[Update to the update: I’ve added a note about another feature — it’s below!]
In recent months, there have been some interesting changes at Samaritan Ministries, the Christian healthcare sharing network that The Artist and I (and now my mother and sister as well) belong to. I thought I’d give an update!
First of all, if you’re not yet familiar, you can read my previous posts on the topic here:
So, what’s new at Samaritan?
For one thing, the whole system has been streamlined tremendously thanks to Samaritan moving more of its business — almost all of its business, in fact — online. Whereas I used to have to collect all my bills and physically send them to Samaritan, making sure to make copies for my records, I can now simply upload photos of those bills online. Even opening up the process of opening up a new Need (see links above to know what the heck I’m talking about) can now be done online. It is remarkably easy.
Even the share payment part is becoming simpler, as folks can now opt into a system of using PayPal instead of receiving checks. Your monthly share will only be payable online if the person you’re sending it to has signed up for the PayPal function. As more people do this, more of the process will be online. I still think it’s a good thing to send paper checks along with those caring notes, though!
[2/7/2018 Update: In the original post, I forgot to mention that the online portal for Samaritan members (known as the Dashboard) now gives each member access to a community forum where members can connect to other members: prayer requests, feedback for Samaritan, connecting with other members to share information about providers, etc. It isn’t extremely active but it’s also relatively new — I think it’s a great idea and I actually have been asking for just such a resource for a while now!
The Dashboard also gives members access to other resources like Healthcare Bluebook (where you can look up costs of procedures for shopping/comparison purposes), a 24/7 Nurse Advice line, information about best prices available for prescription drugs, and more!]
But, in perhaps bigger news, there is now also a new pricing option at Samaritan called Samaritan Basic.
Essentially, Samaritan now offers a healthcare sharing plan that costs less and covers less, with a higher “initial unshareable” (equivalent to deductible). So it’s similar to what you’d be doing if you just bought a less expensive health insurance plan; less coverage, but also less cost.
“Samaritan Basic will allow those who have been wondering if health care sharing is right for their family to explore the option at a lower monthly share amount,” said Anthony Hopp, Samaritan Ministries’ vice president of external relations. “We hope that current Samaritan members will use this new level of sharing to introduce health care sharing to their friends and extended family members. We know that families have different needs and budgets, and we want to make sure that even more believers come together to bear one another’s burdens through health care sharing.”
You can see what the difference is, and calculate for your own household, here on this cost information page.
Also, I just wanted to share this story about a couple who entered into Samaritan Ministries even though she had a pre-existing condition. Not to say that Samaritan is the answer for everyone (because I know that the pre-existing conditions thing is a major concern and a very reasonable one), but just to say that it can work out if this is what you’re called to do — the five year clause is one that does open up possibilities.
It’s worth considering: If the condition is a chronic ongoing one that involves something that is not catastrophic, consider whether your overall savings when you use a health sharing group offsets the ongoing costs of treatment.
For instance, suppose you save $1500 a month by being a member of Samaritan, and your pre-existing condition would cost you an average of $1000 a month if you paid out of pocket. That cost still represents an overall savings of $6000 a year! Even though $1000 a month sounds scary, the benefit of paying it is clear. Just something to think about, because I know that health insurance is just insanely expensive these days!
As always, I’m more than willing to do my best to answer your questions if you have any!
I was not paid to write this post. I am just a huge fan of Samaritan, which has been an enormous blessing for my family the past three+ years (including two babies and multiple other Needs submitted), while The Artist has been studying (after having left his job with a comfortable insurance plan)!
However, if you do decide to sign up, it would be a big help to us if you mention our names – John and Deirdre Folley – in the referral section! We receive a credit that helps us to pay the next month’s share – thank you so much!