Who Are the 1 Million-Plus Members of Health Care Sharing Ministries?
Samaritan Ministries Members Appreciate Transparency, Health Freedom, Direct Sharing and Personal Connection with Fellow Believers
PEORIA, Ill.—When a small group banding together grows to more than 1 million, we should ask, “Why?”
In a short amount of time, membership in health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) has grown to more than 1 million. A quarter of a million of them are part of one of the leaders, Samaritan Ministries International, and many are curious about the appeal and impact of these organizations.
Growth of HCSM membership has accelerated rapidly since the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, as citizens seek relief from its oppressive, counterproductive regulations. According to recent news in Health Care Dive, membership in HCSMs stood at 140,000 four short years ago in 2014. Today, 104 HCSMs exist, with 97 Mennonite/Old German Baptist churches/associations and seven with open or modified open membership, according to the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, of which Samaritan Ministries is a member.
“People choose health care sharing ministries for a variety of reasons,” said Anthony Hopp, Samaritan’s vice president of external relations. “But many of our members tell us they choose Samaritan because of the mission that is deeply rooted in the Bible, the way Samaritan allows them to directly share, pray for and encourage their fellow members, and the tools provided that allow them to take control of their health care. For these reasons, more than 250,000 members have chosen Samaritan Ministries, and as awareness grows with members sharing their amazing and uplifting experiences, and with God’s hand guiding this ministry, continued growth is likely.”
For nearly a quarter of a century, Samaritan Ministries has been connecting members of the Body of Christ, providing a way for them all to “bear one another’s burdens,” as Galatians 6:2 instructs. Unlike most others, Samaritan does not pool members’ money and then distribute it. Samaritan members share directly with their fellow members by mailing a check or sending an electronic payment right to another family rather than to Samaritan headquarters. Samaritan members also pray for one another and send personal notes of encouragement while sharing $27 million in medical needs each month.
Billy and Kimberly, Samaritan members from Oklahoma, even enjoy speaking with Samaritan staff when they have a question or start the need submission process.
“Just knowing we had Samaritan, versus what we had in the past, was such a comfort,” they said. “Writing out the check each month is like a blessing—that we can support people rather than an insurance company.”
Michelle and Cory of Idaho added, “Samaritan Ministries has been a huge relief. It has been so easy to submit bills and receive prayers and the finances we need.”
Jolene of Montana said that she and her husband have been so impressed with the ease of working with Samaritan for their needs.
“God has given insight to the leaders of this ministry to truly bless His people,” Jolene said. “Our financial needs were met completely, and everyone we spoke with was friendly and helpful with our questions. We are thankful each month that we can bless others as we have also been blessed.”
Dale and Brenda of Washington state love getting notes and cards from their fellow Samaritan members.
“This week we got a photo in the mail of babies from a family we sent our share to,” they said. “It is such a different feel to send money this way—with joy—than how it feels to pay an insurance premium.”
Members of the medical profession are fans as well. For example, many doctors appreciate the freedom they have to treat and truly care for patients who are Samaritan members, since they don’t face the limitations of restrictions from third-party payers. Likewise, Health Care Dive also reported, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, which opposes the Affordable Care Act, mentioned HCSMs last year in a proposal to repeal and replace the ACA.
The affordable monthly household financial share for Samaritan’s 77,388 member households (251,741 individuals) has never exceeded $495 for a family of any size and is even less for couples and singles. Members are not bound to a network of doctors or health care providers, and they can rest assured that their financial shares are not used to pay for practices that dishonor God, such as abortion.
Samaritan Ministries offers two membership levels, Samaritan Classic and Samaritan Basic. Samaritan Basic offers a lower monthly share coupled with a higher initial unshared amount than Samaritan Classic. This gives both current 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.