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What it Was Like to Submit a Samaritan Ministries Medical Need

Healthcare worker

Changing vocabulary you’ve used your entire adult life isn’t easy.

Suddenly an “insurance claim” becomes a “sharing need” and a “deductible” becomes the “initial unshareable amount” — and instead of hassling with insurance codes and red tape, I get to follow some simple steps and deal with real people on the phone (who are helpful – oh my goodness, genuine customer service is not dead!!!) who help me get paid for my medical bills.

Some change is good – and we’ve found that healthcare sharing as members of Samaritan Ministries since 2015, is very, very good.

Over the years thousands of people have utilized our comparison of the 8 major healthcare sharing plans as a valuable reference guide, and it’s one of the posts I get the most emails about.

The question top on people’s minds?

Have you submitted a need? What is it like? Was the process smooth?

Every time I have to answer this question and admit that actually we haven’t, which kind of says that I don’t know how the whole system works, I feel a little guilty. For my audience’s sake, I need to have tested the whole process. At the same time, I’m incredibly grateful that my family has been so healthy for quite a few years and hasn’t needed to submit a need for an accident or illness that cost us more than $300. Note: In September, 2020, Samaritan changed that initial unshared amount to $400.

Now, to be fair, I’ve spent more than $300 per issue tracking down my own health needs. I know because I was pursuing this process outside of conventional medicine by working with a functional coach that regular insurance would never have paid for it. I never even looked up if Samaritan would — although I think they might have, for some pieces of it like the lab testing.

It’s an entirely different process of thinking when you’re a member of a healthcare sharing ministry. I know that other real people will be sending me checks and paying for my medical bills. So anytime I have a potential need, I think about whether it’s fair or equitable that I ask for others to pay for it.

If I can afford it myself without any hardship, should I just do that and move on and use the healthcare sharing ministry only for major issues?

Being part of Samaritan Ministries even has changed the way I make decisions about pursuing healthcare. When my 7-year-old had a horrible cough last year that I was sure was croup, I hesitated to take him to the ER just because I wanted to make sure I didn’t create extraneous medical bills.

I think many people on insurance would have taken their child to our local children’s hospital, which has an excellent reputation. That would have racked up a bill over $300 in seconds.

But I cautiously went to the last open urgent care in town to make sure that I didn’t spend more was needed. The poor child didn’t need much to get him back to health, and we did not even have to pay more than $300, which meant that it wasn’t a need that could be shared for others to pay for me.

Those kinds of decisions happen regularly. I feel that if we had regular health insurance, where a lot of the expenses are more hidden and unconsidered, we would have spent a lot more money on healthcare over the last four years.

After the umpteenth time of being asked what it’s like to actually submit a need, however, I decided that literally for the sake of my readers and people depending on me at Kitchen Stewardship®, I needed to submit a need to see how it went.

We could pay for these medical conditions ourselves, but I honestly wanted to know what it would be like.

How complicated is it? How annoying? How many places along the way can you make mistakes and cause problems?

Submitting a Health Sharing Need Compared to an Insurance Claim

I still remember insurance.

I still remember hours upon hours spent on the phone with Blue Cross representatives trying to get my prenatal care paid for with our fourth child.

I used a midwife and had most of our appointments in the home. At the beginning of the pregnancy, I was told that they should be covered, at least partially (and by partially I mean more than half for the prenatal appointments). I fully understood going in that the actual birth would not be covered, because we had him at home, but I was very pleased to know that all these prenatal appointments would at least come back to me 50% or more.

newborn baby in Daddy's arms

I’m pretty sure I spent at least 12-20 hours tracking this down and never saw a penny. I was juggling codes and numbers and red tape and regulations and representatives who said a different thing every time I called.

My poor midwife also spent quite a few hours doing paperwork and sending off strings of digits by mail, by email, and over the phone, constantly. What a waste of time!

On the other hand, submitting a need to Samaritan Ministries has four simple steps, and the only numbers that I really needed to make sure I could track down were things like the date of service and the phone number of the provider.

