I May or May Not Be Pleased with My Current Insurance Plan

My healthcare provider is not a traditional insurance company. We belong to an organization that helps members share the cost of healthcare with one another. In very simple terms, when someone gets sick, the others who belong to the organization send them money to pay their medical bills.

If you ask me if I am pleased with this arrangement, my answer right now is “yes” and “I don’t know.” I am very pleased that each month I send off less than half the amount I was paying for insurance before. The “I don’t know” part is because I have not had any medical bills since I have been a member so I don’t have any experience of how well it works.

Every month we receive notice of an individual or family that has a need and the amount we should send. We write out a check and send it directly to the person with the need. It seems to work. There are more than 20,000 families involved with this organization. There are a few rules but it is quite simple. I am expected to pay for my own costs if they are less than $300 and members are expected to be active in church and not abusers of drugs or alcohol. Easy enough for me.

Certainly I like the lower cost for health insurance, but I also like the plan because it seems to be consistent with what the early church did in the Book of Acts. We are sharing what we have to take care of those who have a need. It is a very organized way of carrying one another’s burdens. That seems to be a Christ-like thing.

The leaders of this organization (they do have a Board of Directors and a staff) are not always in agreement with my political ideas. I have gleaned this from reading some of the inserts they send with each month’s newsletter. However, that is really not a problem for me. I’m fine with people who don’t agree with me on everything. In fact, I often say that I don’t even agree with myself on everything. We are all striving for the same goal of helping one another, which supersedes political conformity in my mind.

It would be a very lonely world if I could only interact with those who view the world with the same perspective. To be honest, I like the challenge of a good debate about politics, or religion, or theology, or sports. I just don’t see any need to be mean or angry toward those who disagree. Learn to think logically, develop some communication skills, and join the debate. Just be kind.

Last month, in addition to the name of the family that needed help with their medical bills, I received an email about another matter. They were asking me to give financial support to a Kickstarter campaign for a documentary film. According to the film’s trailer it is essentially a call to repeal the Affordable Care Act because it calls for government interference in our healthcare. Apparently it will be a catastrophe for all us to put our money together and distribute it to those who have needs (although that is NOT what the Affordable Care Act is all about).

It struck me as odd when I read this email that what they are against is exactly what they are doing. Each month we all pool our resources and share with those who have a need. If the best approach to providing good healthcare is for everyone to share the costs so that everyone can benefit, it seems a bit ironic that we would openly oppose those who advocate this approach.

I think this is an example of what happens to most of us. We choose a side and then blindly support that side without giving much thought to the specific issues. If I am going to side with a political party then I must support everything they stand for, sometimes even finding myself speaking against something I actually think might be good.

That is what I think happened with my health insurance providers. They have aligned themselves politically with a particular party. When that party takes a strong position, they felt it necessary to help out, even when it seemed contradictory to their beliefs. If it works for 20,000 Christian families to join together and help one another, there should be some merit in 300 million Americans doing the same thing. The logical position for this group would be to advocate for completely pooling our money together and taking care of one another.

Now, I’m not saying that is what we should do. All I am doing is pointing out how difficult it is to be consistent when we give all our allegiance to one group. No one (even political parties) is right on everything. It is possible to be wrong on everything, but that is probably not the case with America’s political parties. Both sides consist of good people and bad people, selfish people and generous people, intelligent people and idiots. We need to get rid of the mentality of choosing a side and sticking with it regardless of right or wrong.

It is said that sports fans don’t cheer for athletes, we cheer for laundry. In other words, we root for the athletes wearing our team’s uniform. Once that athlete switches teams we can easily root for their failure. For several years I wanted Josh Hamilton to hit a home run every at bat. Then he switched teams, said some unflattering things about my team, and I found myself hoping he would strike out every time he batted. That’s fine for a sports fan.

However, it is not a good approach in any other arena. In real life it is important that we cheer for the person not the uniform they are wearing. Helping people pay their medical bills should be more important than supporting a political position or party. It is fine to take the position that government helping people is not the best approach, but make sure you make your case while you are doing everything you can to help those same people.



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6 responses to “I May or May Not Be Pleased with My Current Insurance Plan

  1. There are plenty of companies and organizations that contribute to various political action committees whom I have serious disagreements with but that doesn’t stop me from doing business with them.

    I am familiar with the type of medical coverage you have but have never used it. I tried once to join and it seems I was denied for a health reason, but that was many years ago.

    The question is this: Are you comfortable with the coverage? If so, then stick with it. If not, then certainly look around, and with ACA, you can seek coverage there. But it will be a lot more expensive than you’re paying now, I assure you of that. But you may qualify for a subsidy to help pay the premium. And, this only works for those under age 65. If you are over 65 or disabled, then Medicare and a supplement, along with Part A and B, as well as D are worth a look.

