In 1999, I sent out a request for information from those who have had personal experience with medical sharing plans.
For six or so years prior to that, we had had family health insurance through Blue Cross of Washington and Alaska. After moving to another state in 1999, we were informed that Blue Cross of Washington could no longer cover us and we would have to get another policy (each Blue Cross associate is a separate entity). We learned that a Blue Cross policy in the new state would cost much more than we had paid in Washington for less coverage.
MEDICAL SHARING PROGRAMS
With a medical sharing plan, the participants assume responsibility for paying the medical expenses of the program members. This is done by averaging the cost of health care and dividing that into a monthly premium or pledge that each participant is required to make. Instead of pooling the money, the participants send their monthly pledge directly to another participant who has a current medical expense. One man said, “I would much rather write a check to an individual every month as opposed to an insurance conglomerate!” The participants pledge that they are church-going Christians and that they abstain from alcohol and tobacco. This helps keep the health costs lower than those of the general population.
Of the medical sharing programs that were recommended to me, I will share the basic overview of two of these and some of the responses I have received about them.
Several dozen people have shared their personal testimonies with me about these programs, and all but two or three are generally satisfied and find the medical sharing programs equal or superior to standard health insurance policies.
CHRISTIAN HEALTHCARE MINISTRIES [P.O. Box 3948, Akron, OH 44314. 800-269-4030, www.cbnews.org]
Though Christian Healthcare Ministries (formerly known as Christian Brotherhood) went through some rough water financially some years back, things have turned around.
On June 11, 2007, a pastor wrote: “My wife and I have been members since '93, and found no problems whatsoever. For the two of us, with a $1K deductible, we pay a total of $135/mo. Since both of us also have Medicare, if and when we have to use their program for health care, our Medicare covers the deductible, therefore, there will always be a zero balance on our part. They also offer a comprehensive education into how to negotiate with hospitals regarding a payment schedule that can lower your expenses a great deal.”
On July 20, 2009, a lady wrote, “I am just writing to suggest that you update your posting regarding Christian Healthcare Ministries. Although they had some difficulties quite a few years ago, they have worked hard to overcome the issues and now serve Christians with integrity. My husband has incurred over $100,000 in medical bills due to a cancer diagnosis in 2007. Although some providers don't understand the concept and are a bit hesitant, several others welcomed the plan and allowed us to make minimal payments while we were waiting for our need to be shared with the other members. CHM has ended up paying a considerable amount more toward our bills than a traditional insurance company would have, so our out-of-pocket expenses over the last 2 years have been substantially less than they would have been. I highly recommend Christian Healthcare Ministries.”
On August 13, 2009, a pastor wrote, “I just wanted to say that my family uses Christian Health Care Ministries, formerly Christian Brotherhood. Yes, they had problems in the past but it is a great service now. We highly recommend them and so do my in laws who are missionaries in the Philippines.”
On November 28, 2010, Pastor John Horner, Liberty Baptist Church, Minier, Illinois, sent the following testimony:
“Christian Healthcare Ministries is great. We have been members since 1989. Last year, when I had two disks removed from my cervical spine, bone grafts done and three vertebrae fused with a titanium plate, the bills totaled about $80,000. CHM negotiated discounts with my providers and got most of my bills lowered by anywhere from 40 to 74%. Because I received discounts of more than my $500 deductible, CHM waved the deductible and paid all of my bills in full. Within seven months of my surgery, all of my providers were paid. CHM has three levels of participation, Gold, Silver and Bronze. The monthly cost and amount of deductible depends on the level you choose. My wife and I pay $300 per month for the Gold level and have a $500 deductible. This takes care of major medical problems, rather than simple doctor visits, prescriptions, etc. CHM will cover the cost for up to $125,000 per medical incident. CHM also offers a program called Brothers Keeper, that covers medical bills which exceed $125,000. Brothers Keeper will provide coverage up to $1,000,000 per medical incident. The charge for this additional coverage is about $25 every three months. With each of these programs, it takes approximately three months to receive payment from the time approved needs are submitted to CHM. Most providers will want a monthly payment, on the account, while waiting for full payment.”
[If you sign up for Christian Healthcare Ministries, we suggest that you mention Pastor John Horner as your referring party. They will wave one month’s payment for him for each referral.]
SAMARITAN MINISTRIES [CHRISTIAN HEALTH CARE NEWSLETTER, P.O. Box 3618, Peoria IL 61612-3618, 877-764-2426 (toll free), http://www.samaritanministries.org]
Under the Samaritan Ministries program (not to be confused with Good Samaritan), the subscriber pays for the first three medical incidents per year under $300, and the program shares the cost of treatments over $300 (up to $250,000).
The subscriber receives a newsletter each month listing the needs of fellow subscribers. He also is given the name and address of the specific individual or family to whom he is to send his monthly share. The subscriber sends his gift and a note of encouragement. When the subscriber has a medical incident, he sends the bills to Samaritan Ministries for verification and publication.
Samaritan Ministries began publishing medical needs in 1994 after three years of research and planning. The Samaritan Ministries program was highly recommended to me by several people and no serious problems were mentioned. One pastor described it as “an extremely well managed program.”
SAMARITAN MINISTRIES IS WHAT THE CLOUD FAMILY JOINED IN 1999, AND WE HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY SATISFIED. IN THE LAST THREE YEARS WE HAVE PUBLISHED THE NEEDS OF TWO MAJOR MEDICAL TREATMENTS AND RECEIVED FULL PAYMENT.
IF ANYONE READING THIS ARTICLE SIGNS UP FOR SAMARITAN MINISTRIES, IT WOULD BE VERY HELPFUL IF YOU WOULD TELL THEM THAT YOU WERE REFERRED BY DAVID CLOUD. THEY WILL GIVE US A DISCOUNT ON OUR MONTHLY PAYMENT FOR EACH REFERRAL.
Sharing Policy: Much of our material is available for free, such as the hundreds of articles at the Way of Life web site. Other items we sell to help fund our expensive literature and foreign church planting ministries. Way of Life's content falls into two categories: sharable and non-sharable. Things that we encourage you to share include the audio sermons, O Timothy magazine, FBIS articles, and the free eVideos and free eBooks. You are welcome to make copies of these at your own expense and share them with friends and family, but they cannot be posted to web sites. You are also welcome to use excerpts from the articles in your writings, in sermons, in church bulletins, etc. All we ask is that you give proper credit. Things we do not want copied and distributed freely are items like the Fundamental Baptist Digital Library, print editions of our books, electronic editions of the books that we sell, the videos that we sell, etc. The items have taken years to produce at enormous expense in time and money, and we use the income from sales to help fund the ministry. We trust that your Christian honesty will preserve the integrity of this policy. "For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward" (1 Timothy 5:18).
Goal:Distributed by Way of Life Literature Inc., the Fundamental Baptist Information Service is an e-mail posting for Bible-believing Christians. Established in 1974, Way of Life Literature is a fundamental Baptist preaching and publishing ministry based in Bethel Baptist Church, London, Ontario, of which Wilbert Unger is the founding Pastor. Brother Cloud lives in South Asia where he has been a church planting missionary since 1979. Our primary goal with the FBIS is to provide material to assist preachers in the edification and protection of the churches.
Offering: We take up a quarterly offering to fund this ministry, and those who use the materials are expected to participate (Galatians 6:6) if they can. We do not solicit funds from those who do not agree with our preaching and who are not helped by these publications. We seek offerings only from those who are helped. OFFERINGS can be mailed or made online with with Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Paypal. For information see: www.wayoflife.org/about/makeanoffering.html.
Way of Life Literature
Publisher of Bible Study Materials