With the Affordable Care Act (ACA) rolling out more extensively this year, I wanted to write an extensive Samaritan Ministries review. Many families and individuals have been searching for healthcare alternatives and alternatives to ACA (or healthcare alternatives to Obamacare). Millions of households have seen premium increases, less coverage on existing plans, or simply lost insurance altogether due to the ACA. This is causing many problems across the country.
My Introduction to Health Care Sharing Organizations
Over four years ago, I had an individual coverage plan through a major insurance provider since I didn’t have access to health care insurance through the ministry that I was employed at. The premium for my wife and I was very expensive and the deductible was very high. After just one year, the premium jumped up and became unaffordable.
Some friends of mine suggested that I look at Samaritan Ministries. It’s a health care sharing organization for Christians. I was skeptical at first due to the way it worked, but now 4 years later, I can’t imagine having traditional health insurance.
Samaritain Ministries: How does it work?
Every month, Samaritan Ministries sends out a newsletter to each member with a name, address, and financial need of another member. All of the members send their “share” to the member listed on the newsletter. The monthly share that a family shares each month is determined by your membership type. Each member sends a card, a note of encouragement, and their financial share.
On the other side of the table, the member that is on the receiving end gets a checklist from Samaritan, with a list of all of the members’ names and the amount to expect from them. Within days, the member’s mailbox fills up with beautiful cards, encouraging notes, and checks to pay all of their bills. A brilliant system, right?
Is it Legal? Does it comply with the new health care law?
I’ve heard a couple folks call up national radio programs and either ask about or suggest health care sharing organizations as an alternative to the ACA requirement. Surprisingly, none of the hosts or guests could confirm if it was legal or if it complied with the law. Here’s a quote from the Affordable Care Act, 26 United States Code Section 5000A, (d), (2), (B)
Requirement to maintain minimum essential coverage >> Applicable individual >> Religious exemptions >> Health care sharing ministry
- In general Such term shall not include any individual for any month if such individual is a member of a health care sharing ministry for the month.
- Health care sharing ministry. The term “health care sharing ministry” means an organization—
- which is described in section 501 (c)(3) and is exempt from taxation under section 501 (a),
- members of which share a common set of ethical or religious beliefs and share medical expenses among members in accordance with those beliefs and without regard to the State in which a member resides or is employed,
- members of which retain membership even after they develop a medical condition,
- which (or a predecessor of which) has been in existence at all times since December 31, 1999, and medical expenses of its members have been shared continuously and without interruption since at least December 31, 1999, and
- which conducts an annual audit which is performed by an independent certified public accounting firm in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and which is made available to the public upon request.
Samaritan Ministries meets all these guidelines and all members are exempt from the IRS’ requirement of health insurance. Health care sharing organizations are also legal.
My Experiences: A Personal Review of Samaritan Ministries
My wife and I have submitted several need requests, as both of our 2 boys were born during our membership at Samaritan Ministries. I also came down with a muscle disorder a few years ago, as well as had surgery in 2013. My youngest son came down with pneumonia and was rushed to the ER when we were out of town during Thanksgiving a couple years ago. All of the covered medical expenses we occurred were “published” and “shared” by other members. What a blessing!
During the last 55 months, we’ve had the privilege to help 55 families with their medical financial needs–from newborns–to cancer treatments. It’s been a joy to send fellow Christians encouraging cards, notes, and know that all of that monthly share is going directly to those who need it–not to the health care insurance agency every single month.
Samaritan Ministries – It’s affordable!
I listen to the news on the radio almost daily. I can’t believe how families are paying $500, $900, and sometimes as much as $1,500 a month for health insurance! As of January 2014, the monthly shares are as shown on the picture to the right.
As you can see – compared to most individual health care plans (of which usually come with large deductibles), this is relatively much more affordable! And–you don’t need any coupons to get those prices!
Wrapping it up…
If you are unsatisfied with your current health care insurance provider, or have lost insurance, I’d highly recommend Samaritan Ministries to you. If you thought health care insurance was too expensive, compare the prices to Samaritan Ministries membership costs. You wouldn’t be the only one. Samaritan Ministries has grown by leaps and bounds over the last few months. For the first time in their history, over 1,100 individuals & families have applied in the last month alone.
If you want to learn more, watch the introductory video. You can also read member’s testimonies as well. Look at how it works here. And feel free to contact them if you have specific questions. If you have any questions for me, it would be a privilege to help. I’ll meet you in the comments.