There is a silver lining to the phone call that I received last Thursday.
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 ehealthinsurance.com.
[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?