FAQ

  1. General FAQs
  2. Individuals/Families FAQs
  3. Group FAQs

General

Can I choose my own health care providers?

Yes. There are no “preferred providers”, or required networks in regards to Samaritan Ministries. Thus, there are no “out of network” penalties. The only exception is on the Discounted Health Benefits in which a member uses participating providers to receive the discounted services.

Is The Health Co-Op insurance?

No. Neither Samaritan Ministries nor any other benefits found in the elements of The Health Co-Op are insurance or underwritten by any insurance company.

As stated by Samaritan Ministries: “Insurance is usually thought of as a contract whereby one party agrees to be legally responsible for and accept another party’s risk of loss, in exchange for a payment called a premium. Health care sharing is an arrangement whereby Christians share, to assist one another with medical expenses through voluntary giving.  We are not licensed or registered by any insurance board or department since we are not practicing the business of insurance.”

In regards to the remainder of (benefits) offered by The Health Co-Op, they result either from actual service rendered by The Health Co-Op’s Member Services Team or from actual discounts given by participating medical providers. At no time does The Health Co-Op pay any of a member’s medical costs or receive any “claims” for medical services.

How are members of The Health Co-Op affected by the new federal health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)?

Starting in 2014, the new law requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. However, the law also contains a provision that members of health care sharing ministries are not subject to the insurance requirement, and they are exempt from the penalties.  Therefore, the new law does not hinder current or new members from participating in the ministry.

Does this work internationally?

The Health Co-Op service is available in all 50 U.S. states (some discount health benefits may be limited in certain states). Members of Samaritan Ministries International may participate in their health care sharing ministry while living abroad. Member Advisory services and discount health benefits are available in the United States of America. 

How much do I send monthly to Samaritan Ministries and how much to The Health Co-Op?

Each month you will receive a newsletter from Samaritan Ministries which will instruct you where to send your member share. Your Health Co-Op member benefits amount will be billed directly to the credit card used when you signed up for The Health Co-Op. If at any time you need to update your credit card information, please contact MemberServices@thehealthcoop.com or call 866-451-2717.

How do I submit medical bills to Samaritan Ministries?

Simply call Samaritan Ministries at (877) 764-2426 and speak with a Member Advocate who will take some information, assign you a Need Key and send you the appropriate paperwork. Once received, fill it out completely and send it back with original copies of your bills. They will then schedule the need for publication.  If you need us to secure itemized statements from your health care providers, just contact us.  We’ll happily secure the documents you require.

I’ve lost my member benefits booklet and/or card. How do I get a new one?

Simply call Member Services at (866) 451-2717 to request a replacement.

How do I speak with a Chaplain?

Please call Member Services at (866) 451-2717. They will simply take your name and number and have a Chaplain call you. No questions will be asked as to the nature of the request.

How do I receive help on medical bills that aren’t eligible for publication by Samaritan Ministries?

Simply contact Member Services at The Health Co-Op and advise them of the situation. They will open a case for you with the advocacy department who will speak with your providers and negotiate your bills.

Once your bills have been negotiated, the advocacy department will advise you of any out-of-pocket costs that might remain. You may wish to contact the Special Prayer Needs ministry of Samaritan Ministries to see if they will share the Special Prayer Need.  The Special Prayer Needs ministry has a dedicated page in the monthly publication in which certain needs of this nature are mentioned and members from all over the country freely and happily contribute to the needs.

Back to Top Pricing & Signup

Individuals/Families FAQs

Can I choose my own health care providers?

Yes. There are no “preferred providers”, or required networks in regards to Samaritan Ministries. Thus, there are no “out of network” penalties. The only exception is on the Discounted Health Benefits in which a member uses participating providers to receive the discounted services.

How are claims handled?

One reason Samaritan Ministries is not an insurance company is that there is no transfer of risk. This means that when a member receives medical care, there is no “claim” that is owed. There is simply a medical need. Samaritan members send proof of their medical expenses to the Samaritan Ministries office where they are evaluated according to the Guidelines. Then the qualified needs are shared among the members by being published in a monthly newsletter mailing where each active member is asked to share in another member’s medical need. Again, though SMI membership is a requirement for The Health Co-Op, sharing is voluntary and does not involve a legal obligation (claim) on the ministry or the other members.