I know not every insurance claim is a hot mess like my pregnancy.

I know often, a family walks into the doctor, nods their head that nothing has changed in their insurance information since their last visit, and walks out without thinking a second thought about how that medical care is being paid for.

The family might get a small bill for the deductible in the mail, pays it, and moves on with their lives.

But when I think about my experience with my prenatal care, I wondered if it would even be possible for a Samaritan need to be more complicated and more of a pain than that.

Who Is a Good Fit For Healthcare Sharing?

To digress just slightly before we get too far, I want to address what kind of family or business person should use a healthcare sharing ministry or program (since we have some new ones that aren’t faith-based). In my experience, health sharing is perfect for these groups of people.

  • Entrepreneurs/small business people – health sharing is always less expensive than group insurance
  • Anyone who pays over about $7-800/month through their work for insurance, including any deductibles and OOP costs – with Samaritan, our family pays just over $500/month to be members plus we pay for all our own routine checkups, which average out to just over $700/month
  • Young adults without great insurance – the single young adult plan is very inexpensive!
  • Families who utilize functional or alternative treatments often – some of these will even be covered under Samaritan!
  • Those tired of red tape

These are the major options:

You can see more about all of these options, how they work and what they cost over at my comprehensive healthcare sharing review.

Steps to Submit a Samaritan Ministries Need

I admit I was a little nervous submitting my first request. I hate learning new things and always want to be efficient with my limited time.

Even with my aversion to new tasks, I was amazed at how easy it was (and Samaritan even created 1-to-2-minute videos to explain each step in case I needed a visual).

It was truly painless, and this is how quick and easy it was:

  1. Submit your need request to be reviewed by a Needs Advocate.
  2. Input all your itemized bills in the online dashboard.
  3. Wait for checks or payments to come in from other members.
  4. Check them off in the dashboard.
New need tasklist

It took me a total of probably 90-120 minutes over four or five sessions working on it and two phone calls. Now that I’ve seen how the process works, I would guess a future need would take about half an hour, total.

Here’s how each step felt:

Step 1: Submit the Need Request

This is a very quick step in which I had to explain what the problem was. What was the accident or illness that caused these medical bills to happen?

Someone at Samaritan Ministries called a Needs Advocate must approve our request. Basically, this means they’re going to check the member guidelines and make sure that our request isn’t for something like dental work or a pre-existing condition that is not allowed to be shared.

It was a very quick turnaround from my submission to being approved, and then I could begin the rest of the process.

Step 2: Input Itemized Bills

Bill entry page on Samaritan Ministries

I’m guessing this used to be a little bit more of a pain before the Internet was so robust. But with cell phone cameras and an online dashboard, it was so easy even I didn’t get aggravated trying to get it done (and that’s saying something – I may be Christian but patience is a virtue I am still working on!).

I had all my bills in the same folder anyway, so all I had to do was snap a quick picture with my phone, send that to my computer, and drag it over into the dashboard.

I did have one bill that was a little too simple and didn’t quite itemize exactly what had happened with each line item having a specific cost.

I had to make a call to that doctor’s office during business hours (which took about seven minutes including being on hold), watch the mail for a week, open an envelope, and snap a picture of that new bill and upload it. This was shockingly simple.

That’s the part where I will save a lot of time next time because now that I understand what an itemized bill looks like, I ask for it right up front.

Provider rating on Samaritan Ministries

I did run into one tiny roadblock in that once I had all the bills submitted, one of them was actually denied. It was one that I had submitted with a questionable attitude, a little unsure if it would go through.

We are fortunate enough to have a direct primary care office in our town, which means that we basically pay a monthly subscription for our regular family doctor visits. Everything there is incredibly discounted and most of it is included in our monthly cost. However, there are some labs that we still have to pay for.

For this issue we were digging into for my husband, he racked up a $400 charge one day measuring blood levels. This was the bill that was denied, so I did have to call Samaritan Ministries customer service, where a very helpful English-as-a-first-language speaker took a look at my account.

