The Key Differences Between Medi-Share and Samaritan Ministries | My Loss is Your Gain

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There is a silver lining to the phone call that I received last Thursday.

The silver lining is that you, my readers, will now be able to learn the key differences between Medi-Share and Samaritan Ministries.

The phone message …

“Hi, Craig, this is xxxxxxxx with Christian Care Ministry.  Our records indicate that you moved to Montana and we do need to talk.  This is very, very important, so if you could give me a call back …”

After listening to the voicemail, I Googled “Medi-Share Montana”, and sure enough, Medi-Share is not legally able to operate in Montana.

I did call them back and was impressed by how kind, apologetic, and conscientious they were about the situation.  Apparently, when I updated my address online a few months ago, no one caught that I had a Montana address.  To their credit, they will be refunding me for the last two months worth of sharing.

With that one brief phone call, I joined the ranks of the uninsured.  Yes, only a few days after Obama and his crew made it illegal.

Since I’m blessed to have written about the topic of Christian medical sharing on this blog, I’d had a lot of people recommend Samaritan Ministries.  Changing insurance is about as fun as driving in a winter storm, so I wasn’t about to go out looking for other insurance when I was perfectly happy with what I had.  However, when I found myself and my family without insurance, the first thing I did was Google Samaritan Ministries, and I visited

[Background: I'm working with a church, and I'm the only minister on staff.  As such, I'm treated as self-employed and required to track down my own health insurance just as any other self-employed individual.]

The results didn’t surprise me.  We could enroll in Samaritan Ministries for about $400 per month or we could get traditional health insurance for $800 per month with a $6,000 individual deductible or $15,000 family deductible.  The idea of paying $15,000 between premiums and deductibles before our insurance company would kick in any cash didn’t sit well with me, so I was definitely intrigued by Samaritan Ministries.

Now my mission was to identify …

The Key Differences Between Medi-Share and Samaritan Ministries

I spent a good part of the afternoon on Thursday trying to determine the major differences between Medi-Share and Samaritan Ministries. Below, you’ll see what jumped out at me as the major differences.  I’m sure the list isn’t inclusive, so if you see anything missing, please add a comment below.

How the monthly ‘payments’ are made.  

With Medi-Share, all payments are sent to Medi-Share, and then they sort through all the claims and make payments.  However, with Samaritan Ministries, you pay your monthly amount directly to another family.  That’s right. Every month, you get a name and address of another participant, and your money is sent directly to that individual.  It’s for this reason Samaritan Ministries can operate in Montana, but not Medi-Share.

My first thought – that’s crazy.  What if somebody doesn’t pay?

If someone doesn’t pay, you simply contact Samaritan Ministries, and they arrange for someone else to make a payment.

What if there isn’t enough money?

If there isn’t the money to cover your expenses, then the amount is prorated.  If, for example, they only have 90% of what they need for all the claims, everyone will only get 90% of their claim.  The next month, if they have enough, they’ll send the other 10% of the claim.  If they are short three months in a  row, there will be a vote to increase the share amount per household.


Samaritan Ministries has a max payout of $250,000.  If a person wishes, they can enroll in a program called Save to Share where you’ll share people’s bills over $250,000 and they will help share yours as well.

Medi-Share doesn’t have any limits.


With Medi-Share, some medical organizations will directly bill Medi-Share and only send you a bill if there is anything left unpaid.

With Samaritan Ministries, you’ll need to cover the bill 100% out of pocket.  From there (once you get your bill), you’ll submit it. Payouts typically come about 3 months after you’ve received the bill.  This makes it important that you’ll be able to cash flow some of your expenses while you wait for the other member payments to arrive in the mail.  Again, the payments will come directly from other households so your checks will slowly come in over a period of a few weeks.

With Medi-Share, your out of pocket expenses depend on the annual household portions you select.

With Samaritan Ministries, you’ll be personally liable for any expense below $300.  Any expense above $300 will be eligible for sharing.

