How We Have Affordable Health Care (In an Ever Changing World)

Affordable Health Care

It seems like the world of healthcare and insurance is changing daily to the point where it’s so confusing now it’s hard to get a good hold on what we need, what we can afford, and what is really beneficial to us. With big changes coming to this area of our lives after the beginning of the year it’s important to go over all your options and make the best choice for your family.

Just over a year ago we found out that with my husband’s new job he would not receive any insurance. (We could get a small discount on some insurance they offered but it was very expensive.) So we started looking into plans. Cobra was too high for us to afford and we weren’t interested in a super high deductible plan that really wouldn’t do us much good since we rarely visited the doctor.

I’d heard a recommendation from a friend to look into a sharing network. At that point I’d never heard of them before so I did a little research. A sharing network is a community of like minded individuals that help pay towards each other’s healthcare costs. That means each month, you don’t send money to a company or corporation, the money goes right to another individual that is paying a medical bill. It sounded like a pretty neat plan so we decided to dig into it even further and speak to some companies to get the exact details.

Each sharing network is slightly different for what they offer, and how much they are per month. They also may have slightly different regulations on who can join. I believe that none will cover pre-existing conditions. We are with Samaritan’s Ministries for a few reasons. Mainly because there is no deductible and the costs are a little lower than the others. For our home it costs us $235 per month for our part. Here’s how that works…

Each month we get the monthly newsletter in the mail with tips, news, and other info from our network. On the front page there is a name and an address of the individual we will be sending our check to that month along with how we can pray for them. Once we receive that we simply write the check and a note of encouragement and send it on to the individual to help them pay their bills.

Since we’ve had this coverage we’ve also had the chance to have help with our own bills. Early in 2013 I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis and 2 large endometriomas (benign tumors). I have to receive care every couple of months and I’ve been in the ER once as well for extreme pain. Under our plan, everything has been paid for by other members of our sharing network besides the initial $300. Not only is it amazing to have these bills paid for but usually with each check comes a letter of encouragement that someone else is thinking of you during your difficult time.

Something else we’ve discovered with being a “self pay” customer at clinics and pharmacies is that most of the time if you ask, you will be able to get a discount. We’ve been able to successfully get discounts at both doctor’s offices and on prescriptions simply by asking. There are several discount prescription cards you can sign up for. One thing we’ve found to be very beneficial with prescriptions is just to call around to different pharmacies and find out the price differences. Often larger discount stores like Sam’s Club and Costco offer discounts for you having a membership.

How do these sharing networks go along with the new Affordable Care Act? There is a section in the law that states that any healthcare sharing network that has been in operation since 1999 is exempt from the Affordable Care Act rules and regulations. That means that those involved in these networks do not have to receive any further coverage and they will not have to pay any fines for not having “real insurance”. (Note, there are only 4 organizations that qualify for this exemption: Samaritan’s Ministries, Christian Healthcare Ministries, Liberty Healthshare, and Christian Care.)

Even though it’s not traditional insurance, we’ve been doing well with this kind of plan. We also try and eat as healthy as possible and we use preventative care like chiropractors. We also purchased accident coverage (for a mere $30 a month) that covers any bigger accidents we might have like an ambulance ride, or if we would need to stay in a hospital, or even if we have a broken tooth (ask me how I know they cover that one! 🙂 ) It’s just a little backup. Someday our needs may change but this is what works for us for now. Plus we are happy with the price and being able to send our check each month to someone that really needs it.

Would this type of affordable health care work for everyone? No. Especially if you have quite a few pre-existing conditions that need to be covered. This is simply what works for us and I thought today I’d take the time to share it with our readers in case any of you are searching. Healthcare can be such a huge part of monthly expenses and we definitely know how hard it can be to come up with that monthly payment.

Last note….if you do decide to go with Samaritan’s Ministries we would be very blessed if you used our name (Merissa Alink) as a referral. That’s another great thing about them…if those that you refer join the network you get part of your payment taken off your bill! 🙂

Have you ever heard of a healthcare sharing network? If you are part of one, share your experiences with us below!

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*Note: This blog is not a place to discuss politics so please remember that when you comment. This is simply an article about insurance and helping you make the best decision for your family. Any rude or political comments will be removed. Please see our Comment policy for more info.

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39 Comments

  1. I also use a cost-sharing program and love it. You can select your own doctors which helps to save overall! I use Christian Healthcare Ministries because they allowed Pre-existing conditions. CHM has been a blessing for us!

  2. This sounds very interesting indeed. We are pretty healthy & quite honestly only go to doctors for annual checkups. Now my son did break his leg, but that was extremely rare and after playing football for 4 years! I will definitely look into this & talk to my husband! Yes even our hospital have us a 50% discount on my sons bills bc we do not have insurance.

      1. I Know right..I was thankful for that..I have requested information from 3 of the ones you listed and read up on the other..Thank you so much for this information.

  3. Thank you for this information! I did not know plans like this existed and because of circumstances not to be named we were willing to pay the penalty or fine rather than what we believed to be the only other option. Thank you very much!

  4. We use Samaritan and love it! When I started staying home once we had children we lost our insurance coverage. It was a blessings in disguise because we are so happy with our current healthcare situation. We have discussed it and even if, in the future, my husband gets health insurance we will remain with Samaritan as we love their philosophy and when you are ill it is so wonderful to get letters full of prayers and encouragement. It has been a truly wonderful experience for us!

