Mid-July we took the plunge and signed up for Samaritan Ministries. We sent off our application and money and waited for that approval phone call to come. July 23rd our phone rang. As soon as we hung up with SM, we were back on the phone calling to cancel our health insurance.
If you have never heard of SM it is not health insurance. It’s a “biblical, non-insurance approach to health care needs”. Here’s what that means. Instead of sending our money off every month to a large company that most likely spends it on over employing incompetent employees and finding ways to weasel out of covering bills they are supposed to pay, we are now sending our money directly to different people each month to share their medical bills. (Can you tell I’ve had good experiences with insurance companies in the past 😉 )
Here’s the break down:
For our family of 4 (or your family of 3, 6, 9, 12, I didn’t see anywhere a limit on how many kids you could have, but don’t hold me to this) our monthly share is $405 (and that number won’t increase until all members, 33k+, vote to approve an increase.). Every month SM sends out a statement with where we will send our money that month. One month we might send $405 to Sally Jo in TX for her shoulder surgery. The next month we may send our $405 to Ramon in MN for his broken foot. Each month we send our money to another member in need to help share the burden of their medical costs. We know exactly where our money is going and exactly how it is helping other people. We can include letters of encouragement and pray for people all over the country that we’ve never even met. Can your insurance do that?
Doctor bills under $300 are your responsibility, but for sharable needs over $300, members across the country send their monthly share to help you pay those bills. You are responsible for the first $300 of a sharable need, but if you have more than three sharable needs in a 12 month period, the $300 is also shared for all needs after, making it a total of $900 maximum out of pocket for the year.
If your bill was $700 with no discounts, then you would be responsible for the first $300 and SM would share the remaining $400. On the contrary, if your bill was $700, but you received a discount of $300 from your medical provider, making your final bill $400, then SM considers the $300 discount as if you paid the first $300 and shares the whole $400 balance with members even though you didn’t technically pay the additional $300 out of your pocket. I hope that makes sense the way I wrote it.
Another pro of this model of health care sharing is that when you have doctor appointment you are considered self pay. If you’ve never been self pay at a doctor appointment before, it’s pretty amazing. Not only do you know exactly how much your appointment is going to cost before your appointment, (how many times have you been told that they don’t know exactly how much your appointment will cost until it goes through insurance, but it will be roughly anywhere between $200 and $10,000?) but you get a self pay discount.
Example: I was making an appointment to have an ultrasound at a hospital a few years ago and I asked for a price quote. I was told it would be anywhere from $800 – $1,100. I choked and then said, “for self-pay?”, “oh no, you receive a 75% discount for self pay”. You know how much I actually paid when I went in, $125. Seems hospitals like not having to go through insurance either. Hello less staff, less paperwork, less headaches.
Now granted hospitals are typically much higher in the discount giving department. Most doctor offices are in the 10-25% range. But with this model, we get to shop around and pick who we want to use. We don’t have to settle for a doctor we might not like as much only because he accepts our insurance and the other doctor doesn’t.
We have a couple friends who have been using SM and rave about how the process is easy and they can’t imagine ever having to use traditional insurance again. They are who introduced us to this company and why we are now members.
Speaking of friends referring friends, they also have a pretty awesome referral bonus. If you sign up and list us as who referred you, we will get a large credit on our account after you are a member for 3 months. So make sure to tell them we sent you. 😉
These are just the highlights too. We’re excited to be using them now! Check them out and see what you think.
Update 10/8/14: This month our “share” was reduced by 10% because more money was sent in then needs published last month. Now that for sure never happens with insurance!
Update 12/12/14: Our monthly shares were reduced in November and December too. Amazing!