At first, he said there was no date on the bill, and that that was why it was denied. And then he looked more closely and said, “Oh, my goodness, it’s actually right here. I think this was just an error on our end.” He approved it while I was on the phone, and life went on.

How Discounts Work at Samaritan

The best part about that particular bill, as well as the one I had to get on the phone and have sent to our house, was that both demonstrated that we had discounted medical care.

The way Samaritan Ministries works is that for each need submitted for sharing, the family needs to pay the first $300. However, there’s this wonderful clause that if any discounts are obtained in the amount of $300 or more, that first $300 is not the family’s responsibility. These numbers have changed since this post was written, see the note below.

Because I could show on my direct primary care bill that we had discounts as members to the tune of about $200, that was $200 less that we would have to pay out of pocket.

Bill amount entry on Samaritan Ministries

The bill above was from a specialist. I called to see if our hospital had cash-only discounts and got that $69 taken off.

That doesn’t seem like much, but that’s someone’s food bill for the week, perhaps. Worth a quick phone call!

The last bill was for an MRI. Our primary physician helped us find an office about two hours away, where instead of paying around $3,000 in our hometown, we only paid $570.

Update: As of September, 2020, the minimum sharable amount is now $400 and the reduction for discounts has been changed to a $250 credit for getting the best “fair price” using Samaritan’s tool. Why? So many medical providers charge more than necessary, and sometimes even a 50% discount doesn’t get a procedure down to the price one could get across town or a few hour drive away. Samaritan wants to encourage members to get the BEST price, not just a discount. 

Because that discount was not exactly shown on the bill — the bill was just lower than it would have been in our hometown — I expected to have to make some calls and explain that fully. But whatever I typed in online just worked!

You can see in this image that the blue bar shows our discounts, which are significant and well above the sharing threshold line, which is $300.

Bill progress on Samaritan Ministries

Without any trouble at all, our entire expense is covered by our fellow member families at Samaritan.

In the insurance world, this would be like having no “out of pocket” expense, which is incredibly rare in this day and age, is it not?

Step 2b: Rate the Provider

This little step was a big surprise to me — I was asked to rate each provider!

Provider rating on Samaritan Ministries

I’m not actually sure what Samaritan does with the information, but I imagine they could create a very good database of helpful vs. unhelpful providers over time!

Health Sharing Referral Discounts

If you find it helpful and end up signing up for Samaritan Ministries, please mention us as your referral: Kristopher & Kathryn Kimball, Michigan. We’ll get a credit on our share (and you can do the same by passing on the news to others).

Step 3: Wait for checks

The first part of the process was far easier and took far less time than I expected, and then I completely put it out of my mind.

When I got an envelope in the mail with a personal return address I didn’t recognize, my curiosity was piqued. Who is sending us real snail mail that’s not a bill or an advertisement?

When I opened it, I quickly realized that it was our first check to cover this need. Quite a pleasant surprise!

In all, we will get two checks in the mail and one payment from what I can understand. We are still waiting for the final check, but I just finished this process about four to six weeks ago.

Step 4: Record the Checks in the Samaritan Dashboard

All I had to do at this point was log in, open the needs section of my dashboard, and literally check a box for a check received.

There’s one more checkbox about whether a note of encouragement was with the check.

This was part of the Samaritan process that I hesitated about before we signed on back in January of 2015. As a community of faith, members are requested to send a note of encouragement and pray for the person to whom they’re sending their share. I always felt like that would be one more thing on the list.

But in general since then I’ve embraced it, because who doesn’t need a little more prayer?

I was surprised to find that this personally addressed envelope actually just contained a check, no card, and no note. So I wonder how many people skip that step!

Honestly, it’s okay, it’s not a big deal. It makes me feel a little better for the months where I’m lazy and don’t write much.

I try to pay through PayPal as much as possible now because even though it’s less personal, it’s also less of a drain on my resources of time. But I always write a little note!

The person who paid me through PayPal also did, and it does feel very encouraging and heartwarming, I must say.

