Guest post from Joy @ Five J’s
Six years ago my husband and I had health insurance coverage through his work. But when the premiums started to rise, we realized we had to do something to save money because we were already struggling to stretch our dollars from week to week.
It was about this time I happened upon this post by Shaun Groves. Shaun’s son came down with a sudden illness that resulted in an enormous medical bill, and even though their family didn’t have insurance, their out-of-pocket costs for the entire bill was just $12! Needless to say, I was intrigued.
Shaun explained that they were members of a Christian health care sharing ministry called Samaritan. Samaritan isn’t insurance; instead a group of Christians share medical needs they have that exceed $300, and the members pay each others’ bills.
It sounded almost too good to be true, so I did a little investigating and talked to some current Samaritan members to find out whether it was a viable option for us. We determined it was, so in 2007 we cancelled our $500+/month insurance policy with a $3000 deductible and became members of Samaritan.
How Health Care Sharing with Samaritan Works
Each month Samaritan sends us the name and address of another Samaritan member and a summary of their medical need. We then write a check for our monthly share of $370, include a personal note, and send the money directly to the other member. This $370 ‘share’ is basically our monthly premium.
Concerning our own medical costs, we pay out of pocket for things like preventative visits, one-time doctor sick visits, and our ongoing prescriptions. But several times our medical bills for an illness or injury have exceeded the $300 threshold, so we submitted those needs to Samaritan members and the bills were paid directly by the membership.
One of these needs was an $80,000 hospital bill from when my daughter shattered her femur and had to undergo two surgeries and spent a total of seven days in the hospital. Samaritan negotiated discounts from several of the providers, saving thousands of dollars, and once we received all the checks from the Samaritan members, our out-of-pocket cost was less than $200. We paid for only her wheelchair rental and the purchase of a walker, definitely thousands of dollars less than if we still had regular medical insurance.
As I just mentioned, Samaritan is not insurance. But even with the changes to the health insurance industry under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), we are not worried. Members of recognized health sharing ministries like Samaritan are exempt from the individual mandate penalty, so even though we don’t technically have insurance, we aren’t subject to the penalty.
How We Save Money on Prescriptions
Not only do we save money on health care costs each month by being members of Samaritan, we’ve also discovered how to save money on prescriptions with GoodRX.com.
Since we have to pay for most of our prescriptions (Samaritan does cover some prescriptions following an illness or injury, but we still have to pay for some), we try to find the lowest cost for prescriptions.
GoodRX is a free website (as well as a mobile app) that allows me to look up both the cash-pay and GoodRX discount price for prescriptions in my area. It has allowed us to save quite a bit of money on our prescriptions, almost as if we had regular prescription coverage.
For example, I recently had to refill two medications for my daughter, and if I’d simply gone to Target as usual, I would have paid more than $60 for the two. But I logged on to GoodRX before requesting the refill and discovered I’d save quite a bit of money if I transferred the prescription to Wal-mart, which I did. I ended up paying just $20 for the prescriptions, and all it took was a little research on GoodRX.com.
Will This Work for You?
Being a member of Samaritan and going without typical health insurance coverage is definitely not for everyone, but it has been such a blessing for our family. So if you’re looking for ways to save money on your health care costs, you might want to investigate health care sharing ministries like Samaritan and discount prescription programs like GoodRX.com to see if they are a good fit for your own situation.
Joy Miller works from home with her husband, Jeff, doing book, graphic, and web design through their business Five J’s Design. She also runs a homeschooling website called Five J’s. In 2012, after being in debt for 18 years, Jeff and Joy became debt free (except for their house) and have recently begun a financial coaching business to help others discover financial freedom. Jeff & Joy live in Texas where they homeschool their three children, Jaden, Jerah, and Joely.