    I, too, like what you currently have, Terry. It does fit into what Acts is all about. Just realize, as I’m sure you do, that parts of Christianity have been hijacked by the political right wing. Thus, this type of coverage you have sought exemption from some of the ACA provisions, and they were granted those exemptions. But they are still free to express their political opinions. Many conservatives stay away from AARP for the very same reason.

  2. Dave

    I know the company and have met and had conversation with leaders at this organization – Samaritan Ministries. No point in not naming them if you are going to call them onto your carpet for an example of something.

    I submit that you need to make contact with the management at this organization before you make the leap in the assumption that you made. They, from my direct knowledge, would take major exception with what you have said about them. Yes they are supporting the documentary’s efforts to raise money but “They have [NOT] aligned themselves politically with a particular party.” You are completely and totally mistaken in this. They are supporting a Biblical Worldview with their pursuit of God and God’s will for living life on this earth in these times.

    Your assessment that the documentary takes exception with Obamacare or as you were careful to say the Affordable Health Act, because it models the Samaritan Ministry’s model is also completely incorrect. I have heard a talk from the directory/creator of this documentary and have as well had personal conversation with him. As you said the ACA is not about an Acts type group of people coming together. It is something else entirely and that is what the creators of this documentary object to.

    There are churches and organizations of all types that have done what you describe of sticking with an organization gone way too far. I agree with that aspect of you blog. However, Samaritan Ministries is not one of those organizations and this needed to be called out.

    Another point. Samaritan Ministries does not provide insurance. They provide medical cost sharing. An entirely different kettle of fish. They take no responsibility for paying your medical bills or anyone else’s. Big difference here too. This may seem nit-picky but it is important to say what things are when talking about them.

    I am glad to hear that you like their service. I too want to use it but through work, for now, have access to a medical savings account that provides less costly coverage for more coverage. I am thinking of going to them anyway because of the Biblical example and that God call us out to live differently from the world. May do that soon.

    • I did send them an email expressing these same sentiments but got no response. My big concern was that they were using funds I provide to support the ministry and a mailing list of members to advocate for a political position. Not sure that is the purpose of a “ministry.” I think it is fine to take political positions, but do it with your own resources. This is the same reason I don’t think churches should endorse politicians or political positions. That is not the purpose of the church or a Christian ministry.

      • Dave

        Christians are supposed to be involved in the political process and have Biblical Worldviews on this. Given this just how do we learn these things if not from our church elders and teachers?

        An organization that works to provide you and others with an affordable alternative to traditional or Obamacare options shouldn’t be involved in the political process? They would have ceased to exist we’re they not involved because they had to petition Obamacare for an allowance to continue to exist under this Socialistic and unconstitutional law.

        So their involvement in politics is the only reason that you can participate in their Biblically based solution to sharing healthcare costs.

        Also, once you agree to participate and give money to them it is their money and they are using it as they are lead by God to do. They are not reaching into your pocket to spend your money.

  3. I certainly believe Christians should be involved in the political process, however I have problems with ministries and churches using resources, given for ministry, to provide support for political issues. What if your church decided to provide classrooms and training for those who want to assist people in signing up for the new healthcare? What if your church held a rally to support a local politician who advocated increasing welfare benefits? What if a ministry you give money to for feeding hungry children chose to use some of that money to lobby for increased food stamp availability? They are certainly free to do so, however once we get away from ministry and preaching the Gospel we open the door for stuff that we might not want.

    Too much of this is happening and is one of the reasons the church is seen as being irrelevant to many people. Once a church decides to align with a particular political party or agenda it effectively cuts itself off from half the population. When people come to our worship services and hear more about politics than they do about Jesus the quickly lose whatever spiritual interest they had. We have far more to offer than political propaganda.

    I was attracted to Samaritan Ministries because of the way they worked and the benefits it provided. However, I was willing to wade through the crap they sent every month (although I did consider suggesting they could save some money by not sending so much) because I liked the ministry. However, at some point I will need to draw the line. This “Christian Ministry” is getting involved in areas that really have nothing to do with their mission. Helping a filmmaker attack an existing law and spouting political opinions is not beneficial to anyone and certainly not helping provide resources to those who are sick. If people want to give to that cause there are certainly means to do so. If the leaders of Samaritan Ministries want to start up another organization to work for that cause, more power to them. I just don’t think they should be using resources I give in order to do so.

    Besides, it is still ironic to me that the approach of Samaritan Ministries is much closer to socialized medicine than what we currently have. I don’t know why they can’t see that.

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