A New Samaritan…

Some time ago, I indicated that I was seriously considering ditching traditional health insurance.  With the agreement of my wife, we’ve finally decided to make the change.  

We’re going to be enrolling with Samaritan Ministries International (SMI).  This is not health care insurance, it is a Christian cost-sharing association.  Members voluntarily promise to assist one another with health care costs.  Because it is not insurance, there are no premiums.  Rather, each month we will be directed as to where to send our share for the month.  We send that money to an individual – not to the Ministry.  We send it along with a personal note of support and encouragement, and along with our prayers.
The program is only for Biblical Christians, and they have a series of requirements that determine that this is the case.  Covered medical expenses over $300 are submitted to SMI, who validates that the claim is covered under their policies.  They then engage the services of a firm that negotiates directly with doctors and hospitals to arrange for more favorable charges since the costs will be paid in cash rather than having to go through insurance reimbursements.  Then the outstanding balance of the need is published to the general membership, and specific members are directed to send their monthly share directly to the person(s) with need.  Incident expenses up to $250,000 can be submitted for cost-sharing, and there is an optional program to participate in if you wish to be covered for possible issues above $250,000.  
Health care sharing programs are specifically exempt from the new Federal requirements for mandatory insurance.  
Why go this route?
1.  I do not wish to participate in a mandatory insurance program where part of my money is being used to fund abortions.
2.  I do not believe that our government is right in demanding health-care insurance of everyone, or that is capable of creating a program that will respect my individual religious freedoms and rights.
3.  I like the theology of this kind of cost-sharing program.  While it is not Biblical, it is more Biblical than insurance programs, in my opinion.
4.  I believe that while it is more economical to join a cost-sharing network right now, the costs for people who purchase their own health insurance (which is what we were doing) are likely to skyrocket once the Federal program kicks in.  
5.  I hate the paranoia and fear which drives the insurance industry.  I hate the feeling of vulnerability because our health care system no longer functions in a healthy manner.
This particular group has been around since 1991, and I haven’t been able to find any tangible negative press about them (or any other Christian cost-sharing program for that matter).  Most negative comments are about the fact that ‘coverage’ is not guaranteed.  There is no guarantee that my bills will be covered by the other members’ sharing.  I remain responsible for my own bills.  But in talking with people who have used this or other programs, I’ve yet to meet someone that was left holding the bag alone for their bills.  
I’ll let you know how it goes, but I’m looking forward to this.  I trust you’ll weigh in if you have experiences or concerns that maybe I haven’t heard about!

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