Samaritan Founder and President Ted Pittenger recounts reasons for the health care sharing ministry to be thankful following a difficult year
January 5, 2020
PEORIA, IL —Ted Pittenger, founder and president of Samaritan Ministries International (Samaritan, www.samaritanministries.org), a leading health care sharing ministry, says the ministry has many reasons to be thankful for what God has done at and through Samaritan over the past year.
In a State of the Ministry report to Samaritan members, Pittenger said, “The year (2020) was filled with challenges for Samaritan staff and members alike, many of which were related to the ongoing pandemic that seemed to change the world overnight. Through this turbulent season, one thing has not changed and never will change: Jesus Christ is still on His throne!
“None of the events of the past year caught Him off guard. He is the supreme Ruler of all things, and we can be confident in His faithful provision for His people. This past year alone, Samaritan members have reflected the Lord’s faithfulness by sharing $360 million in medical burdens. Samaritan staff and members around the world have also reminded one another of the Lord’s faithfulness through hundreds of thousands of letters, phone calls, chat messages, and emails.
“As we venture into 2021, I encourage you to turn your gaze away from the fleeting challenges we endure and turn it instead toward our loving Savior,” Pittenger continued. ‘For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord’ (Romans 8:38-39).”
In his report, Pittenger also pointed out specific ways God expanded His work at Samaritan over the past year. A few highlights included:
· Senior Leadership Changes. In February, Samaritan welcomed Will Cooper as the new chief information officer. In April, Mark Zander joined staff as the senior strategic planning advisor.
· COVID-19. Samaritan Ministries staff began tracking COVID-19 developments in January 2020. In March, it became clear that the state of Illinois was heading toward a stay-at-home order for all “nonessential” businesses. Given Samaritan’s role in the health care industry, these restrictions did not apply to Samaritan Ministries. However, since so little was known about the virus and its associated risks, Illinois-based Samaritan moved 95 percent of the ministry’s 400 staff members to work from home.
One unexpected advantage from the move to have staff working from outside the Samaritan office was a newfound opportunity to hire staff from farther away. Samaritan had already been investigating this approach for a few years, but recent advances in the technological infrastructure and processes allowed the hiring of new staff members who work remotely from across the country—a first for Samaritan Ministries.
- Share amounts. In the summer, Samaritan had a significant decrease in medical needs submitted to the office for sharing by the members. Health care predictions indicated that the ministry would see a corresponding surge in new Needs a few months later, but so far that surge has not come. In fact, there was a $26 million decrease between May and December. Recently there has been more share money available than needed, so, in a move rare in health care, the amount members were assigned to send to members with needs was actually reduced for the months of December and January.
- Public Policy. Health care sharing ministries faced increased public policy and regulatory scrutiny throughout 2020, so Samaritan rejoined the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries to better meet these challenges. Pittenger said Samaritan anticipates that unfriendly legislation may be proposed in several states in 2021. He said that much of the discomfort regulators have expressed toward health care sharing ministries is because of concerns stirred up by a handful of organizations that have not been operating by the same standards of transparency and ethics as ministries like Samaritan. The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries is working on an accreditation process for ministries that would help identify and protect the ministries that are following best practices and taking good care of their members. Samaritan endeavors to lead by example in the health care sharing world, and their example can be reviewed in Samaritan’s Best Practices.
“As we enter 2021,” continued Pittenger, “we can walk with confidence because ‘Your [God’s] faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast’ (Psalms 119:90). Let us not live in fear of the days ahead, but instead let us seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. May we all keep our eyes on Him as we strive to love and serve one another.”
Samaritan Ministries helps more than 270,000 individuals from over 85,000 households receive prayers and encouragement from one another while also receiving more fair pricing for their medical treatments.
Through Samaritan’s effective, God-honoring ministry, thisgrowing biblical community shares approximately $30 million in medical needs person to person each month. Over the past 26 years, Samaritan Ministries members have shared more than $2.3 billion in needs while praying for and encouraging one another with personal notes, cards and letters.
To interview a representative from Samaritan Ministries International, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Marjorie Pratt, 610.584.1096, ext. 107, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.