We typically operated with a high household portion ($3,750), so when I had my skin cancer surgery last year, I basically paid for the whole thing because the total cost came out around $3,500.  With Samaritan Ministries, I would have been eligible for sharing on that medical event.  As such, this could work out beneficially for us ????


We were definitely happy enough with Medi-Share that I wouldn’t have ever considered changing to another sharing program.  However, our situation necessitated the change.  In six months or so, I’ll be sure to write a follow-up post explaining more of the differences I’m discovering and how we personally feel about the experience.

Anyone else with either Medi-Share or Samaritan Ministries and you want to chime in on the differences?



  1. Karen says

    Hi Craig,

    We also recently joined Samaritan Ministries after we were notified that our insurance through my husbands work would be increasing by more than 50%. Fortunately we had lots of time to compare and shop around. I have worked in healthcare for over 20 years the last 9 of them as a billing manager for a physicians office. One of the things that I liked about Samaritan in contrast to traditional insurance is the $300 per event rather than a yearly deductible (think car insurance) for many people with high deductible HSA qualified plans that have expenses in the last few months of the year this can be a real problem. Some traditional insurance will carry a deductible over if the care is for the same problem but the high deductible plans are not allowed to do this. We also looked at Medi-Share and I was really drawn to Samaritan since you send your payment directly to the person with a need and they have a plan in someone doesn’t pay you aren’t left out in the cold. One of the things that I considered a drawback with Medi-Share was their alignment with the insurance wrap networks. This does make Medi-Share seem somewhat easier to use but the drawback is the pre-negotiated rates. With both plans you are technically a private pay patient but by filing the claim the provider is agreeing to the discount with that network. If the provider offers a prompt pay discount this could actually be more than the network discount. For example in our office we offer a 20% prompt pay discount to patients that pay in full at the time of service (no claim to file and no mailing statements) and the network discount for Medi-Share is 5%-10%. With both plans if you have any pre-existing conditions I would ask lots of questions before changing but if you are going from being uninsured to medical sharing you just have to remember that for those problems you are still basically uninsured.


    • says

      Thanks for the information. I found it especially helpful hearing about why you decided to join Samaritan Ministries. I found your discussion about pre-negotiate rates very interesting.

  2. John says


    My family have been members with Samaritan Ministries for over 10 years, and we’re very happy with our experience.

    There are a few areas I would say this comparison is a bit off on the Samaritan Ministries end of things, but one major issue is under the “payouts” section. Very few of the bills we’ve submitted to Samaritan Ministries have been payed before submission. We’ve typically submitted needs and had them shared before paying the bills.

    While this comparison is helpful, it doesn’t replace going to source documents or the individual ministries themselves for clarity on the facts.

    Best Regards!

    • says

      Thanks for helping bring some clarity to the subject. The reason I wrote the post is that sometimes listening to information in ‘plain English’ is easier than the legalese you read on some websites. But certainly verifying anything you read online is highly recommended.
      If I understand correctly (please correct me if this isn’t right) with Samaritan Ministries you need to submit your claim only after you get your bill from the doctor or medical institution. At that point it may take a month or two until you receive all the payments. If that isn’t correct please let me know how it works.

  3. Todd Fuller says

    Craig thanks for sharing, and keeping us informed. I will pray that change works out for you.

    Yeah, when we signed up for Medi-Share 2.0 four years ago, we had heard about it no longer being offered in Montana. I could be way off on this, so don’t quote me, but I think that I heard at that time, 10+ years prior, a pastor had signed up for Medi-Share, been approved for membership, then almost immediately had a heart attack. From what I heard, I believe the pastor did not disclose a pre-existing heart condition which should have been done on the application and so his heart attack was not make eligible for sharing; the pastor fought it, including getting MS thrown out of Montana- this was my understanding which could be wrong.

    …. It sounds like there are pros and cons to Samaritan’s just like there are with Medi-Share (more pros then cons in my opinion). One concern I have with Samaritan’s is if you had a major medical event, like being in a car wreck, or contracted a bug that kept you in the hospital for 30+ days.

