Are you curious what sharing a large need, such as brain cancer, looks like as an uninsured member of a health care sharing ministry? If you don’t already know what a health care sharing ministry is, you can read the Samaritan Ministries FAQs. Since it is not insurance, we generally deal with our healthcare providers as cash pay or self pay. This is our Samaritan Ministries review of our experiences (so far) sharing my husband’s brain cancer medical bills.
My husband has been self-employed since 2013.
It was difficult finding good health insurance options for him, especially since the ACA was passed. Before that, he had a decent individual plan with a $1000 deductible for around $150 per month. A plan with similar benefits now costs more than $600.
As an electrical engineer, I make just enough too much for us not to qualify for any ACA tax credits. I work for a small business, so insuring him through my work is expensive.
Sometime in the summer of 2015, I saw an advertisement for a healthcare sharing ministry. I was intrigued by this “non-insurance” alternative concept to traditional insurance. Researching further, I found that there were 4-5 organizations that had been around long enough to qualify for the ACA exemption.
As I researched, I kept coming back to an organization called CMF Curo, which is a Catholic member organization of Samaritan Ministries. Since we are Catholic, I felt the extra layer of protection CMF Curo offered was worth the slightly additional cost. By joining CMF Curo, you are effectively joining both CMF Curo and Samaritan Ministries.
Needs are administered by Samaritan Ministries, so whichever organization you join, your experiences will be similar ours. My family joined CMF Curo and Samaritan Ministries on December 1, 2015.
Sharing Our Need With Samaritan Ministries
My husband was diagnosed 7 months ago today with Glioblastoma, an aggressive brain cancer. You can read more about our journey on My Husband’s Glioblastoma page.
Samaritan Ministries has been with us ever step of the way. I called them after his first CT scan that came back clean. I called while we were in the hospital and they said there weren’t going to be any problems covering his hospital stay and brain surgery. The next week, I called again to ask if they would cover chemo drugs (they do, even though most drugs are not).
How Much Does Brain Cancer Cost Without Insurance?
To date we have submitted 40 bills representing approximately $200,000. We have negotiated, on average, 35% discounts on those bills. So far we have received and cashed 277 checks from other Samaritan Ministries members. Almost everyone of those 277 families included a card or note of encouragement and prayer.
This does not include his chemo drugs (name brand Temodar), as our pharmacist got us approved for free chemo through the manufacturer’s patient assistance program (estimated $12,000 per month value). Thank you, Merck!
This does not include his Novocure Optune device, which is also being covered in full by the manufacturer’s patient assistance program ($21,000 per month list value). Thank you, Novocure!
The only other medical expenses we have not shared with Samaritan Ministries are a few prescriptions. He takes antibiotics every weekend to prevent opportunistic infections and he takes an anti-seizure medicine as a preventative measure due to the tumor’s location. Together these are less than $30 per month by using the discounts available with our Sams Club membership.
My Samaritan Ministries Review
- Product: Samaritan Ministries
- Website URL: SamaritanMinistries.org/
- If you decide to join based on this review, please note Kraston and Amanda Colby of Oklahoma as your referral. We will receive a small one-time referral fee.
- Price: $180 – $495 per month depending on family size.
- Owner: Samaritan Ministries International
- My Rating: 4.9 out of 5
- Target Audience: Christians interested in an alternative to traditional health insurance.
Reasons Why You Should Join Samaritan Ministries
If you are young and healthy, with zero health problems, this is almost a no-brainer situation. You never know what medical issue may come along next year or even next month, so take advantage of joining now. It is likely cheaper than your insurance.
If you have some health issues, but the are well-controlled for the past year, you may not be considered to have a pre-existing condition. Do call and verify before you sign up.
Samaritan Ministries is a reasonably pleasant way to handle medical issues. Depending on how much they deal with uninsured patients, it may require a little bit more conversation with your medical providers.
Reasons Why You Might Not Be Interested in Joining Samaritan Ministries
If you don’t meet all of the membership requirements, unfortunately you would not be allowed to join.
If you have many expensive preexisting conditions, you will need to do the math for your situation. Expenses for preexisting conditions are shared via a Special Prayer Needs list and some members may donate to help with those needs which are not normally publishable. There are many people with preexisting conditions who still find Samaritan Ministries to be more affordable than the exorbitant deductibles of the Bronze level plans.
Most Christians will qualify for membership. The following are the first 7 membership requirements from the guidelines (see the guidelines for full requirements):
- Be a professing Christian according to Biblical principles.
- Be in agreement with the member statement of faith. Also See this CMF Curo letter for comments on the Catholic interpretation of the Samaritan Ministries statement of faith.
- Attend a Christian church regularly (at least three out of four weeks per month that your health or weather permits).
- Believe that you are to bear one another’s burdens as taught in the Bible.
- Agree to: not abuse any legal or prescribed substance, abstain totally from illegal drugs and recreational use of marijuana, and abstain from tobacco use (a rare celebratory cigar or pipe, e.g. at the birth of a baby, is an allowed
- Choose option one or two regarding the use of alcohol.
- Option 1. Abstain totally from all beverages containing alcohol (wine used for communion only is an approved exception).
- Option 2. Limit consumption of alcohol to moderate amounts so as to never drink to drunkenness.
- Abstain from any sexual activity outside of traditional Biblical marriage as designed by God between one man and one woman.
I have contacted Samaritan Ministries via both phone and email. They have always been prompt and helpful. Whenever I have called them to start a need, they have always ended the call with a prayer, which has been very reassuring.
The current cost for my three or more person family is $495 for Samaritan Ministries (click to check the current cost for your family size) plus $84 for our CMF Curo membership.
We feel blessed beyond belief to have joined when we did. Cancer is not a pleasant addition to our family, but Samaritan Ministries has relieved a great deal of stress from our situation.
If you decide to join based on this review, please note Kraston and Amanda Colby of Oklahoma as your referral. We will receive a small one-time referral fee.
Thank you and have a blessed day.