In December of 2012, we dropped our traditional health insurance and joined a “medical sharing group” called Samaritan Ministries International.

We had officially gone crazy.

I talk in a previous post about exactly how Samaritan Ministries works. {It meets the “insurance” requirements set in place by the government so that we won’t be fined.} Then I shared about my fourth pregnancy, the ginormous out of pocket cost we had to pay and where things didn’t turn out like we thought they would with getting that money back through Samaritan.

A number of people have asked how things turned out and if we ever received our money for the maternity medical expenses.

Yes and no.

{That’s the short answer. Want the long one? ;) Read on.}

samaritan

A couple of months before I had my first non-medicated, super fast delivery of our daughter Lydia, we spoke to someone from Samaritan Ministries regarding the remainder of our bill, which had been pro-rated because there was not enough money to cover 100% of the medical needs that month.

They told us that there was money in a “pro-rata” fund, where money from generous members who want to help cover the pro-rated expenses is stored,  to help pay the rest of our bill. However, we had to wait until baby was born and we got the final bill before we could submit the remainder of the cost to SMI (if there was any more cost than the huge amount we’d already paid out of pocket).

The way I saw it, the only way we would be assured of it working out was when we actually received the missing funds. 

This was a rather large stretch of faith for me. I know that I can trust God to take care of me, but I also like tangible evidence to that end. So of course, the prospect of not ever receiving the remaining funds completely stressed me out (being 7 months pregnant and hormonal didn’t help either). My husband, thankfully, was much more confident. He’s a Mr. Steady and I am so thankful :)

How does the story end?

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Besides the gift of another beautiful, healthy daughter, we were also overjoyed to receive a HUGE refund from the hospital! 

You see, since I had an natural delivery with no medication, there was no charge for an epidural, anesthesiologist, the epidural meds, and a number of other random odds and ends. Praise the Lord that Lydia had no complications and neither did I, so the cost we had paid out of pocket was largely overestimated. We received our refund check in the mail a couple of months after her birth, almost a year to the day after we had joined as members of SMI.

Because of that, we didn’t need to utilize the pro-rata fund from Samaritan Ministries! We actually had to pay back Samaritan Ministries because of the large hospital refund! Thank the Lord!

God provided once again (why do I forget that He does that so easily?). And since Samaritan did tell us that there was enough money to cover any additional expenses in the pro-rata fund, at this point, we’re choosing to trust that it would have been covered if we had needed it. The person we talked to in the office said that he’s never seen a published need go unmet.

All this aside, through the ups and downs of this experience, we will continue to share our medical needs through Samaritan Ministries. The money we were missing initially because of the pro-rating was less than some would probably pay through a traditional insurance deductible plus the 80/20 split that many insurance companies are using. You can also save the difference between what you’d pay at SMI monthly and what you pay for your monthly premium through traditional insurance in a savings account, to help pay for your basic medical needs. It’s also great to know that you are being prayed for by other believers.

If you are sick of quickly rising insurance costs, don’t feel comfortable paying for unsavory practices and want to support and pray for other believers, I’d encourage you to check out my first post for a general overview (and some great testimonies in the comments section)!

Then visit the SMI website for many more details, including important information on pre-existing conditions and other policies. It may not work out for everyone, but take the time to find out more if you are at all curious! It has been the best option we could have chosen. If you feel led, you can mention our names as a referral, Kirk & Jennifer Thorson.

photo credit:rosmary/text added

Any questions or comments? Feel free to speak up in the comments section below!

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11 Comments on What We Think of Samaritan Ministries After One Year as Members

    • Hi John,

      This is what the website says: As of October 2015, there are more than 50,000 member households (more than 165,000 individuals). They have added so many new families just over the last two years, I know. Hope that helps!

  1. Hi Jenn,
    Thanks so much for writing about your experiences with Samaritan. My husband is quitting his full-time job the end of this year in order for us to work full-time on our blog. We’re super excited, but health care is one of those BIG hurdles that seems to just become more and more unaffordable with each passing year.

    We’ve been leaning towards Samaritan Ministries and I’m about 95% sure this is the route we’re going to take. Thank you so much for sharing your story and the pros/cons (in your first post). I really appreciate it. My only sight hesitation is that they don’t cover pre-existing conditions. I’m currently being treated for lyme disease (it took several years to finally get a correct diagnosis). I’ll probably be treating it for quite some time and it’s not cheap. My insurance doesn’t cover any of the treatments, but they do cover doctors visits and labs. Even so, I think this route will likely save us money…not to mention I just love the idea of Christians sharing with each other in this way! :)

    Blessings!
    Trisha

    • Hi Trisha! So excited for you guys to go full time on your blog–I know you have put mountains of work into it and it’s fun to see God blessing your efforts. I hear you on the pre-existing conditions. That’s what I’ve found is the biggest hesitation for SMI, and it’s totally understandable. When we were trying to make the final decision, we considered all we would have been spending with traditional insurance just in premiums each month (and they’re only getting more expensive), and we figured that we could save more anyway in the long run by switching. We find that a lot of doctors and dentists and chiropractors, etc will give discounts if you do not have “traditional” insurance too. One thing we did was start an “health savings account” for ourselves (in a separate savings account) before we began using SMI so that we had some money built up for the under $300 expenses/appts that you have to pay out of pocket for. That really helped us get a good start on it, I think, because we had some up front cash to pay for those first doctor’s visits. Praying that you’ll know for sure if Samaritan is right for you! And yes, supporting other believers is a huge blessing!

