This is our second-most popular blog post ever. No surprise, really. People are looking for alternatives. We wrote this post before we racked up nearly $200,000 in bills from three medical emergencies in the past year. The first two have been reimbursed 100%, and the third is in process. Samaritan still comes with our highest recommendation.
Health insurance costs are at an all-time high, and being self-employed is definitely a challenge for us in this regard. Being employed full-time for years, we took health insurance for granted. After becoming self-employed, our views since then have changed considerably.
We now are happy members of an innovative gathering of Christian folks at Samaritan Ministries. The concept, we believe, returns to the fundamental idea of what insurance used to be, a group of people paying premiums for two purposes:
- to insure themselves from large medical expenses
- to assist others from large medical expenses
Most health insurance options aren’t that way anymore. Folks on health insurance often see their insurance as “free medical care,” and such views are quite common. Unfortunately, when this common view is carried out, it exhausts the entire system and costs go up for everyone. When so many are trying to get the most out of their insurance, premiums sky rocket. This isn’t stellar economics; it makes perfect sense that this happens.
Samaritan is different. When we have a medical expense, we pay cash for it. This often results in 40-50% off the sticker price of medical care (interesting…another problem with the health care industry…bloated prices). We then submit the claim to Samaritan, and we receive checks from others who have joined the cooperative.
We, in turn, regularly give to people on our list. We are required to send one big check every month. We are also sent a prayer list for published needs in a monthly newsletter. We sometimes send checks to people in need based on the published needs. We have also received checks from people who have read of our medical needs. This builds the sense of community among everyone involved.
We love this community. Some cynics have doubted whether such a system could work, that eventually the system would be taken advantage. We suppose some abuse does penetrate the system, but we have yet to witness it. God has been faithful in the development of this network. The folks at Samaritan do a great job monitoring the network and weeding out those who are attempting to soak its resources. It is all very good.
Sure, we have to pay cash for our medical expenses rather than paying a co-payment, but we have found this to be a most liberating method of fulfilling our medical needs. Visit www.samaritanministries.org/works for more information on the nuts-and-bolts of how it works. And mention the Jeubs referred you!
UPDATE: 2011-2012 has been a real test to Samaritan Ministry’s sustainability. We submitted over $200k in medical bills between three emergencies: (1) our son’s fist fight with a table saw, (2) Chris’ myocarditis, and (3) Wendy’s throat tumor. Samaritan has come through beyond all expectations. We’ll keep posting on this wonderful network of good people, like this one: How We Cover Our Medical Bills Every Time.