Health Sharing Need Submission vs. Insurance Claim

Just for fun, let’s compare this to my recent experience of trying to get a few chiropractor bills paid for through our vehicle insurance after getting into a small car accident back on New Year’s Eve, almost a year ago.

I have a pile of paper a half-inch thick; countless phone calls to try to figure out what process I needed to go through to get a few hundred dollars paid for; and a grumpy chiropractor who didn’t really want to submit all the special codes, because he has had too many experiences where he does some work and his patient does not get any money from the insurance company anyway.

I was on the phone a couple times with Felicia, my very pleasant and helpful account manager. The forms to fill out took a good 10+ minutes each (there were four of us who received treatment).

That story does happen to have a happy ending when a few checks finally showed up in the mail, but the process took nine months in total, including at least two months between finally finishing all of the red tape requirements and getting those checks.

So far, this process has been much more smooth with Samaritan Ministries.

What Can Go Wrong with a Healthcare Sharing Ministry?

Now to be fair, I’m still waiting on just over $500 to fulfill this need. If that member has a glitch, and I end up not getting paid and have to chase down $500, of course, I won’t be happy. Updated to add that the last payment came in right on time, as promised, via

I have heard from many other Samaritan members in the comments of my healthcare sharing ministry comparison post.

Lots of them have wonderful experiences. But every so often someone will share with me either in the comments or by email a negative experience that they’ve had.

For example, I recently heard from someone who had about $50,000 of medical bills from a car accident. They actually had to open a credit card just to cover them, because they didn’t have that kind of money in the bank. By the way, you are a better fit for a health sharing ministry if you can cover $50-$100,000 without having to take out a credit card. Nonetheless, this is a workable situation.

Unfortunately for this family, it took quite a long time for all the shares to come in, and they had to pay interest on that credit card debt, which was certainly not ideal.

This commenter claims that about $3,000 of the need was never covered, and once a full year has passed, apparently, Samaritan won’t help anymore. This was absolutely shocking to me because it’s the first time I’ve heard of something that was an approved need not being fully paid for, but I guess it happens, and there’s no litigious resource for you to get that money back.

So there is certainly some risk, and we’re depending upon the honesty of other members.

According to Samaritan guidelines, if a member did not send their check to you, that amount will be reassigned in the following month to a current active member. So not getting paid shouldn’t really happen, and I’m not sure what went wrong with this particular member, but I definitely feel sorry for him. Somewhere some human error took place is my guess!

Some have also commented that getting discounts is more difficult than Samaritan Ministries makes it sound at first. This may be true, but it’s only a $300 risk, even if you can’t get a discount. So that’s definitely something you need to be ready for if you sign on with a healthcare sharing ministry.

As you can see above, I had no problem mitigating the $300, but my large discounts were unconventional expenses. The “regular” specialist only discounted $69, although that could add up over just a few appointments! Note: If this need had taken place after the new policies in September, 2020, I’m guessing we got the best fair price. 

How to Submit a Samaritan Ministries Medical Need

The final issue that many people write to me about is unshareable needs. You definitely need to read every word in the member guidelines before you sign on to something like Samaritan Ministries.

For example, if you ride a motorcycle, motorcycle accidents will not be covered. Psychiatric and psychological help is also not covered. (That’s one that irks me because I do believe mental health is just as important as physical health, but nonetheless, it’s in the guidelines.)

Pre-existing conditions, vision, dental work, and a few other categories sometimes pop up and surprise people. But if you’ve read the guidelines, you should know what you’re getting into.

Basically, because Samaritan Ministries knows that other people will be paying for your care, they reduce the risk of your having large, sharable medical bills by excluding both pre-existing conditions and what they see as overly risky situations.

In other words, if you as a person are taking a risk like a motorcycle or making a bad decision like drinking too much or having sex outside of marriage (which goes against Christian morality), medical problems that result from those decisions are your responsibility, not your faith community’s. For everything other than the mental health issue, that makes sense to me.