    The concern here is that a 30 day hospital won’t cost any hospital more than a quarter of a million. But, there are many hospitals who will charge this and some well in excess of this to attempt to recoup the money lost from 2 out of 3 patients; those on some sort of government program, where the government tells the hospital how much they will pay – which can be either almost not enough, or, far from enough… In any of these events, the hospital will shift the costs to the shrinking pool of patients on “self-pay” or “insurance/private health plans.” With no contracted network blunting some of these costs/filtering for those on “self-pay”, then it might become “easier” for the hospital to charge a much higher bill initially, because there is no network holding contracted rates with the hospitals.

    Yes, most hospitals offer some sort of “self pay discount” but this discount comes off a full retail price (of some Greek thing called the ‘chargemaster’), leaving it up to the patient to figure out how “accurate” the charge really is.

    Maybe some Samaritans folks can chime in that have experienced five or six digit bills and how they were handled.

    • John says

      The $250,000 upper limit is within the basic sharing that Samaritan Ministries practices. Save to Share helps out with needs that exceed that amount, potentially up into the millions.

      Samaritan Ministries also pays a group to negotiate billings, also.

      Lord bless.

    • says

      I hear what your saying. The $250,000 limit caused the biggest hesitancy on our part. Based on my research there are advocate groups that will help negotiate hospital charges if that was absolutely necessary. This would be a way to ensure that we’re not overcharged just because it’s self pay.
      In our case we did opt for the extra sharing portion of Samaritan Ministries so we should be eligible for claims over $250,000.

      • Todd Fuller says

        Ok Craig and John sounds good. I had a work colleague who her and her family moved from insurance to Samaritan’s early this year, before they moved to Georgia.

    • Louisiana says

      I’m not sure about other states, but in Louisiana, medical expenses incurred due to a car accident are not paid for by your health insurance. They are covered by auto insurance. I know when I was contemplating health insurance the first major incident I considered was an auto accident. After finding this out, it did adjust my thinking. Hope this helps.

  4. John says


    Yes, you do actually have to have the bill and submit it to Samaritan Ministries in order to share the need.

    Lord bless!

  5. Belinda says

    Just curious, is anyone familiar with Christian Healthcare Ministries? How would you say they compare with the other two groups?

  6. Larry Ritter says

    I would also be interested in reading comments comparing Christian Health Ministries with Samaritan Ministries. Thank you.

  7. Debbie says

    We are a family of 7 and have not had insurance for 2 years. My husband is self-employed and the cost was just exorbitant, even though we are a very healthy family. We tend to favor natural health practices and rarely are our kids sick other than the routine, occasional colds, viruses, etc.
    However, I guess I still get nervous knowing that something could happen and we have nothing in place to help with the cost.
    I am happy to have found your blog as I am trying to work on better budgeting and money saving practices for our family.
    Thank you for reviewing the Samaritan Health Care. We have decided to go with that, as it seems to make more sense than a high-deductible health insurance plan that wouldn’t cover much anyways.
    Thanks and God bless,

  8. Lisa B says

    I prayed about the jump from a high-deductible HSA plan that I have had since 2009 into Samaritan Ministries. I felt pretty satisfied with what I read, but this article and thread of comments answered my remaining questions. I really appreciate the confirmation and am submitting my application to Samaritan Ministries immediately.
    I am supporting myself for the first time, after 32 years of marriage. My insurance bill increased by over $100 a month this year, after a similar increase last year. I have no health concerns and it is really frustrating to have a monthly bill of almost $700 when i almost never make a claim. My share with SM will be less than $200 a month! I love the Biblical model of bearing one another’s burdens and am looking forward to the opportunity to bless and pray for the people my monthly share will go to. I just wish I could keep my health savings account, but they have to be tied into an insurance policy.

    • says


      The really neat thing is that Samaritan’s right now is advocating for us as members of a healthcare sharing plan to be able to have HSA’s! We don’t know if it will happen for sure, but I can tell you they are hard at work on it for us who are members.