  2. We are just considering changing from traditional insurance to SMI. Thank you for your review. Can you think of anything else we should be prepared for (like the prorated bills)?
    Thank you,
    Michelle

    • Hi Michelle! A couple of things that you could be prepared for (beside the possibility of prorated bills) is that since you will need to pay out of pocket for well checks, etc, it’s great if you can have some money set aside for that purpose. Some clinics will negotiate for a “cash” price, and some won’t. It’s also good to have some money set aside in case you need to pay a certain amount up front for larger expenses, perhaps a surgery. Most hospitals though, will let you pay a small amount monthly (which then can be reimbursed to you by SMI if it falls under the publishable needs).

      If you have dental or orthodontic concerns, those can be published as a special prayer need but my husband and I decided to just pay for our son’s ortho expenses on our own, as we felt there were more pressing needs that others had. But that is an option if you are prayerfully considering something that doesn’t fall under the publishable guidelines but may be a need.

      My husband and I have a special savings account where we auto-deposit a small amount of money monthly to cover our expenses in this regard or to try to prepare for future expenses as much as possible! This budgeting has saved us a lot of grief. But we honestly don’t go to the doctor very often and it makes us think about it before we rush off to the urgent care for something that can be treated safely at home.

      Blessings as you consider your options! If you do join and feel led to list us as your referral, we would be very thankful but of course it is not necessary :) Let me know if you have any other questions!!

  3. My husband and I have also been on Samaritan for about 3 years now. About 4 months after we joined we found our we were expecting a surprise baby. My most complicated birth to date and $44,000 later, we had our little bundle of joy. Unfortunately, we experience the same situation with the split being 80/20. We were able to MIRACULOUSLY negotiate our bills down to almost $19,000 by paying upfront. (We also delivered at Ohio State University hospital so they were able to write some of the bills off as teaching because of my unique situation with a single artery umbilical cord). We ended up having to front a little more than $4,000 because of the pro-ration and never got anything from the pro-rata fund. I was very disappointed but I know that was a risk I was taking and after being completely uninsured for 5 years, I was glad to not be fronting the ENTIRE bill. :-) God always provides at the right time.
    Then, 7 months later, we were back at the hospital with said baby boy because he contacted meningitis. I was much more careful with my bills this time and instead of sending them all in at once, I sent them in as soon as I got them. This helped tremendously as there was only 1 month (out of 3) that were prorated and it was for my smallest of the submissions (we only had to cover $200). Another $17,000 of bills and lot of prayers that were lifted up for our now, very healthy, and almost 2 year old. :-)
    Overall, I love it. Sure, there is little risk for unexpected circumstances but it has been such a blessing to us since neither of our jobs offer health insurance.

    • Thank you for sharing your testimony about this experience, Casey! It is so good to hear how God works through difficult circumstances to provide–it continually amazes me. Thankful that your little guy is healthy now too! A dear friend of mine had a single artery umbilical cord pregnancy and her son turned out just fine as well, though she was closely monitored during the pregnancy. SMI has definitely been a blessing for us as well and hopefully will continue to work for both our families.

      • Jenn, can you get this message to Casey? I’m hoping you have her email from the comment, Thanks.
        Casey, I’m a Samaritan member and I alerted Samaritan about your comment and they requested that you call them. You should have had money sent from the prorata fund to finish out that need from your son’s birth. They would love to hear from you. Please call Tom at Samaritan Ministries, he wanted to find out what exactly was left over from that need and get you a check for it. From reading your post they couldn’t glean enough information to determine for sure who you are, so they need you to call in. Call him at (877) 764-2426, he should be back in the office next week (I think Oct 8?), or you can call and talk to someone else, but he is the one who is already aware of your story. Have a great day!

    • Casey, have you contacted Samaritan to see about maybe submitting that $4000 as a special prayer need? It may be too old, but maybe its a way to reduce it even further. Never hurts to ask. Maybe they can look into the details of that need and see if there’s anything more they can do. It seems like with that huge discount you got you should have had SOMETHING from the pro-rata fund. Glad you had a successful delivery and that you have a healthy little boy!

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