This all sounds too good to be true! Does this really work?

Absolutely!  Samaritan Ministries has existed for over 20 years.  They serve over 55,000 households and over 150,000 people.

However, past contributions by Samaritan Ministries members assisting one another are not any guarantee of future actions. There is not a promise/contract by Samaritan Ministries or The Health Co-Op to contribute toward any need you may have in the future.

The only promise by Samaritan Ministries is to make qualifying needs known through the monthly newsletter mailing, so SMI members can give voluntarily to those members with needs. However, each month members share over $7 million to meet each others needs.

Is The Health Co-Op insurance?

No. Neither Samaritan Ministries nor any other benefits found in the elements of The Health Co-Op are insurance or underwritten by any insurance company.

As stated by Samaritan Ministries: “Insurance is usually thought of as a contract whereby one party agrees to be legally responsible for and accept another party’s risk of loss, in exchange for a payment called a premium. Health care sharing is an arrangement whereby Christians share, to assist one another with medical expenses through voluntary giving.  We are not licensed or registered by any insurance board or department since we are not practicing the business of insurance.”

In regards to the remainder of (benefits) offered by The Health Co-Op, they result either from actual service rendered by The Health Co-Op’s Member Services Team or from actual discounts given by participating medical providers. At no time does The Health Co-Op pay any of a member’s medical costs or receive any “claims” for medical services.

Is this legal?

The Christian health care sharing ministry of Samaritan Ministries’ Christian Health Care Newsletter is not restricted from operating in any of the 50 United States, or U.S. territories or any foreign country, and has no legal barriers of which we are aware.  Samaritan Ministries International is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

How are members of The Health Co-Op affected by the new federal health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)?

Starting in 2014, the new law requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. However, the law also contains a provision that members of health care sharing ministries are not subject to the insurance requirement, and they are exempt from the penalties.  Therefore, the new law does not hinder current or new members from participating in the ministry.

Does Samaritan Ministries share maternity needs?

In general, maternity needs include bills for prenatal care, delivery, postnatal care, and miscarriage, and are treated like any other medical expense.

There are specific Guidelines for types of maternity needs that are publishable (Section A) and the initial unpublished amount (Section B). Expenses related to pregnancies and complications of birth of the mother and child where the pregnancy began before membership will be shared as a Special Prayer Need (Section C).

How many people are members of Samaritan Ministries?

As of January 2017, there were more than 68,000 households representing more than 220,000 individuals.

How will I pay my bills when I have a need?

Explain to your care providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) that you do not have insurance and that you are a self-pay patient.  The providers send their bills directly to you.  You organize the bills, complete a Need Processing Form and submit them to Samaritan Ministries.  The ministry will publish your need in the monthly newsletter mailing. The members assigned to your need will be asked to send their monthly shares directly to you by which you will then use to pay your bills, or reimburse yourself if the bills have already been paid.

If I have large amounts of medical expenses, how will that affect my membership?

Neither your membership nor your monthly share is affected by the amount of medical expenses you have.

What happens if there are more medical needs than shares in a month?
The SMI Guidelines have always clarified to the member the reality that payment is never guaranteed, but is always based on the commitment of the members to each other. Sometimes Samaritan Ministries (SMI) can overlap needs from two months so that there is enough money for all the needs. However, if all needs cannot be met, SMI uses a prorating method to evenly distribute the burden. For example, if there is only enough share money for 90 percent of the needs submitted for a particular month, only 90 percent of each need would be published in the SMI newsletter for that month.
Is there a lifetime or yearly maximum amount that is eligible for sharing by Samaritan Ministries for any one person or family?

There are no lifetime or yearly maximum amounts eligible for sharing. There is no limit on the number of needs that an individual member of household may have. Please note the core SMI program covers up to $250,000 per medical incident, but with the optional “Save to Share” program, there is no limit to what can be shared.

What is the maximum amount Samaritan Ministries members will share for medical needs?

The maximum amount that will be shared among the members for each medical need is $250,000. The need has to meet the Guidelines before it can be shared. Samaritan Ministries members are also eligible to participate in another sharing ministry, Save to Share, where remaining needs over $250,000 are shared (for a modest additional cost). There is no limit on the number of needs one person may have shared.

What kinds of needs do Samaritan Ministries members not share?