  5. I think this is a wonderful idea. And you touched on something that most people don’t know-the fact that many doctors and hospitals will give a discount for paying the full amount by cash or check. It never hurts to ask, we typically can get 10-20% off that way!

  6. Merissa, great post about Samaritan. We are also members, and absolutely love it. We were offered a chance to go back to our old insurance plan, but we’re sticking with Samaritan because it’s actually so much better than insurance; cheaper, no expensive co-pay, and the process of sending shares direct to other members is just so fulfilling and heartwarming. We love it! 🙂
    Oh, for prescription drugs we also use goodrx.com, which has shown to be even cheaper than our old copay on a couple of meds. It’s free, just a coupon site or app we can use.

  7. question, why would you need accident coverage for ambulances and hospital stays? Samaritan covers all that. Is it like an Aflac thing for other bills like your mortgage or groceries?

    1. It’s more for the big things since Samaritan’s only covers up to $250k. It’s not that I’m worried about it but the coverage is so cheap that we just have it for back up. The other nice thing is that if we would need a smaller treatment (chiro, massage, ect) from an accident that was under $300, they would cover that.

      1. Ok, I see. Thanks for clarifying. Don’t forget about Samaritan’s Save to Share for the bigger needs (the ones above $250,000). Their largest need covered to date is $1.5 million, bills reduced to $700k, all $700k fully paid for thanks to Save to Share. Your save to share rate would be $266 to put back in savings each year (as a couple), and not all of it is guaranteed to be spent. You keep it until it is needed (which is awesome). $266/12 is less than the $30/month you spend now. 🙂 This month we were asked to spend 47 cents out of our Save to Share set aside amount (ours is $399/yr as a family rate). Such a small amount make me laugh, but we gladly did it.

  8. How is the taxability of the income handled? Does it simply fall under “a gift” clause in for income tax purposes? Also, is your monthly share tax deductible?

    Thanks!

    1. I do not believe that your monthly share is tax deductible but that would be a question that each individual sharing network would have to answer. It would be worth a phone call to find out.

    2. The monthly share is only tax deductible if you live in Missouri (so far). Shares received for a need are not taxed, they are classified as gifts.

  9. Hi there, thanks for sharing this info! I was recently laid off and am trying to investigate all options. It sounds like a lot of these organizations may be faith-based. Do you know of any that are not faith-based? Maybe Liberty Health Share?

    1. I personally do not but I haven’t looked to far in to them so there may be. Just make sure if you find one that it’s considered “exempt” otherwise you would still have to find other insurance.

  10. Thank you so much for the info. My husband and I will be retiring soon and were wondering what to do about insurance . Do you know if their is an age limit?

    Thank you and blessings to you 🙂

  11. Oh goodness we have been in Samaritans Ministries for over a year now, and have just loved it!!! It is truly the one check we look forward to sending off! Their customer service is incredible and they will even pray with you and help you any way they can. It is one way we can definitely make our dollars count for something in such a great way. Thanks for writing about it.

  12. Thanks for posting this! It’s something I’ve been seriously considering, especially when it looked like my husband would contact for his current job and have to deal with his own insurance. It’s so good to hear another personal experience with medical sharing.

  13. Thank you so much for sharing this information! I have never heard of such a thing since my job has always provided insurance for me. However, with some major life changes soon to be occurring and my cost of health insurance going to almost triple, this looks like it is worth investigating. What perfect timing for me! I have learned something new and will look into it!

  14. I live on the east coast. My daughter and husband are in the process of qualifying for a share network here. I don’t have this coverage but I believe whole heartily in this care. This is the way the Christ intended for us to take care of each other when in need. I love following your blog Merissa

  15. Hi Merissa, Thanks so much for your post! I hope you have a blessed day. ~Jaclyn @ Samaritan Ministries

  16. We also have Samaritan’s. Your monthly share is quite a lot lower than ours. I thought the monthly share was now $370?

  17. Hi, its pleasant article regarding media print, we all understand media is a enormous source of information.

  18. We have Samaritan Ministries as well and are very pleased thus far 🙂 Do you mind to share the “accident insurance” you spoke of? We would be very interested in that. Thank you and love your site!

  19. Wow! Thanks so much for taking the time to put this together and share your experience. My husband’s ultimate goal is to become self employed, but there is always the ever looming question of insurance. It’s wonderful to know about this option. You’re blog is always such a blessing to us and a wealth of information. May God bless you and your family! 🙂

  20. Wow this type of sharing plan sounds really interesting. I currently have state health insurance but if/when that changes I’m definitely going to look into this more. It sounds so connected and socially ethical compared to big insurance companies. I’ll try to remember to mention you as the referral if I ever change to Samaritan Ministries.

  21. Odd question – but do you know of any pet health insurance options like this? We currently pay well over $200 a month in pet insurance for our dogs. We have Boxers that are very prone to cancer, so pet insurance feels like a necessity for our four-legged family. 🙂

  22. Hi! Just found this post. My husband and I are members of Samaritan. I haven’t yet had to publish a need, but I’m having continuing symom’s of endometriosis, and I need to get it checked out. Since I’m new to Samaritan, I’ve been worried about how it would be handled. Are you satisfied with your experience in being treated for endometriosis as far as Samaritan is concerned? Any words of advice? Thank-you, and God bless! 🙂

    1. Hi Katie, since I’ve never “officially” been diagnosed with endo (through a laparoscopy) it was never an issue with them or with Medi-Share who we have switched over to now.