Home frugal living/saving money He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother–Alternative to Insurance

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother–Alternative to Insurance

by Kelly Crawford

I don’t know about you, but we have had a serious aversion to health insurance for a long time. It feels so much like a trap–can’t live with it, can’t live without it. Especially with Obama Care, prices can sky rocket for some families.

But what to do?

So when we found out last week that our major insurance dropped us because we were late paying our premium, I had mixed emotions between panic (we are having a baby in July) and a deep sense of “this was supposed to happen“.

(Insurance is even more complicated for people like us who are self-employed.)

The first blessing to occur was a call to my baby doctor’s office. One must know that I am a terrible OB patient. I hardly ever go in for the pre-natal stuff. I just don’t see the point. I believe I’ll know if something is wrong, and most things that would go wrong couldn’t be avoided anyway. I don’t do the glucose test or the screening test, etc., and to find sitters for the children, then drive an hour, wait another 30 minutes only to sit on a table and say, “No, I can’t think of any questions”…seems absurd, at best, to me. (I’m not suggesting if you go to regular prenatal visits it’s absurd…that’s just a personal thing for me.)

My doctor knows this about me and takes it pretty well. So when I told him about our insurance I basically asked him what would happen if I just showed up at the hospital when I’m in labor. He thought that was funny and said, “Kelly, you are so low risk, and you don’t come in when I insist anyway…tell ya what…come see me another time or two before delivery and I won’t charge you.” (Maternity costs consists of two separate charges: the OB’s prenatal fee, and the hospital’s delivery fee.)

I protested that I wanted to pay for any services he offered and he then agreed to charge me $1 per visit 😉

How’s that for a doctor? Kudos to my favorite OB.

The next blessing came when we calculated that it will actually be cheaper for us to pay for the delivery out-of-pocket than our premiums for the nine months. Considerably less. You can’t believe the difference in charges when you pay as a non-insured patient vs. insured. I believe the difference in a standard hospital delivery is over $8,000. That is, of course, because the insurance companies will only pay a fraction of charges, so the charges must be inflated for the hospital to receive anything??? So ridiculous.

Then, being without insurance caused us to revisit our options…first thought was to get the lowest premiums possible for catastrophic coverage. Still, you’re looking at paying over $200/month and never realizing any benefits unless there is a major catastrophe.

So, we’ve decided to join Samaritan Ministries and we both feel so much peace about it–excitement really. For one, we can pay virtually the same monthly amount as a catastrophic plan and still be covered for basic medical expenses (anything over $300).

But better than that, it’s such a biblical way of approaching the physical needs in the body of Christ! It may not be the best option for everyone, but for us, who don’t have many regular medical expenses, it makes perfect sense.

“At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,” 2 Corinthians 8:14

If you don’t know about them, they are not an insurance company. The way it works is you file as a non-insured patient. (As I said, your bills are much lower than they would charge an insurance company.)

Then, you send your bills (“needs”) to be “published”. The Samaritan group disperses the expenses among as people as needed to cover them, and those people send the money directly to you! When it’s their turn, they receive the benefit. How cool is that?

Each member/family pays a certain monthly “share” to a different person each month. So you always pay the same amount and it goes directly to the person who needs it. By the way, for our family, it’s less than $300 a month.

I just wanted to share these details because I think it is such a great option for people who are fed up with insurance company woes and who want to approach handling medical needs from a more biblical light.

As I said, not an option for everyone, but a good option to consider. This may be new to no one, but if you haven’t heard of it, check into it. Samaritan Ministries

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Mrs. Reverend Doctor February 28, 2009 - 1:52 pm

We are clergy and for tax purposes are considered “self employed” even though our church is required to pay the denominations insurance premium of almost 9k a year. They are also required to pay the same amount into our retirement, which of course we get to pay taxes on both of those! Anyway, at my home birth my midwife charges around 7k if you have insurance and if you are paying all out of pocket right around 900 if it’s paid before delivery and a little more if you arrange payment, plus she came to my house for all my prenatal appointments.

mrshester February 28, 2009 - 2:44 pm

What a wonderful ministry! That definitely sounds like a blessing to me. Imagine that, churches meeting the needs instead of relying on the government. What a concept! 😉

Sandy February 28, 2009 - 2:59 pm

I am always surprised when our doctor gives us a discount because we don’t have insurance. Cash patients get an automatic deduction and sometimes they don’t charge me at all for small services. They’ve also given us samples of medication that were enough for the entire treatment. I’m appreciate the discount, but I always wonder why that isn’t the price being charged to everyone. Why do people who pay for insurance get charged more? Something is not right. My husband is self-employed too, so insurance is hard for us. I like having control over who I see and what my treatment options are, though, without having to get permission from the insurance company. A company I already paid money to! Yep, it’s a mess.