Needs resulting from conditions that existed prior to your membership are usually not shared.  Routine checkups and preventative care are considered items that can be included in your budget and are not shared. There is limited sharing of maternity needs related to a conception prior to membership. Most dental, audiology and optical needs are not shared. If any of these needs that do not qualify for sharing should become a burden to your family, the Special Prayer Needs ministry may be able to provide assistance.

Membership in The Health Co-Op provides discounts on some of the areas in which Samaritan Ministries Guidelines do not share with members.  You can receive discounts on dental, optical and audiology services, as well as many others. See our Discounted Health Benefits page to learn more.

What kinds of needs do Samaritan Ministries members share?

In general, needs for illnesses or injuries resulting in visits to medical doctors, emergency rooms, testing facilities, or hospitals are shared on a per person, per incident basis.

Back to Top Pricing & Signup

Groups FAQs

Can I choose my own health care providers?

Yes. There are no “preferred providers”, or required networks in regards to Samaritan Ministries. Thus, there are no “out of network” penalties. The only exception is on the Discounted Health Benefits in which a member uses participating providers to receive the discounted services.

Does The Health Co-Op have a health care solution for my small business, church or Christian school?

Our small group solution satisfies the Individual Mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Sec. 1501 (b) of HR 3590 at pg. 327, 328) offering full-service benefits to meet the health care needs of you and your employees.

If you’re part of a Christian business, church, non-profit or Christian school, The Health Co-Op has a full-service solution for you and your group.

How are claims handled?

One reason Samaritan Ministries is not an insurance company is that there is no transfer of risk. This means that when a member receives medical care, there is no “claim” that is owed. There is simply a medical need. Samaritan members send proof of their medical expenses to the Samaritan Ministries office where they are evaluated according to the Guidelines. Then the qualified needs are shared among the members by being published in a monthly newsletter mailing where each active member is asked to share in another member’s medical need. Again, though SMI membership is a requirement for The Health Co-Op, sharing is voluntary and does not involve a legal obligation (claim) on the ministry or the other members.

Does The Health Co-Op have a health care solution for my large business, church or Christian school?

Our large group solution offers 100% first-dollar coverage for preventative care and satisfies the Employer Mandate of the ACA. Components like an Health Savings Account (HSA) and prescription drug benefit may also be added based on group need.

If you’re part of a Christian business, church, non-profit or Christian school, The Health Co-Op has a full-service solution for you and your group.

This all sounds too good to be true! Does this really work?

Absolutely!  Samaritan Ministries has existed for over 20 years.  They serve over 55,000 households and over 150,000 people.

However, past contributions by Samaritan Ministries members assisting one another are not any guarantee of future actions. There is not a promise/contract by Samaritan Ministries or The Health Co-Op to contribute toward any need you may have in the future.

The only promise by Samaritan Ministries is to make qualifying needs known through the monthly newsletter mailing, so SMI members can give voluntarily to those members with needs. However, each month members share over $7 million to meet each others needs.

Is The Health Co-Op insurance?

No. Neither Samaritan Ministries nor any other benefits found in the elements of The Health Co-Op are insurance or underwritten by any insurance company.

As stated by Samaritan Ministries: “Insurance is usually thought of as a contract whereby one party agrees to be legally responsible for and accept another party’s risk of loss, in exchange for a payment called a premium. Health care sharing is an arrangement whereby Christians share, to assist one another with medical expenses through voluntary giving.  We are not licensed or registered by any insurance board or department since we are not practicing the business of insurance.”

In regards to the remainder of (benefits) offered by The Health Co-Op, they result either from actual service rendered by The Health Co-Op’s Member Services Team or from actual discounts given by participating medical providers. At no time does The Health Co-Op pay any of a member’s medical costs or receive any “claims” for medical services.

Is this legal?

The Christian health care sharing ministry of Samaritan Ministries’ Christian Health Care Newsletter is not restricted from operating in any of the 50 United States, or U.S. territories or any foreign country, and has no legal barriers of which we are aware.  Samaritan Ministries International is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.

How are members of The Health Co-Op affected by the new federal health care law (the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act)?

Starting in 2014, the new law requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a penalty. However, the law also contains a provision that members of health care sharing ministries are not subject to the insurance requirement, and they are exempt from the penalties.  Therefore, the new law does not hinder current or new members from participating in the ministry.