I love what one reader shared in the comments of my other post as people discussed their fears about what might go wrong if they chose health sharing over insurance:

“At the end of the day, was I trusting Aetna, BlueCross, United Health, Samaritan, MediShare, CHM, etc, or was I going to trust the Lord to provide and care for me via any means He chose? That ‘what if’ fear loves to creep up and strangle me. It’s in God we rest; not insurance and not healthcare sharing.”

Common Vocabulary for Samaritan Ministries Health Sharing:

Have I used any words in this description that you weren’t quite sure how to interpret?

As I mentioned in the intro, there’s definitely a new vocabulary to learn, but it’s not too complicated.

Here are a few words and definitions that may help you understand what I’m talking about when it comes to healthcare sharing:

  • Need – The money a family has spent on a valid medical bill (like a “claim” in insurance-speak). One need is every medical bill related to the same incident or illness, which may include many doctor’s appointments, procedures, labs, etc.
  • Share – What you pay each month (or the verb in “share a need” which is like “submitting a claim” in insurance-speak)
  • Initial Unshareable Amount – With Samaritan, the family needs to pay the first $400 of any need. As I explained above, this amount is reduced with any discounts obtained, and often many people get it reduced to zero, as I did.
  • Note of Encouragement – Members are requested but not required to send a nice card or note of encouragement with their payment for the share that month.
  • Member – Any family who is consistently paying their monthly membership in Samaritan, which means that their money is covering someone else’s medical need.
  • Maximum Amount – Samaritan does have a ceiling for how high your bills can get for one shareable need. For our membership, which is called Samaritan classic, that threshold is $250,000. If we have a catastrophic event that costs more than that in medical bills, needs shared will be capped at a quarter-million dollars.
  • Save to Share Program – Because of that maximum shareable amount, our family has chosen to be part of the save to share program. We pay a little extra each month. The Save to Share program basically eliminates the limit on medical bills. If something catastrophic happens, like an incredibly serious accident that causes someone to be in the hospital for many months or cancer, which is what I most often see on the Save to Share needs, the first $250,000 will be paid through the regular Samaritan sharing system. And the rest, without a real cap, will be covered by the Save to Share program participation. There’s no real limit, but if there are too many needs, it is true that you may not get paid for all your medical bills. From memory, I generally see about two or three Save to Share needs each month. They are generally the same from month to month, because these people with cancer continue to incur more medical bills.
  • Pre-existing Condition – A condition that existed prior to membership – BUT these are still shareable needs IF “the condition appears to be cured, and 12 months have passed without any symptoms (whether or not benign), treatment, or medication (even if the cause of the symptoms is unknown or misdiagnosed).” I think this is wonderful news for some with potential “pre-existing conditions” that are not a real issue anymore. My husband, for example, had Crohn’s Disease (a chronic autoimmune disorder) when we started with Samaritan, but because he wasn’t on medication, it didn’t count as pre-existing. He’s now completely healed, praise be to God! If a condition is active, it’s true that
  • Prorating – If the needs for a month are greater than the shares, Samaritan may “prorate” the need, meaning that a member might only get 80-90% of their needs met. The prorated amount that is unpaid will be brought forward to the next month, and usually, most needs are met fully. Members are also given an opportunity to give extra during prorated months. (If prorating happens more than 3 months in a row, a vote will be taken about raising monthly shares. This has happened twice in 5 years and passed both times, but it hasn’t been a massive increase in monthly cost for us.)

Final Thoughts: Was it Easy to Submit a Medical Need with Samaritan?

I think I’ve made it pretty clear in this post that I am over-the-moon impressed with how simple this process is. If I can do it, anyone can do it!

I’m sure that if my medical needs were in the many thousands of dollars, it would be a bit more orchestration to make sure all the checks were checked off in the dashboard. But still, this should be nothing that any normal person of average intelligence cannot handle. It’s far easier than insurance, it’s far easier than codes, and I really love the feeling of being taken care of by someone else out there in my faith community.

