest believer in the organization, so I am happy to answer questions.

Have you considered healthcare alternatives like Samaritan? 

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • That’s awesome! I’ve never heard of them before. What a great ministry!! Will be sharing Chris!

    • Thanks Erica. Let me know if you have any questions. Samaritan has come through for us everytime.

  • RickStevens

    Not being under an employer policy with lower deductibles has been the biggest struggle for our family since heading out into the world of self-employment. Moving to a high-deductible plan that had an Obamacare waiver from being required to offer abortive services was my main concern. Last October/November, we had to deal with the worst-case scenario as our youngest was in the hospital for nearly a week. After 2 ambulance rides, 2 days in pediatric ICU, as well as the room/board costs at two hospitals, we easily made our way up to the $10k deductible. However, in working with the folks involved across the board at both hospitals, the ambulance service, various doctors who were on call, etc., many of the costs have been lowered. We are now looking into Medishare as a potential alternative as well. Even though the monthly costs will be a bit more than we’re currently paying now, the total out-of-pocket could be thousands less. It’s truly amazing to see what the true cost of healthcare is when insurance companies, lawyers and red tape aren’t part of the equation.

    • It sounds like Samaritan is a perfect solution for you. Check it out. Seriously, I couldn’t be more pleased.

  • I am curious- why does Samaritan not cover mental health expenses for diseases like schizophrenia?

    • I have no idea. Have you contacted them with this question?

      • I did call- the gentleman I spoke with was very nice. Basically, what it comes down to is expense. I was concerned that there would be some belief that faith cures mental illness. The reason why I asked this question is that severe mental illness is costly and long term. I have a dear friend whose adopted son was covered by her insurance as a Catholic school teacher. The boy was very disturbed, a danger to others and had to be hospitalized so often her insurance was maxed out and they went broke to keep him alive and the rest of the family safe. I am keenly interested in how we as a society treat the mentally ill and how some groups deal with it. I was also curious about Samaritan because of the high rate of bipolar in the Amish community. They do not take government benefits so I wonder how they handle the long term expenses as well. I do know they use medication to treat mental disorders.

        Bottom line- I think Samaritan is a good company and an honest one. But how do we take care of those who are not easily cared for?

        • You’re raising really good questions, and thanks for calling to inquire. I recently found out that the #1 consistant factor to violent rampages isn’t video games or even guns — they’re behavior meds. It’s so evident that it almost appears to be a coverup that no one is talking about this. It’s definitely a discussion to be pursued.

          But as for basic healthcare, Samaritan is top notch.

          • Bea76

            Be careful what you say Chris. Not sure what study you are referring to but it definitely goes both ways. Our 3rd child had an awful time after the fire and we were trying everything to help her. I didn’t think she was stable to start the school year but the principal, teacher, and counselor convinced us otherwise. She lasted one day and 2 hours before the school called and asked if we would homeschool her till things got under control. They were worried because the incident that got there attention was of a scope that had another person been involved our 9 yr old would of been referred to juvenile court. Hooked up with an awesome child psychitrist and got her the help and medication she needed. She’s back at school with no issue. She was absolutely a threat before treatment and meds but now with her meds she still struggles but is no longer a threat to anyone. No idea if she’ll be on meds for life or not but I know we had a child we had to physically restrain from hurting others. Friends had to take our 2 yr old every day because she was too young to protect herself from her sister if for some reason our other daughter was not being supervised for a second (extremely rare – we had to supervise her 24×7 even when she was sleeping). If our daughter was not on meds there is no way she would be doing so well as she is now. Food for thought.

            • I’m not claiming to be an expert on it by any means, just going off something I read. There are millions on meds, so I’m sure there are plenty of anecdotal examples of them working.

              • With my friend’s child, medication was a godsend. Due to insurance issues, my friend would have to use different doctors, and some had wildly differing opinions on medication. When stable, on the right mix, her son was polite and helpful. When raging and unstable, it was a world few parents experience. Before medication, at the age of 6, this child could destroy his room, tearing out the drywall, ripping out the wiring. He broke the ceiling light and used the shards to come after my friend. As a little boy, he swung an unbuckled seat belt at her in the car, knocking out molars when she said, No, I can’t give you cookies. I am driving.
                I helped her when he was raging like this, as she was calling 911 for an ambulance. He raced out towards a busy road, I ran after him. What stopped him from entering traffic? He found a yellow jacket nest and began to catch them.

                I understand controversy over psychiatric medications in children, particularly with the diagnosis of ADHD. But severe mental illness is another category indeed and it distorts day-to-day living in a horrific way. My friend is the kindest person, consistent and loving, all that one could wish for in a parent or teacher.

                The boy is now an adult. He is on disability and rarely contacts his mother. We worry about public safety. We do.

  • stevescomment

    Our Pastor and his wife use Samaritan and recommend it highly. Our family is seriously considering enrolling soon ourselves. We’ve been without insurance for 3 1/2 years (since I became full-time self employed), and the plan looks wonderful to us.

    • I paid COBRA for about 6 months before getting on Samaritan when I first became self-employed. It’s far worth it. Keep in touch, Steve, and let me know if you have questions!

  • Pros and cons known between SM and Medishare we hear advertised on AFR. Our family OOP went up to almost $10,000 for providers in the system. Our premiums are more than doubled and the plan now (single plan through husband’s company) “bites”. Hubby is looking at one of these type plans. Anyone know where good comparison is?

    • I don’t know where a straight-up comparison is. The two are technically competitors, but they seem to respect one another enough to stay out of any “Pepsi Challenge” feuds.