Does Samaritan Ministries share maternity needs?

In general, maternity needs include bills for prenatal care, delivery, postnatal care, and miscarriage, and are treated like any other medical expense.

There are specific Guidelines for types of maternity needs that are publishable (Section A) and the initial unpublished amount (Section B). Expenses related to pregnancies and complications of birth of the mother and child where the pregnancy began before membership will be shared as a Special Prayer Need (Section C).

How are Groups invoiced?

Depending on your groups particular set up, there will either be a group invoice for a Samaritan Ministries member need, or your individual employees will send their member share as directed by Samaritan Ministries.

Your Health Co-Op member benefit amount  for each individual or family unit will be invoiced to the group on the first of each month.

How do I ensure my employees have the best care?

The good news is that any member may use the doctors and facilities of their choice, making sure they are confident and comfortable in the care they are receiving. Samaritan Ministries has no restrictions on providers used.

The Discount Medical Services offered by The Health Co-Op will have provider networks to choose from in order to receive discounted services.  See our Discounted Health Benefits for more information.

How do I present this to my employees?

The Health Co-Op has developed materials for you to share with your employees.  These include printed informational booklets and flyers.  The Health Co-Op is also happy to assist you in making this presentation to your employees. Contact us if you need more information.

How do we add or drop an employee?

Simply notify your Member Services Team who will make sure that your employee is added or dropped.  Members Services will also inform you regarding how to drop an employee from Samaritan Ministries membership.

How many people are members of Samaritan Ministries?

As of January 2017, there were more than 68,000 households representing more than 220,000 individuals.

How will I pay my bills when I have a need?

Explain to your care providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) that you do not have insurance and that you are a self-pay patient.  The providers send their bills directly to you.  You organize the bills, complete a Need Processing Form and submit them to Samaritan Ministries.  The ministry will publish your need in the monthly newsletter mailing. The members assigned to your need will be asked to send their monthly shares directly to you by which you will then use to pay your bills, or reimburse yourself if the bills have already been paid.

If I have large amounts of medical expenses, how will that affect my membership?

Neither your membership nor your monthly share is affected by the amount of medical expenses you have.

What happens if there are more medical needs than shares in a month?
The SMI Guidelines have always clarified to the member the reality that payment is never guaranteed, but is always based on the commitment of the members to each other. Sometimes Samaritan Ministries (SMI) can overlap needs from two months so that there is enough money for all the needs. However, if all needs cannot be met, SMI uses a prorating method to evenly distribute the burden. For example, if there is only enough share money for 90 percent of the needs submitted for a particular month, only 90 percent of each need would be published in the SMI newsletter for that month.
Is there a lifetime or yearly maximum amount that is eligible for sharing by Samaritan Ministries for any one person or family?

There are no lifetime or yearly maximum amounts eligible for sharing. There is no limit on the number of needs that an individual member of household may have. Please note the core SMI program covers up to $250,000 per medical incident, but with the optional “Save to Share” program, there is no limit to what can be shared.

What is the maximum amount and limit Samaritan Ministries members will share for medical needs?

The maximum amount that will be shared among the members for each medical need is $250,000. The need has to meet the Guidelines before it can be shared. Samaritan Ministries members are also eligible to participate in another sharing ministry, Save to Share, where remaining needs over $250,000 may be shared. There is no limit on the number of needs one person may have shared.

What kinds of needs do Samaritan Ministries members share?

In general, needs for illnesses or injuries resulting in visits to medical doctors, emergency rooms, testing facilities, or hospitals are shared on a per person, per incident basis.

What kinds of needs do Samaritan Ministries members not share?

Needs resulting from conditions that existed prior to your membership are usually not shared.  Routine checkups and preventative care are considered items that can be included in your budget and are not shared. There is limited sharing of maternity needs related to a conception prior to membership. Most dental, audiology and optical needs are not shared. If any of these needs that do not qualify for sharing should become a burden to your family, the Special Prayer Needs ministry may be able to provide assistance.

Membership in The Health Co-Op provides discounts on some of the areas in which Samaritan Ministries Guidelines do not share with members.  You can receive discounts on dental, optical and audiology services, as well as many others. See Discounted Health Benefits to learn more.

 

Back to Top Pricing & Signup