Since I started this process for my husband’s issue (which, by the way, is not a big deal…even though we are still figuring it out, it’s not life-threatening by any means so please don’t be concerned), you’ve seen in recent posts that two of my boys have very severe dust allergies, and you’ll read next month that we are starting allergy drops for these boys.

Allergy drops cost $70 per month per kid, and the process of being officially tested at the allergist was about $600. Ouch.

I called Samaritan to ask what might be covered, and it sounds like at least all that initial appointment and testing time can be shared along with 90 days of the drops (that applies to any prescription).

So right now I’m considering whether I submit that need or just determine to cover it ourselves.

Obviously, we will still be paying $70 a month for quite a long time, three to five years, so submitting this need would be a small assistance on the path that we have chosen to take.

At least I knew to ask for an itemized bill so I could be ready, and if we discern that I’m going to put “submit Samaritan need for boys’ dust allergies” on my to-do list, I won’t look at it with so much dread, since I know it’s a very easy process.

If you find it helpful and end up signing up for Samaritan Ministries, please mention us as your referral: Kristopher & Kathryn Kimball, Michigan. We’ll get a credit on our share (and you can do the same by passing on the news to others).
Have you submitted a need with Samaritan? Any advice from your experience?

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17 thoughts on “What it Was Like to Submit a Samaritan Ministries Medical Need”

  1. We have experienced it more than once, that some members don’t pay us the share owed to us. They wait another month, now it is up to 3 months (crazy amount of time, Jan 2024, for them to pay when it has already been a 1-2 months to “get shared” and another month waiting for payment from others). So, I may have my payments (more than one) from others, who do NOT pay for some reason (no money? leaving members who didn’t communicate, other?). So it could be 6 months, and then it will go to other “next in line” members to pick up this share, and hopefully they pay it right away. Normally, we have 100% pay on a need, but in the last year or two, we’ve been at 95% pay (surgeries) that have to wait for a “no payment”. We are talking over a thousand of “extra waiting” money, and this is not the first time we’ve had that (hard times upon us?). Tracking this stuff isn’t easy, their tooling doesn’t let you see (not easily) on what need to claim to payment it is for. Good system overall, but could use some help.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship®

      This is helpful feedback, thanks Matt! I have never had 2 concurrent open needs at once, so I didn’t realize that it was tricky to figure out which need was which. We just had a need in the latter half of 2023 again, and everything went incredibly smoothly. On the other hand, we have a good account ready for medical emergencies, so we’re not feeling a pinch if we do have to wait months for a repayment to that account, if that makes sense. I can see how for different families, those time delays would incur varying amounts of stress.

      Definitely something people should be READY for when using a health sharing ministry – that you may have to wait some time before the coffers refill, so to speak.
      Thanks again for taking the time to share your experience. Blessings, Katie

  2. This article is great, thanks for letting folks know how this works! We are now 8 years into our membership. Within the first year, I had a kidney infection and hospitalization on SM, and had no issues with processing that need, except the anxiety of wondering if my $15k bill would be paid (hospital discounted it to $5k, and yes it was). It was nice to pray on the phone with SM after the initial stress of the ER and being admitted to the hospital and stabilized.

    On another occasion, we had an experience that left a bad taste in our mouths. I will say, be careful about mentioning that you think your issue has anything to do with a malpractice case.

    Unless you want to start a lawsuit, don’t ask speak to their “legal team” (aka lawyer on retention plus a few SM workers). If that team hears of the slightest *hint* of medical malfeasance, they will decline to process your need, claiming you will get reimbursed through the legal process, and they need to think about saving the money of the members!! (As if your money saving’s suddenly don’t count! ) Suddenly you realize the lawyer is *their* lawyer, not just giving you free advice! I can tell you, at that point, “the body of Christ, caring for one another” feelings go far, far away. I don’t think we’ve ever truly recovered from the horrible feelings that engendered. (Our issue was that my daughter had a very small surgery on her toe to drain an infection, and the doctor used outdated pain medicine that did not work at all, and my daughter felt every slice! I just wanted advice on how to complain to the hospital—there was no long term damage and I doubt I could have gotten anything through the legal system. Plus, at the time, we were “income free” LOL due to my husband’s disability and living on savings, already suing for his long term disability, so the last thing we wanted was another lawsuit!!)

