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Friday, 30 September 2016 22:19

Ask Scott Dreyer: How is your medical cost-sharing community working out?

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This question came from a former student in Roanoke, VA, via Facebook:

Q. Hi Mr. Dreyer! Not sure if you remember me, but I was in your 9th grade Center for Humanities class at Patrick Henry High School. Anyway, last night my husband and I were looking into his company's health insurance options and were really discouraged by the big increase that will happen next year. We looked on the open market and the situation was no better. I remembered seeing one of your posts about Samaritan Ministries and really liked the idea. We did some research and now we're in the process of applying. Would you mind me asking if it's still working out for you and your family? It looks like you pay a monthly 'share'-- does it stay consistent or does it fluctuate based on the members' medical needs? Thank you so much for any advice you can give us. We listed you as our referral source. We are so thankful that something like this is even available!!

paying bills

A. Hello, and thanks for the GREAT questions, and THANKS for listing me as your referral!

1. Yes, belonging to the Samaritan Ministries' cost-sharing community is working out GREAT for our family, and has since we joined in 2010. Before I left teaching in public education to start my own school/business, the issue of healthcare was one of my biggest concerns; however, our membership in this organization has given us tremendous peace of mind regarding that area of our finances. For most of our large, non-routine healthcare expenses, we have have been able to get 100% reimbursed. There have been a few months when the needs were particularly large, and they were only able to reimburse on a prorated basis, of say 80-90%, but that has not created a problem for us.

For instance, two members of our family had some healthcare expenses over the summer that added up to more than US$3,000 (which in the US is--sadly--an easy figure to reach.) We paid the expenses themselves, after negotiating some discounts by paying promptly with cash, and I later submitted all the bills and paperwork to the Samaritan Ministries office. We are now scheduled to receive 100% of that back in December 2015, just in time for Christmas. (Please note, this is NOT health insurance, but a faith-based alternative for people who want to follow biblical principles for health and wellness. Not only do believers share their medical expenses, they also send encouraging notes and pray for each other! It's wonderful!)

2. Yes, we do pay a monthly "share," which for my wife and I, as well as our two sons who still live at home and are students, is only a bit over $400 per month. (When both of our daughters lived with us and were on the plan too, the "share" was only in the $300-range!) This amount is fixed, and the only "fluctuation" is a pleasant surprise-- every now and then, we get a letter telling us they took in MORE funds in the previous month than they spent, so for the next month, the share amount for all members goes DOWN some! So, maybe once or twice a year, the amount is cut by 5%, just for one month. How often do you get a letter from your insurance company or government agency saying, "We took in more money last month than we needed, so we're letting you keep more of your money this month"?

Over the five years we have belonged to this organization, I believe they have raised the "share" value twice or so, but that is only done by a vote by a three-fifths majority of the weighted votes of the members cast. By raising the monthly share every few years (and the increases have not been very large), that helps the organization continue to cover 100% of most expenses, rather than having to prorate much (which they do have to do, every few months, based on the amount of needs turned in.)

Recently my wife and I were having dinner with some friends, most of whom are Asian-Americans. They were telling us about the atrocious, expensive mess that healthcare expenses have become. (The "Affordable Care Act" (aka Obamacare) was promoted to the American people as a way to control healthcare costs, but when I hear stories like these, I realize that the promises and hype were misleading.) These friends are healthy, well-educated, professional people, having to pay over US$1,000 per month just for the policy for two people, with about a US$6,000 deductible, per-person, per year, to deal with. Simply put, they have to sink over $12,000 a YEAR into their policy, and if they get sick, sink another $6,000 into medical bills before their coverage kicks in. Yikes!

I am DEEPLY thankful for the good people at Samaritans Ministries. It has been a HUGE blessing for my family and me. If you want to know more, please read my blog post on this topic, hear others' stories, or contact me personally. Feel free to list me as a reference.

**************************** (Note: as a member of Samaritans Ministries, when I encourage a friend to enroll, the group gives my family a discount on an upcoming share to pay. So, if you enroll, Deborah and I would be GRATEFUL for you to list us as your references. Likewise, when you enroll and encourage friends to join, you too can enjoy such a discount. Lastly, the more families that join these groups, they more stable they will all be, helping us all.)

Read 21007 times Last modified on Monday, 14 August 2017 11:07
Scott Dreyer

A licensed teacher in the US state of Virginia since 1987, Scott Dreyer has been helping Chinese speakers improve their English since 1989. Dreyer lived in Taiwan from 1989-1999 where he learned Mandarin, met his wife, started his family, and realized he loved working with Chinese students. He became an award-winning author and started teaching ESL online in 2008. Dreyer and his wife and their four adult children make their home in the beautiful Roanoke Valley in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.

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