Later this month, uninsured Americans around the country—or those looking for a change in how to pay for expensive health care—will face the Jan. 31 Affordable Care Act deadline.
Many questions will be part of that decision, and Samaritan Ministries International, which accepts applications all year, answers some of the most frequently asked questions about health care sharing.
Health care sharing has existed for decades, but many are only recently learning about this simple, non-insurance, direct-sharing approach, especially in the wake of a changing health care landscape. For 22 years, Samaritan Ministries has provided its members with the refreshing opportunity to apply the principles of New Testament living to 21st-century health care.
“On a daily basis, we hear from those interested in health care sharing, and their questions are certainly varied but do have a common theme,” said Anthony Hopp, Samaritan’s vice president for external relations. “The No. 1 question we hear is, ‘How does health care sharing actually work?’ Even though it’s a simple concept, the idea of directly sharing heath care needs from household to household can be foreign to many. But once we explain where their money is going each month—directly to other families in need—a light bulb goes on because they know exactly how their money is being used and who, specifically, it is helping. That is such a blessing to both the giver and the receiver.”
Since 1994, Samaritan Ministries has worked to bring health care back to Biblical basics, applying the definition of Biblical community to health care. Today, more than 68,000 member households (221,000 individuals) send a monthly financial share directly to other member households who have had medical needs.
Samaritan members also pray for one another and include notes and cards of encouragement and comfort. In this simple way, they are currently sharing more than $23 million each month, yet the monthly share has never exceeded $495 for a family of any size, and is even less for couples and singles.
Samaritan Ministries’ focus remains on Christians helping other Christians with their needs, as the Bible instructs in Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (ESV).
The feedback is positive from many who have discovered health care sharing and found that they can approach health care in both a Biblical and affordable way.
Wrote Savanna from South Dakota, “We have been members with Samaritan Ministries since February of 2014. We have had two needs during that time. One in spring of 2014 when my husband was hospitalized with pneumonia, and the second in spring of 2015 when we had a home birth with our son. Both times, the submission process of our needs went very smoothly and we promptly received shares from assigned members. No issues at all! I couldn’t believe how much easier it was as compared to insurance. My favorite part of Samaritan Ministries is that we send our check directly to a family in need! We couldn’t be happier with Samaritan Ministries!”
Added Heather from Minnesota, “There is no better feeling than getting cards and letters in your mailbox from complete strangers who are praying for you. I also love sending my share each month. I have my kids draw pictures and sometimes send a small little gift in the mail (e.g., a pack of stickers if it’s for a child). It’s a great lesson for my kids. Even if my employer were to offer health insurance, I would have a hard time accepting it because I love Samaritan so much. It’s an amazing ministry.”
Besides allowing members to bless other Christians and find a health care solution that fits within a family’s budget, those who are a part of health care sharing ministries like Samaritan are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance mandate, and they do not share in needs for unbiblical practices, such as abortion.
For more information on Samaritan Ministries International, visit www.