Freedom to choose best care can also lead to substantial savings
September 13, 2022
PEORIA, Ill. — Armed with cost-saving tools, members of Samaritan Ministries International (Samaritan, samaritanministries.org) are savings thousands of dollars a year shopping around for their health care needs.
Debbie and Bill Wieder of northern California saved more than $50,000 on a heart procedure for Bill in 2020. After being told that they would be charged $60,000 by an in-state facility, they used Healthcare Bluebook — along with help from Samaritan’s staff — to find another doctor and hospital in nearby Reno, Nevada. The physician and facility asked for only $10,000 up front and discounted the bill to $20,000. After more discounts, the total came to $9,000, which was then shared by Samaritan Ministries members.
“It was only a three-hour drive away, and we gladly made the trip to save members thousands of dollars,” Debbie said. “We called the hospital three times to confirm that we had heard them correctly, we were so shocked by the huge savings.”
“This is how Christians work together to make high quality health care affordable,” said Anthony Hopp, chief purpose officer of Samaritan Ministries International (Samaritan, samaritanministries.org). “Our members look out for each other in many ways, from shopping around for the best health care options to keep costs down, to making referrals and encouraging each other with prayers, cards and letters.”
Since January 2021, every hospital in the United States has been required to provide clear, accessible pricing information online about items and services they provide in two ways:
- As a comprehensive, machine-readable file with all items and services.
- In a display of shoppable services in a consumer-friendly format.
“Federally mandated transparency makes it easier than ever to benefit from health care sharing,” Hopp commented. “Our members can see for themselves what hospitals charge. Because they are not confined to a network, they can choose what’s best for their families.”
Jennifer Lawmaster saved more than $10,000 on her knee surgery by traveling a few hours from her Missouri home to the Surgical Center of Oklahoma in Oklahoma City (SCO). The facility is known for its price transparency and bundled pricing.
Jennifer learned about SCO from a Samaritan Ministries email when she submitted her need for a knee injury. The Lawmasters used Healthcare Bluebook to help arrange prepayment, and Samaritan staff called the family several times to make sure things were moving ahead as planned.
The experience taught her that shopping for health care services pays off “even within the same facility,” according to Jennifer. She got an MRI for $500 at a small local office within a hospital system, instead of paying $2,000 at the main hospital.
“Call places you wouldn’t think of calling,” she advised. “A privately owned neurology clinic in a nearby town offered to perform an MRI on my knee. They have the equipment and were willing to do the work even though it wasn’t their specialty.
“We felt being a good steward of God’s money entrusted to Samaritan members was the right thing to do. And everyone at Samaritan, Healthcare Bluebook, and Surgery Center of Oklahoma made it as hassle-free as they possibly could.”
Samaritan 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.
Samaritan has a membership of 281,602 individuals from 83,361 households.
Samaritan 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 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 insurance.