Modern Samaritans: My Healthcare Alternative

You know the story of the Good Samaritan, don’t you? A man injured on the side of the road is passed by a temple servant and a priest, but then helped by a Samaritan who takes care of him. Don’t you wish modern healthcare worked the same way?

The Good Samaritan

Today, the parable would probably read differently. A man injured on the side the road is passed by an insurance agent and a government bureaucrat. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a Good Samaritan come through and take care of you and your family’s needs?

Let’s face it, the state of medical care is in disarray at the moment. Who would have thought it would get this bad? Obamacare is an utter mess. From website failure to millions losing their existing coverage, the state of American healthcare — once a beacon to the world — is a joke. Insurance is now mandated by government to cover things they didn’t need to cover, so premiums are skyrocketing. Millions are losing their coverage, business are downgrading their plans, and families are scrambling to figure something out.

My family is totally unplugged from the chaos. We are on one of those “exemptions” granted by the government. We are involved in a community and not-so-complicated database of Christians who refer to themselves as “Samaritans.”

More specifically, the group is called Samaritan Ministries. We are “uninsured,” we pay cash for our medical expenses, and we give to one another as medical emergencies rise. In our nearly 10 years of membership, we have never been left on the side of the road. All our medical expenses have been taken care of. Our testimony cannot be more validated or confident. I cannot recommend this organization more.

Sound dreamy or too-good-to-be-true? Well, it works. The Jeubs have been members since 2004. Our testimony — and the testimonies of tens of thousands of members — may be just the solution your family is searching for.

It Works

In the modern sense, Samaritan is not “insurance.” You are not contractually yoked with a big corporation somewhere that manages members and claims.  But in a more traditional sense, it is like what insurance started out to be: a group of people pooling resources to make sure no one gets overwhelmed in an emergency. Through our yearly membership, we stay connected with other members and take care of one another.

Every month, we receive a newsletter. It lists prayer requests of its membership — who had babies, who had accidents, etc. Included in the newsletter is a personal, database-driven explanation of the person we are assigned to. Our monthly $320 “bill” is actually a check to one of the other members. We send off the check — along with a friendly get-well card — and consider our help done till the next month. We pray for the others in the letter, and we even have the opportunity to give to other medical needs that are published in the newsletter.

Naturally, there are some restrictions. Pre-existing and cosmetic conditions are not covered, as is the case with most health insurance. Members do sometimes have to find other coverage for these kinds of concerns. Members also need to be professing Christians; Samaritan Ministries is, very clearly, a nonprofit Christian community.

You can find out more at their website. All in all, it isn’t as complicated as you might think (certainly not as complicated as Obamacare or any insurance company). Think about it. Why couldn’t a small office in Illinois manage a not-so-difficult list of 35,000 families to remind everyone to take care of one another? That’s essentially what Samaritan does, the cost savings is incredible, and members like us are freed to help others as we may be helped ourselves.

It Helps

Being a part of this community is a genuinely great feeling. I help others, and in times of need, I am helped. We’re a genuinely healthy family, and for years paid into the Samaritan membership without having to submit many prayer requests at all. Other than a new child every couple of years, not many bills stacked up.

Here’s a change of thinking that members need to get their heads around: You are responsible for your medical care. Technically, the perspective that you’re not responsible for your own medical care is an illusion. You can call this cruel and inhumane all you want, but the reality is that medical care is expensive, and it needs to be paid for. Both government and private insurance know this full well. Bureaucrat panels and rejection letters will still follow your claims, and, if something falls through the cracks (and it inevitably will), the doctors and hospitals will come to you to pay for your services.

As Samaritan members, we don’t even begin to play this gambling game. When we go to the doctors and are asked what insurance we have, we say we are “cash pay.” It’s almost funny how we are immediately sent another direction than everyone else with insurance. The full-time staff who deals with insurance is bi-passed. Our bills are very typically dropped 35-55%. The bureaucracy and paperwork of insurance is totally avoided, making things easier and simpler for both the doctors and us.

We have a $500 deductible. Frankly, I don’t mind paying for the little expenses here and there, and insurance that pays for every sniffle and sneeze is insurance that breeds a dependency that probably adds to our current healthcare problems. Our personal financial agility usually allows for a few thousand dollars to be accessed at any given time in case of a medical emergency. Most “emergencies” of a family like ours (for a family my size, we have a pretty good track record of emergency room visits every few years or so) won’t break the bank. We manage the hospital and doctor bills as they come in.

Again, this is the change of thinking: we are responsible. There have been times when we get a bill, see an outrageously high charge for something petty, and call the doctor/hospital to voice disapproval. When you are covered by insurance or the government, who even blinks? For example, my son Micah cut his finger in a table saw a couple years ago. At one of the followup visits — that was supposed to be free of charge — the doctor charged $250 for a splint he taped to his finger. It was no more than a popsicle stick and a bandaid. We called, they dropped the price to $25 or something, and we paid the bill.

We really pushed the limits in 2011 when three medical bills within months of one another hit us all at once. We racked up $130,000 in bills. The end story: every single penny was paid off. We worked with doctors and hospitals and Samaritan to tackle the medical expenses — Micah’s finger surgery, a heart infection of mine, and a tumor in Wendy’s throat that needed removing. Within a year, all the bills were paid and we were back to our healthy selves. (Read more about the details on my family’s website.)

That year was testimony to us. We became big advocates for Samaritan, extremely grateful for the system they have perfected over the years. I suspect that you would be impressed, too.

Join

Washington DC has their work cut out for them. I believe they’ll be fixing their system for years to come. In the mean time, I strongly encourage you to take matters into your own hands and do some fixing yourselves. The community of Samaritans rely on one another and the Christian compassion that, I believe, God wants from all of us. Contact Samaritan and request an information packet.

Perhaps we’ll see each other’s names in the monthly newsletter. Maybe even have the opportunity to send one another a get-well card with a check. The community of Samaritans is a great group to be a part of.

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  • Katrina Louise Kolseth

    Can you help me understand or direct me to a page that would explain if / how Samaritan would work with elderly who are on Medicare?