Daniel's Helpmeet February 28, 2009 - 3:00 pm

You won’t be sorry! We are not part of Samaritan, but know the men who run it. They have such a heart for helping families.

Leslie February 28, 2009 - 4:37 pm


I think it is a great idea!

Would Samaritan work for a family like ours? We have 3 severe asthmatics and 1 low risk asthmatic who take prescribed maintenance medications daily. The drug costs kill us! We would love to do Samaritan, but we have been concerned that the drug costs would eat us alive. We contacted Costco Pharmacy which has the cheapest costs without insurance, and we were still talking $724 a month. (A lot asthma maintenance drugs are not generic.)

If you run across someone who has a similar situation and uses Samaritan, I would love to talk with them if they would be willing to share.

I think your doctor sounds terrrrrrrific! Praise the LORD for HIS blessings on your family, Kelly!

Word Warrior February 28, 2009 - 5:24 pm


I know they have some limitations on pre-existing conditions, but I would call them and ask specifically what it would look like for your family–it couldn’t hurt to check!

Tara February 28, 2009 - 5:30 pm

Thank you so much for postting about this! My husband was laid of 8 days ago and COBRA is going to be $1000 a month(which is just simply insane) for our family of 5, soon be 6.

Blessings to you and your Family,

Michelle February 28, 2009 - 6:17 pm

I looked into Samaratin briefly, but hubby is leaning more toward a medical savings account through state farm.
Have you considered a homebirth with a midwife? Midwives are far cheaper than the hospital would charge you out of pocket for a birth. And if you’re already low risk, it would (IMO) be one of the safest things you could do.

Anonymous February 28, 2009 - 6:59 pm


I was thinking we were about the same age …I would be considered high risk which is any lady over 35?

You have been very blessed with a wonderful doctor.

My husband and I know we would refuse all the older age mom tests…I am sure my doctor would try to push them on us.

But we don’t have to worry about that Yet!


Kim M. February 28, 2009 - 8:39 pm

That’s awesome Kelly!

Marcie March 1, 2009 - 11:16 am

One of the reasons insured patients costs are higher is that it takes a lot of people to process all those claims. The doctors office has to hire them, pay their employment taxes, benefits etc., plus wait on payment from the insurance company. When you pay, they receive immediate payment and save them money on employee expenses.:)
Although we do not have Samaritan Purse at this time, we do hope to move to them in the future. I really like the idea of not having my insurance premiums going to pay for things like abortions, and other consequences to lifestyle issues that I would never give money to support.
What a wonderful, understanding doctor you have, Kelly.

Allison March 1, 2009 - 12:00 pm

We LOVE Samaritan Ministries! Have had 2 babies in the hospital with them. They are great! Such a wonderful way to pay for health care.

Rina March 1, 2009 - 12:29 pm

Thank you so much for this link! Insurance really bothers us, too, and this seems like such a better way! I’m going to show it to my husband later this week… thank you so much!

Feminine Pursuits March 1, 2009 - 5:12 pm

We’ve been using Samaritan Ministries now for over four years and cannot say enough good things about it. We have had three homebirths fully covered, and three emergency room visits. There has been no hassle whatsoever, and the people that work at Samaritan are amazingly helpful. You won’t be sorry about your decision Kelly, Samaritan Ministries has truly blessed our family.

Shyla March 1, 2009 - 9:48 pm

Before I got to the end of your post, I was going to suggest Samaritan. We’ve had them for almost nine years and it has been a huge blessing to our family. We’ve had four of our six children while being with them, are currently expecting our seventh, and they are wonderful!

To respond to the lady with the asthmatic children, the only downside to SM is they don’t cover pre-existing conditions. I also have asthma, so anything asthma related is not covered. For me, it doesn’t seem as serious as in her family, so that would be something to consider. She should look into buying her meds online, though. You can often find them much cheaper.

Leslie March 1, 2009 - 10:33 pm


I have put in a request for some info from Samaritan as Kelly suggested. We’ll see what comes out of it.

