Health Care Sharing Ministry Update

Long-time readers know that about a year ago my family opted out of the traditional health insurance model in favor of a Christian-based health care sharing program, Samaritan Ministries.   A year into it, we have no complaints.  We haven’t had any claims yet, so I can’t judge their service in that respect.  But I certainly appreciate knowing that our monthly share goes directly to another human being to cover specific medical bills.  

The existence of such organizations is beginning to gain attention.  Our local paper carried a syndicated article on the matter.  Here is the article – though it’s from a different paper.  

Overall the article takes a cautious and skeptical tone.  Such programs are viewed as a means of opting out of Obamacare, even though these programs (and Samaritan Ministries in particular) predate Obamacare by roughly 20 years.  There is suspicion that such programs expose participants to greater risk because there is no state regulation in many instances.  Readers are warned of the possibility of their claim being denied or the company going out of business.

I’ve participated in traditional insurance programs for all of my adult life.  You hear the stories about claims being denied, payouts being slow and complicated by red tape,.  I talk with physician friends of mine who lament the exponential increase in costs to run a private practice due to needing to hire staff simply to navigate the claims process.  I certainly don’t view the risks associated with health care sharing ministries to be any more frightening than traditional insurance plans.  

The article notes as well that things that Obamacare covers for “free” aren’t included in health care sharing programs.  This is true.  But it is also true that these services aren’t “free” in Obamacare or any other insurance program – they’re built into the cost of the coverage.  The fact that you don’t have to pay out-of-pocket for a particular service doesn’t mean you aren’t paying for it.  Haven’t, in fact, paid for it many times over.  

Such programs aren’t for everyone.  You need to evaluate the coverage carefully to make sure it meets your current and anticipated needs.  But at least a year or so into it, I see no downsides to the program.  It requires a mindset switch, but I think that overall this is a good thing.  

For instance, yesterday our daughter was stung by a scorpion at the beach.  We were worried about her participating in a Junior Lifeguard training program, but none of our concerns included scorpions hiding in the sand.  Apparently, there are such critters.  When I got the phone call from one of her instructors, he asked if I wanted to call 9-1-1 or take her to the hospital.  As I drove to go get her, my mind raced.  What did I know about scorpion bites?  What is necessary?  What sort of danger is she in?

Of course, I considered 9-1-1 and the hospital.  I knew that there could be costs associated with those services, but my style of coverage didn’t preclude me from considering those options.  I would pay whatever was necessary to help my daughter.  That’s good to know.  If I had hesitated to consider all the options out of fear of whether or not the claim would be covered, it would be a good indication I had the wrong sort of coverage.  

She was fine at the beach when I got her, and we went home so I could do some research.  Turns out the vast majority of scorpions and their stings aren’t venomous enough to pose any real health threat, unless the person is particularly sensitive/allergic.  She doesn’t appear to be – not even any swelling around the sting – and she’s back at lifeguard training today.  She was apprehensive about going back, newly fearful about the beach.  I’m glad I am not newly fearful about our health coverage.

Not yet, at least.

 

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2 Responses to “Health Care Sharing Ministry Update”

  1. sarahsjoys Says:

    Oh my goodness! I’m so glad she’s okay!!

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