Health Care Sharing Is Not Insurance
Samaritan Ministries Shows the Difference Between Insurance and the God-Honoring, Direct-Sharing Way Many Christians Are Doing Health Care
PEORIA, Ill.—As more and more Americans learn about health care sharing—and join the 1 million-plus people who are already part of a health care sharing ministry (HCSM)—they discover important distinctions between the health insurance model many are used to and this completely different way of dealing with health care needs.
The nearly 80,000 member households (more than 258,000 individuals) of Samaritan Ministries International (samaritanministries.org), one of the leading health care sharing ministries in America, know just how different health care sharing is from insurance—and these members appreciate this direct-sharing, effective, affordable and God-honoring model of health care that allows them to not only help fellow believers with their medical financial needs, but also with prayer and personal notes and cards of encouragement.
Each month, Samaritan’s growing Biblical community shares approximately $27 million in medical needs person-to-person. In fact, from 2007 through 2017, Samaritan Ministries members shared $1.2 billion in health care needs. Yet the monthly share has never exceeded $495 for a family of any size and is even less for two-person and single-person households.
“Samaritan Ministries emphatically states that health care sharing is not health insurance,” said Anthony Hopp, vice president of external relations for Samaritan Ministries. “And many of our members choose health care sharing for that very reason. While confusion between insurance and health care sharing exists among potential members, the media, medical professionals and even insurance industry insiders, Samaritan Ministries and some of our health care sharing counterparts go out of our way to communicate that we are not insurance. As millions of dollars in medical needs are shared among Samaritan’s quarter of a million members, they are fully aware that being part of a health care sharing ministry does not guarantee their needs will be met. That being said, for 23 years, our members have been overjoyed to find that their needs are not only met financially, but spiritually and emotionally as well. That in itself is a huge differentiator from insurance.”
Samaritan members also experience much more health freedom, control and transparency than they would under insurance. Members are not bound by networks and are free from insurance companies steering them toward approved doctors, choosing a hospital or clinic, dictating costs and even having a say in the method of care.
Health care sharing costs, especially with Samaritan, also remain more affordable because members are free to seek out their own providers, many of whom offer discounts for self-pay patients. These doctors are also happy to work directly with patients, free from the intrusion of third parties, health plans and government bureaucracy.
Samaritan Ministries does not use insurance agents or brokers, a further difference from insurance. HCSMs are regulated as non-profit organizations by each state’s attorney general, not by insurance regulations, because they are not practicing the business of insurance. Their continued growth in membership and high retention rate is evidence of the satisfaction of their members, answering the skepticism of those who defend the status quo.
Laura, a Samaritan Ministries member from Missouri, perhaps says it best.
“No, it’s not insurance. It’s health care. It’s Galatians 6:2 in action. I am convinced that [our daughter’s] amazing recovery has not just been her hard work, but also all the prayers and the fact that we never had to wait for approval from an insurance company to follow doctors’ orders. We couldn’t be more thankful and blessed!”
Samaritan Ministries offers two membership levels, Samaritan Classic and Samaritan Basic. Samaritan Basic has a lower monthly share coupled with a higher initial unshared amount than Samaritan Classic. This gives both present and future members two options for choosing what they believe is best for their families—and their budgets. Monthly shares for Samaritan Basic start as low as $100 for one person, $200 for two people and $250 for a family of any size, depending on age. Some guidelines differ between Samaritan Basic and Samaritan Classic; contact Samaritan Ministries for details or visit this link.