When I went out on my own in 2004, my COBRA insurance was well over $1,000 per month. Way out of my league at the time. That’s when my family discovered Samaritan Ministries. We’ve had a wonderful nine years of membership with our top-most healthcare needs met, and for 1/4 the cost.
The 501c3 nonprofit runs quite an organization. Samaritan is not health “insurance” per se, but rather a network of people who take care of one another’s medical needs. We subscribe to their monthly newsletter, complete with helpful articles and lists of members who have specific health-related issues. The network informs us of who to send our monthly fee (approximately $300), and we usually send it with a nice get-well note. The ones pictured were notes we received when we filed claims.
As of July 2012, Samaritan has collected over 21,000 member households. That’s about $7 million of health-related needs being met every month, with nothing filtering through insurance industries or government bureaucracy. My wife and I send out a check every month to the family or individual we’re assigned, and we know that 100% of that fee goes to a family in need.
Up to about a year-and-a-half ago, we made low to modest claims to Samaritan Ministries, making just a handful of claims over the first seven years of our membership. Pregnancy expenses have all been reimbursed. Wendy was hospitalized in 2007 when she came down with a nasty flu, and the bill was over $7000. All of it was reimbursed. One of our children had a cosmetic surgery, something not normally covered in insurance, and though Samaritan wasn’t able to pull completely through for us, the kind people in the network sent us extra gifts to reimburse most of our costs.
When we tell doctors we work through this network, they have consistently dropped their fees 40-60%. Hospitals are used to the red tape of insurance, lawyers and political nonsense, so the response to someone who offers to pay in cash is warmly received.
Paying upfront has been noted by some as a “down side” of Samaritan – that we have to pay our medical bills and file claims for reimbursement later. We’re largely a debt-free family (meaning we have plenty of lines of credit), so it always has made sense for us. Besides, hospitals and doctors are usually very willing to work with patients who aren’t able to pay right away. All in all, the comparative advantage is incredible.
I would venture to guess that one of the biggest reasons people resist self-employment is because of health insurance costs. Samaritan Ministries has been a tried-and-true alternative that my wife and I put our full support behind. See www.samaritanministries.org for more information. And if you have questions for me, go ahead and shoot me a message through my Connect Page. I’m an honest believer in the organization, so I am happy to answer questions.
Have you considered healthcare alternatives like Samaritan?