We all grieve together on the pains and struggles of traditional insurance, with monthly payments, and insane deductibles, and co-pays, and the premium. Once I aged out of my parents plan, I knew that I wanted to find an alternative, and I found one. Healthshare.
What is HealthShare?
HealthShare offers people an affordable way to manage medical expenses. They are not insurance, but a nonprofit organization where they help facilitate the voluntary sharing between members to pay each other’s medical costs.
It’s easier to share my experience than to try to explain it. It took me quite some time to understand it myself until I asked others who were participating in it.
I am a member of Samaritan Ministries, a Christian HealthShare organization. There are many organizations out there, but I went with Samaritan for various reasons. There are many HealthShares out there that are not Christian, but one key reason I went with Samaritan is because they are.
In order to be a member of Samaritan, I had to agree to a Statement of Faith (belief in God, belief that Jesus died for our sins, belief that all people have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, etc) and Membership Agreement (agree to attend church regularly, belief that Christians should share each others burdens, agree to not using drugs, abstain from sexual activity outside marriage, agree to practice good health in accordance to the belief that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, etc.).
My monthly payment, or “share”, is $160 a month.
If I have a medical need, I upload the bills (which are usually discounted 40% because I’m flagged as a cash payer), explain the health issue, explain the treatment, if the medical need is fulfilled or still ongoing, and an opportunity to share info for a prayer request. The medical need is reviewed and when/if approved, it’s labeled “shareable”. Your medical need would be split between other members and shared with them. They would then mail or PayPal you their monthly “share”.
Seems weird right? Or too good to be true? I was hesitant too! To be transparent, I always have this deep hidden fear that something will go wrong and I’ll suddenly be faced with a large medical bill that I have to pay for myself…but I know I had dealt with the same type of fears with traditional insurance.
My son ended up being on Healthshare with me for a few months and we had to submit a need after a trip to the ER. The total bill was over $2,000. We received a large discount, and the final bill was $1, 037, which we submitted to Samaritan as a Need. It was approved and then we waited a little over a month while Samaritan did the rest. They sent 10 members our info and prayer request. Those members wrote their monthly payment, and mailed it to our address (along with adorable cards and encouraging notes and prayers). Throughout that month, we received all 10 checks and marked that we received it on the Samaritan website. We deposited the checks into our account and payed off the medical bill. If someone did not send a check, Samaritan would be in charge of reaching out to that individual and fixing the missing funds. We paid zero dollars.
This past summer, I injured my shoulder pretty badly, right after Samaritan had to change their policies due to the rising increase of healthcare. Now, every medical need you are required to pay $400 and the rest is covered. A trip to urgent care, follow-up, xrays, physical therapy…the bill was quite high and we paid $400 even. From the stories I’ve heard from fellow members, even when the bill is 20k, they only pay $400 as their deductible as long as it’s all under one medical need like heart murmur, brain tumor, or pregnancy.
Recently, I had to call and ask questions about our plan because I was re-adding my husband. I didn’t have to wait very long for a customer service agent, the call was a million times better than calling larger providers, and at the end the lovely woman on the phone asked if there was something she could pray for in my life. At the time, a young mother was on my mind who was faced with challenges in life, so I brought it up, and the service agent prayed right there on the phone.
While my husband was using his work insurance, he had all of these co-pays each visit, bills that followed, and having to spend half the day on hold to connect with an agent.
If you are looking for insurance for the new year, I’d consider looking into healthshare – it does’t have to be Samaritan, there are dozens out there that are all similar.
Here are a few things to remember:
*HealthShare is not insurance. You are 100% responsible for your healthcare bills, viewed as a “cash payer” to the healthcare provider. You are in charge of negotiating to lower prices. Then, you are reimbursed by your HealthShare provider.
**HealthShare does not usually cover preventative healthcare like an annual checkups. This policy is in place to keep costs lower and helps encourage searching for a budget-friendly provider. It’s my only complaint about healthshare, but we’ve never had to pay a lot for preventative health. A good example would be a sports physical – a well-known hospital clinic can run upward of $400 for a simple physical, not including any labs. If you do a little research, you can find plenty of places that offer a sports physical for a fraction of the cost. We’d go to a reputable clinic that charges $49, and I’ve heard a walk-in sports physical at CVS is $69.
***Healthshare usually doesn’t cover prescriptions. I have a discount prescription card, and if I need medicine for an illness it’s not horribly expensive. If I had longterm health issues like diabetes, I would consider leaving a healthshare program. Though I feel this is my own personal opinion because I know there are several members who are going through cancer treatments who have stayed on healthshare.
****I have no network limits. As long as the medical provider is a real, licensed provider, you can go to them.
I hope this encourages you to do a little research on healthcare and healthshare
Here’s more information on the healthshare our family uses.
with love, Samantha