Where do you order your meds online? Do you have a drug or discount card?

Thanks for commenting on Kelly’s blog regarding our asthma concerns w/Samaritan. We have really been checking our insurance options out, but our preexisting condition of asthma sure puts a spin on it.

Thanks again.

Leslie March 2, 2009 - 1:53 pm

Hi Kelly,
I did take your advice and checked with Samaritan. What a great company! The fella I communicated with was so kind. However,our family probably won’t be able to benefit too much b/c of our need for maintenance drugs for asthma.

He said, “Because we’re not an insurance company, no one is ever disqualified from joining based on health. That being said, anything related to asthma (including prescriptions) would not be publishable (or shared) under our regular guidelines. Just so you know, long term prescriptions (even if not pre-existing) are not shared under the guidelines either. I’m sorry this isn’t better news. If you have other questions or we can help in any way, please let us know.”

Anthony Hopp | Member Development
Samaritan Ministries | 877-764-2426 x.108
arhopp@smchcn.net | http://www.samaritanministries.org

I am so glad your family can use this terrific ministry! Even though we cannot benefit from it, we would not hesitate to recommend them to others.

I just wanted to print the outcome just in case some of your readers have similar conditions and were wondering.

Leslie March 2, 2009 - 3:39 pm

PS Mr Hopp at Samaritan noted that “anything related to asthma is not publishable” refers to the fact that it is pre-existing for our family. I felt I should clarify that statement.

Word Warrior March 2, 2009 - 3:55 pm


I’m sure that info was helpful to some reading–I wish it would work for your family thought!

I called him too and found out that if we start paying our shares this month, everything we pay until our delivery can be reimbursed–which will be more than half our hospital expense!

This baby will end up costing barely over $1000 with no insurance!

Leslie March 2, 2009 - 4:33 pm

Oh Kelly…..I think it is wonderful for you all! What a blessing!

One interesting thing Mr. Hopp shared is that Samaritan did receive a discount drug card from ProvNet Strategies. The website is www. provnetstrategies.com

I was really impressed with the info on the drug assistance information from certain pharmaceutical companies ProvNet could help clients enroll in. (This is not related to Samaritan. They just offer the discount card through this place.) You know, if the prescription assistance could work then Samaritan WOULD be ok for us. Unfortunately, the discount on the drug card that Samaritan offered wasn’t a significant drop from the $724 per month med costs for all 4 of us through Costco.

That is all the info I gained….

Just know that we are praying for you, Kelly, here in VA! I consider you a kindred heart and e-friend!

Kim from Canada March 3, 2009 - 12:06 pm

Being Canadian, our medical system works much differently. However, the corruption and greed is still present.

We had a young couple join our church several years ago. He was Canadian and she was American – therefore, she had no medical coverage. When she became pregnant, they believed her Canadian status would come into effect prior to the birth and were not concerned about the money. When she miscarried, the bill from the hospital emergency visit was astronomical!

As a church family, we paid the bill without hesitation. Our pastor lead the way in showing us that was what the local church was supposed be about. I am very thankful for good leadership and I am very humbled by the love in our church.

Lori March 4, 2009 - 10:10 am

Sandy, sorry this is so after the fact, but MDs charge higher for non-insured because the ins co. will always haggle them down. Now, this often happens in advance, and the agreement is sent in contract, sometimes it happens after the billing. So MDs set the price table high to take haggling into account. My prev. pediatritian gave me a 15% discount, but when I got ins. I found out that they had been getting fairly well paid by me. We had to go back to no ins for a while, and got an invoice from the ins -pre haggled, then denied. The pediatritian charged us $20 dollars for the pirate eye patch used in an eye exam! The kind of patch that comes as part of a pirate kit from the dollar store! The ins co had haggled the price down to $.15. Yep. So we said we’d only pay what the ins co had arranged. Ped agreed. Still. $20 for an eye patch. This sort of thing goes on all the time. At the hospital, you (or ins) will be billed probably $10 for the bulb syringe used to de-clog your newborns nose. The same bulb that you can get at the drugstore for $.99.

Michelle, if I may, I recommend an HSA in conjunction with SM.

Please keep in mind that neither SM nor Medishare are insured. So if one month half the people have finantial problems and don’t send in their money, that will be reflected in the money you get (or not) for sharing, despite your full contribution. Just a heads up. I guess it’s another reason to keep our nation’s finantial situation in prayer.


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