Five Ways Samaritan Ministries’ Health Care Sharing Transforms Health Care
Shared Faith, Direct Sharing, Nonprofit Charity, Member-Led and a Biblical Mission Commitment Set Samaritan Ministries Apart
PEORIA, Ill.—As more Americans learn about health care sharing, and as more organizations provide varied approaches to this type of health care, Samaritan Ministries International (samaritanministries.org), one of the leading health care sharing ministries in America, has several distinctives that have helped the ministry stay true to its mission for 25 years.
Samaritan Ministries recently shared with its 270,000 individual members in its monthly newsletter how being different is good.
“About the same time Samaritan Ministries was starting up 25 years ago, Arby’s ran an ad campaign with this tagline: ‘Arby’s is different. Different is good,’” according to the September newsletter story. “The idea was that you could go a lot of places to get a hamburger, but if you are looking for something different, come to Arby’s for some roast beef. We hope Samaritan Ministries members will convey the sentiment: ‘Samaritan is different. Different is good.’”
Anthony Hopp, Samaritan’s vice president of external relations, said that Samaritan didn’t want to be just another health care “hamburger joint.”
“We want to offer innovative, Christ-honoring service that leads the way in establishing health care sharing best practices and impacts our health care system for the glory of God,” Hopp said. “By God’s grace, we are committed to continuing to honor Jesus Christ, remain faithful to the Scriptures and advance God’s kingdom in all aspects of ministry. That goes for every interaction with members, staff, partners and providers, and also the way we tell the world about Samaritan.
“This commitment means that at times we will intentionally choose different approaches from other health care sharing organizations when they use practices that we believe undermine Christian values,” Hopp added. “It also means that we’re different from insurance, as we have different operating philosophies based on different worldviews. This choice to be different is not dependent on a claim that insurance is inferior to health care sharing, as we are grateful for the many ways God uses insurance to care for people! However, we are claiming that as Christians our shared faith in Jesus Christ is to be woven throughout every aspect of our lives, including our participation in Christian community within health care. That’s what Samaritan Ministries is all about.”
Because of these philosophical differences, five distinctives set Samaritan Ministries apart:
- An Expression of Shared Faith: Samaritan’s membership agreement makes it clear it is a community of Christians helping other Christians. The ministry doesn’t pay for anything, but members commit to faithfully share with one another based on their religious convictions and according to the ministry Guidelines. And, since shared faith includes God providing for needs through his people, Samaritan never forces members to apply for government welfare programs rather than share a need.
- Direct Sharing from One Christian to Another: As a community of Christians, Samaritan members send shares directly to one another and pay their own medical bills rather than send shares to an organization to administer. A small part of the shares comes to the organization for administrative costs. Along with these direct financial shares, members also send personal notes and cards of encouragement and commit to pray for their fellow members.
- Non-Profit Charity: Samaritan is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) religious charity administering a sharing ministry subject to state and federal laws that govern charities. The federal Affordable Care Act, as well as 30 state safe harbor provisions in their insurance codes, recognize that health care sharing is not insurance.
- Member-Led: Samaritan is overseen by a member-led Board of Directors, a majority of which is elected by members, with an annual independent audit and annual report available to all members.
- Commitment to Mission: For 25 years, Samaritan Ministries has operated under the acknowledgment that health care needs are multi-dimensional—emotional and spiritual, as much as physical and financial. Samaritan has the mission to coordinate and connect members to care for the whole need with prayer, encouragement and financial support. Galatians 6:2—“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (ESV)—has remained at Samaritan Ministries’ core.
“Based on these distinctives,” Hopp said, “many conclude that this health care sharing model is something that resonates with them and is consistent with their Christian convictions. Different is good!”
Recognizing Samaritan’s key differences is also important in light of recent negative headlines about some health care sharing organizations that operate differently from Samaritan Ministries.
Samaritan’s more than a quarter of a million individual members (more than 82,000 member households) send monthly financial shares directly to other members, along with notes and cards of encouragement. Through this effective, God-honoring ministry, Samaritan’s growing Biblical community shares approximately $29 million in medical needs person-to-person each month. In fact, Samaritan Ministries members have shared $1.8 billion in needs over its 25 years.