      • Margaret says

        Hi Jocelin!

        Do you know if members of these types of Christian insurance companies can have an HSA? (Health Savings Account)


  9. Elijah says

    It hurts when I believe most of what Christians do, yet I am denied entry into medishare because I have doubts about God and the bible and I cannot help that. this causes me to feel further disillusionment toward the church.

    • Marty says

      Elijah, I’m so sorry. You are very important! The problem w/ these models being for you is that they set it up to pray for each other in Christian Fellowship – which is wonderful. I understand your implication that the name Samaritan & Christian would imply finding a way to serve others through ministry to them. You bring up a valid point that I’m sure they considered & many would like to help with. I often find that those needing these programs are barely getting by when you add insurance costs so are serving each other in this manner. For you, you could look at the bright side, that this is how Christians are working together in their need AND praying for each other. Those outside of the church, use the other insurance plans. I’m thankful Christians are finding a way to use a biblical, compassionate model.

  10. Fred Balliet says

    I too would love to see a follow-up review and a comparison with Christian Healthcare Ministries. Thank you for this blog entry and the many helpful comments!

  11. Marisol says

    I too, would love to see an update. I am in the middle of trying to decide where to go as my daughter was literally just diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I need something that will cover her RX’s.

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  14. Joan says

    Karen, I also saw that chart, but notice that the information on it is from 2009 and it was last updated in 2010. It is really OLD… I would imagine that much of that has changed in 6 years.

  15. Laurie says

    I am looking for a medical sharing ministry that will allow for the freedom to see naturopaths or Drs/NPs who practice natural medicine and would prescribe herbal supplements primarily. It looks like Liberty Healthshare actually mentions Naturopathic Physicians in it’s guidelines. My family prefers taking natural supplements over artificial drugs with potentially harmful side affects when ever possible. I’m not sure about the other share ministries but would be interested to find out as we are comparing them before we decide who we will go with.

    • says

      Hi Laurie,

      Samaritan Ministries will cover Naturopathic Doctors and your supplements for 120 days as a result of their recommendations. We are part of Samaritan’s and really enjoy it. I’m a ND myself.


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  18. Vic Shocinski says

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  19. Jen Slater says

    This blog is very helpful. My company recently dumped their POS plan and left us with only a very high deductible option, so it’s basically like getting a pay cut given the additional out-of-pocket we now have to incur! So, I’m looking into a sharing plan. Question: do any of these plans cover Chiropractic care? Also, what about preventative care (ie: physicals, vaccinations)? Thanks!

    • says

      Samaritan Ministries covers chiropractic and massage therapy if they are related to a condition. For example, after I was pregnant with preeclampsia, I couldn’t keep alignment. They have covered up to 40 chiropractor and massage appointments. Preventative care is up to you; however, most doctors when understanding you are cash pay, give you a discount anywhere from 10-50% off “insurance prices”.

      • Jen Slater says

        Thanks for the reply!! So, if I am having neck/back issues, chiro care would be covered? Would my regular doctor need to refer me?

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  22. Ron says

    I have a question regarding coverage in retirement. Medishare offers a senior assist if you already have Medicare parts A and B. I was wondering how Samaritan ministries provides for medical coverage of retirees?

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  24. Nancy Roy says

    I recently joined Good Samaritan for me and my daughter after my husband passed away and we lost our insurance. after seeing what all my husband went through with cancer, it is scary for me not having traditional insurance. If someone went through cancer and I took out the additional save to share, is there a limit then over the $250,000 with good Samaritan. I am not sure I understand that part

  25. Jocelin Whitaker says

    Hi Nancy,

    I would recommend the save to share. With that coverage, there are no limits. Our daughter was born at 27 weeks gestation and spent 4 1/2 months in the NICU. We had $1.5 million in medical bills. They helped us negotiate discounts, and we received shares to cover it 100% with no problems!

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