These are a few of the questions—and misconceptions—that Samaritan Ministries International (samaritanministries.org), one of the leading health care sharing ministries in America, encounters when it comes to the myths about health care sharing ministries (HCSMs).
Since its inception 23 years ago, Samaritan Ministries has enabled hundreds of thousands of people to honor God through their health care, and connects these members as a body of believers that “bears one another’s burdens” as the Bible instructs in Galatians 6:2.
“From the earliest days of health care sharing ministries, objections to the methods of these ministries have been raised that are based on inaccuracies and misunderstandings,” writes Samaritan Ministries’ Michael Miller in a new commentary for The Christian Post. “As the health care landscape changes rapidly, Samaritan works to infuse doses of reality that bust these myths and give people a true picture of health care sharing.”
Some of the most common myths include the following:
Myth #1: Medical providers won’t treat me if I don’t have health insurance.
Reality: This myth is disproven every month as members of Samaritan Ministries share more than $25 million in medical needs each month. That sharing wouldn’t happen if there weren’t bills to submit. In other words, the fact that needs have been submitted means that members went to doctors or other health care providers, were treated and received bills, which they then submitted for sharing.
Health care sharing members are “cash-pay” patients, and because the provider avoids insurance paperwork, many have come to appreciate, and even prefer, health care sharing members.
Myth #2: Health care sharing ministries are like health insurance.
Reality: Because Samaritan Ministries, like other health care sharing ministries, is not health insurance, health care sharing does not work like health insurance. Rather than pay a premium to a company, Samaritan members send monthly shares directly to other member families who have submitted needs that qualify for sharing. Health care sharing ministries are arrangements in which Christians assist one another with medical expenses through voluntary giving.
In fact, 30 states have laws clarifying that HCSMs are not providing health insurance and not subject to health insurance requirements—requirements that would undermine their ministry approach. Perhaps most importantly, unlike health insurance, the focus of Samaritan Ministries’ need sharing is not on what members can receive financially if they have a need in the future, but on how members can help others with the needs they have right now, as outlined in Acts 20:35.
Myth #3: A “big need” would “break” a health care sharing ministry.
Reality: Health care sharing ministries have always understood the reality of health care costs. That’s why both membership levels at Samaritan Ministries—Samaritan Classic and Samaritan Basic—have a need limit that reflects that reality ($250,000 per need) and an additional ministry that members can join that has no limit.
Members of HCSMs have been sharing needs since 1982, when the oldest HCSM began, and are seeing God provide not only for financial needs totaling more than tens of millions of dollars every month, but also for physical, emotional and spiritual needs. HCSMs have handled many “big needs” over the years, from open heart surgery to long-term bouts of cancer treatment. Samaritan Ministries uses a process it calls pro-rating to keep the amount of needs in line with the share money available.
Myth #4: Not enough people will send money to a member with a need, so the need won’t be met.
This myth is sometimes raised because of a mistaken assumption that Samaritan Ministries and other HCSMs simply let people know a member has a need and then wait to see who responds.
Reality: Samaritan has an organized method of assigning the appropriate amount of shares for each need. For example, every month, each member receives a “share slip” telling them about another member’s need that has been assigned and giving an address to send their share to. The member with the need is sent a checklist to know who is supposed to send them shares. That member then sends the checklist back to Samaritan. If any member fails to send their share, steps are taken to see that the missing share is made up.
Myth #5: Members of health care sharing ministries contribute to the rising cost of health care through cost shifting.
Reality: HCSM members share hundreds of millions of dollars per year in health care expenses among nearly 1 million individuals in all 50 states. While studies show that uninsured people are typically charged more than what insurance companies pay for the same services, HCSM members’ bills are paid in a timely manner with shares that are lower than typical insurance premiums. Samaritan members help meet the health care needs of those financially less well off, as their members’ median income is significantly below that of the U.S. population, and do so without depending on funding or grants from government sources.
Last fall, Samaritan Ministries introduced a new membership level, Samaritan Basic, which offers a lower monthly share, coupled with a higher initial unshared amount, giving both current and future members another way to make the best health care sharing choice for their families—and their budgets.
Monthly shares for Samaritan Basic start as low as $100 for one person, $200 for two people and $250 for a family of any size, depending on age. Some guidelines differ between Samaritan Basic and Samaritan Classic; contact Samaritan Ministries for details or visit this link.
Each month, 75,000 member households and more than 240,000 individuals pray and send notes, cards and monthly financial shares directly to other member families. In this way, Samaritan members share $25 million in medical needs each month through an effective, affordable and God-honoring ministry for Christian families.