For many on the mission field, health insurance is unavailable, too complex or too costly compared to affordable, flexible health care sharing
March 14, 2022
PEORIA, Ill. — Before heading overseas, most missionaries shop around for health insurance, but often insurance companies are unwilling to work with them or the policies they offer are too expensive for a missionary’s available support.
That’s where the health care sharing approach of Samaritan Ministries can help.
“As fellow members of the Body of Christ, we do our best to facilitate the work of missionaries,” says Anthony Hopp, chief purpose officer of Samaritan Ministries International. “One of the most rewarding aspects of our own mission is knowing that we not only aid fellow Christians by helping them better afford health care, but we are also helping to advance the Gospel around the world.”
Before leaving America for mission work in Portugal and Africa, Nathan Holland looked for health insurance. Some companies wouldn’t guarantee coverage for treatment on U.S. soil, while others wouldn’t cover treatments in Africa. Plus, customer service representatives seemed evasive.
“I had heard of Samaritan Ministries several times from a number of former missionaries and ministers in Little Rock (Arkansas) who recommended it, so I gave them a call,” Nathan said. “I was able to talk to someone who had once been a missionary himself. He really seemed to care about me and was excited to hear about what I was doing. He was not concerned about networks of doctors that don’t exist in Angola and he said that I am in the best position to make the right decision about which doctor I see, even if that means flying or evacuating to another country to get adequate health care.”
During a trip to the states to visit family, Nathan had a bad reaction to malaria medication.
“The emergency room checked me into the hospital and managed to rack up almost $30,000 worth of medical expenses,” he said. “They claimed [it was] because I lived in Africa. Because I was self-pay, they cut my bill down to about $10,000 and Samaritan Ministries members shared all of it for me. I have been very satisfied with Samaritan Ministries and often recommend it to others.”
Carlos and Lisa Sales lead Reaching the Hungry, which aids indigenous ministries around the world. They train pastors, install water wells, raise money for missionaries, start Bible studies, translate Scripture and provide many other services in several developing nations. The Sales have been members of Samaritan Ministries since 2009.
Samaritan Ministries was a good fit for the couple and their four children.
“The cost of health insurance is overwhelming and almost unattainable for a typical family,” Lisa stated. “Plus, we really wanted everything we were doing with our resources to be God-honoring, so the thought that we could be supporting other brothers and sisters through health care sharing and not helping an insurance company get rich—that was kind of a no-brainer for us.”
In every village where a new water well is dug, a film about Christ is shown. The Saleses say they have seen thousands come to faith in Christ. Those who have responded to the Gospel are organized into small groups for continued discipleship by the team.
The Saleses are grateful to God that over their years as Samaritan members, they have had few medical needs for other members to share in, freeing up money for other uses.
“Samaritan Ministries health care sharing allows missionaries to direct more of their funds to ministry efforts rather than health insurance expenses,” Hopp says. “Supporters would rather have their donations go to helping people in real ways instead of being used for insurance costs.”
Samaritan Ministries currently has a membership of 283,767 individuals from 85,450 households.
Unlike health insurance, Samaritan Ministries has no limited enrollment period. Government exchange-based health insurance requires signups to occur only during open enrollment periods unless one qualifies for a special enrollment period due to a “life event,” such as losing coverage, getting married, moving, or having a baby.
Samaritan Ministries health care sharingoffers several additional advantages:
- No network restrictions. When medical care is needed, Samaritan members choose the health care provider, hospital, and pharmacy that work best for them.
- The direct-sharing approach allows members to not only help fellow believers with their medical financial needs but to pray for and connect with them on a regular basis.
- Monthly shares are hundreds of dollars less per month than traditional insurance.
Samaritan Ministries gives people of Biblical faith an effective, Bible-driven health care community in which approximately $30 million in medical needs is shared person to person every month. Over the past 27 years, Samaritan Ministries members have shared more than $3 billion in needs while also praying for and encouraging fellow members through personal notes, cards and letters.