    When I asked to speak with the legal team for this charge (only $500), they claimed that I should *sue* the hospital and expect to get reimbursement, and that would be “unfair “ if Samaritan people had paid for it. They had to think about “saving the members’ money.” (What about our money that we paid EVERY month!! ) But in their view, the surgery should be paid for by a lawsuit. As we know most lawsuits are slow and uncertain, we declined. It was a big conflict but we eventually signed papers saying we weren’t going to sue but could repay the $500 if we ever did, by miraculous intervention, get repaid by the hospital. That was about 4 years ago, so maybe Samaritan is are more logically minded and flexible about such discussions. But at the time, that department felt very adversarial! Very unlike a typical call to SM.

    All that said, I think SM is still the best option, especially since in the last 8 years, we’ve developed some medical issues that would be “preexisting” if we go anywhere else. Also, the “special prayer need” option, for needs that don’t fit the guidelines, is unique. Members can give offerings/donations to help with others’ dental needs, preexisting conditions, and mental health treatment, etc. I mostly see pre-existing conditions come through. We submitted a bill for my husband’s pre-existing condition before we were able to have insurance for him and received about half the payment for that. So that was a nice treat since nothing was promised or expected.

    The main reason I’m writing—sigh, after all of that !!— is that the article now has some outdated info regarding the savings of the first $300. That was a very simple solution—if you could get at least $300 off the retail price, you didn’t owe that amount for your “initial unsharable amount.”

    Now, the amount is up to $400 (inflation), and you can only get $250 off if you “price quote” the service you need with the “Healthcare Blue Book” link they have that lets you collect quotes that are available supposedly in your area. Then you go with one of the providers who offers a “fair price“ through the service, or (I just learned) you use anyone someone else who matched the price and just screenshot the Blue Book price.

    I don’t think every type of need can even be quoted. I think it’s mainly for big stuff, like knee replacement (?). So I guess for most of mine, I won’t go that route. It’s hard enough to find a good provider without being hampered by extra hoops, but I suppose I could quote the service once I had a diagnosis and treatment from my chosen provider.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Thanks for sharing your experience with us and pointing out the outdated info!

  3. Our family has been members of SM since 2001. Our kids are grown and have left home so now it’s just my wife and me. Over the years we have had 5 needs – all of which have been reimbursed 100%.

    When we first started with Samaritan it was unusual for doctors to give self-pay discounts. But over the years it has become more common and in our experience, lately we have had absolutely no problem receiving self-pay discounts from physicians or facilities. In fact, when we say that we are self-pay, they almost always want us to apply for financial assistance. We insist that we are very capable of paying, but do want to receive a discount from the inflated published price. In fact, my wife just underwent a surgery and the facility discounted the cost by 80% and the physician by 60%.

    When we started with Samaritan in 2001, my health insurance had skyrocketed to over $1000 per month. There was no way our family could afford that cost. At that time, Samaritan Ministries’ monthly share cost for our family was right at $250. The $750 per month that we saved certainly covered all our health care costs. The monthly share has raised considerably over the years but nowhere near what health insurance has risen.

    Several years ago, I estimated the costs of health insurance vs Samaritan Ministries share costs + out of pocket monthly expenses for doctors and medicines. Our savings at that time were well over $100,000. Our savings are probably approaching $200,000 now.

    But beyond the pragmatic issue of cost, the greatest benefit lies in Christians supporting each other when in need. That blessing is priceless.

    1. Carolyn @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful experience using a health sharing ministry! We use Samaritan as well.

  4. We’ve been members of Samaritan Ministries for years and have unfortunately needed to share quite a few needs over the years, including one for a major emergency surgery.

    I wanted to share about a recent positive experience we had. My daughter started working at a school district as the custodial equivalent of a substitute teacher. Of course, as soon as she started working in the petri dish of a school she came down with strep-like symptoms. The school nurse sent her home, so she stopped at Urgent Care on the way to make sure that she could return to work as soon as possible.

    The bills looked as if they would be about $310, so we decided to just cover the expense ourselves.

    The next week she was hired for a full-time position, and according to Samaritan guidelines she needed to transition off our policy. Since the school district offered her $0 premium health insurance, she chose to drop the sharing ministry.

    Two months later the final bill came in. We hadn’t realized that the lab hadn’t billed yet, and it was significant. We felt we needed to contact Samaritan. It turned out that they were able to reactivate her account and submit that single need without any problems. We were more than impressed. I felt absolutely blessed by God.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      That IS impressive, Elizabeth – I’m so glad you shared! It’s nice to know that being a member of Samaritan really allows you to work with *people* and not red tape laden systems. Wonderful! 🙂 Katie

  5. Just making sure I understand correctly. A child with food allergies or asthma would not be covered in an emergency related to the allergy or asthma? My husband wanted to join a Christian share plan, but most of our medical costs are related to these things.

    1. Pre-existing conditions are not covered, although they may be covered as a special prayer need, an optional gift that members may choose to give that is above and beyond the regular share. Of course, all members are urged to pray for special prayer needs, even if their finances preclude giving.

    2. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Amber,
      Every case is so different – if you’re looking into these, a call to Samaritan customer service will be well worth your time to talk out your specific family situation. I hope they have good news for you! 🙂 Katie

    3. Most likely the on-going treatments would not be covered, but the emergency ones may be. They could be covered as “special prayer needs” and you could get some coverage that way.

  6. So do you make your monthly payments to other members, rather than the health share itself? And then any payments you received for medical bills would come from other members, not the health share? That sounds like a pain.

    I have liberty health share. My monthly payments are autopaid to the health share, and they distribute funds as needed. I submitted my first share request this year for prenatal care and upcoming delivery with a birth center, and it was so easy.

    We signed up for liberty because it was the best fit for us at the time, but have been talking about price comparing the different health shares again. If that’s really how Samaritan works, that looks much more complicated.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Hi Katie,
      You understand correctly, yes – with Samaritan you send one check to a different family each month (it’s much easier now that most people use though). I’m allllll about automation with my finances as well and this part was my major holdup too. You can read about it in my other post a bit, but it hasn’t been bad at all in practice, and there’s a certain connection to those you’re sharing to and from that is special in the Body of Christ. I’ve heard multiple horror stories about Liberty, so I’m very glad you’ve had a positive experience so far! If you’re price comparing, we’ve done the work for you. 😉 Grab the spreadsheet here:

      🙂 Katie

  7. We have been with Samaritan’s for at least 18 years and have never looked back! We were with another needs sharing ministry for 4 years before that. We’ve submitted needs for the birth of our last child, 3 surgeries for me, and a variety of other medical issues for our children. Each time, many medical personnel have been helpful in reducing costs by giving us lists of items (Tylenol, compression socks, …) to bring with us to the hospital so we wouldn’t be charged outrages amounts for them, offering unused consumable items (Chux, diapers, dry shampoo) other patients left behind, or asking to be paid by check the day of the procedure & only charging 1/2. The best part is getting cards from strangers saying they are praying for you! I’ve even received a specially drawn picture from a 4 year old to cheer me!

  8. We LOVE Samaritan!! We’ve been members since 2014 and, unfortunately, have submitted quite a few needs. Each one was handled with professionalism and courtesy by the staff. The best part for us? The kind words and prayers from the staff and members sending shares to us. What a blessing! We’ve been pleasantly surprised by things being covered that we were unsure of. It is a bit of a burden to pay up front (many of the providers we’ve worked with require payment in full for a cash pay discount), but we’ve always been reimbursed. It takes a leap of faith to leave traditional insurance, but Samaritan has never let us down.

    1. Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship

      Thank you for sharing your story, Andrea! What a positive experience and well balanced description. 🙂 Katie

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