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Our Samaritan Ministries Experience After 7 Years

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As homesteaders and entrepreneurs, we are often asked, “What do you do for health insurance?” Our honest answer is that we don’t. Instead, we’ve been members of Samaritan Ministries, a health care sharing ministry for over 7 years.

Prior to beginning this journey of homesteading and working for ourselves, Jim had a job at a local University with excellent benefits. As we examined the traditional health care system and our goals for the future, while he was still working there, we made the switch from his PPO plan to Samaritan Ministries

Our Samaritan Ministries Review

7 years later, we couldn’t be happier with this decision! Health care sharing with Samaritan Ministries is the right fit for our family—and it might be for you as well.

Here is our review of Samaritan Ministries. Plus, we’ll break down our real world examples of how health care sharing has practically works for our family of 6 when medical needs arise.

What is Health Care Sharing?

If you’re coming from the conventional health insurance world, like we were, the concept of health care sharing can be confusing and intimidating. 

The first thing you need to know is that health care sharing is NOT health insurance. It’s entirely different. So what is it?

Simply put, health care sharing is a community of people sharing the financial burden of one another’s medical needs. 

writing a check to another samaritan member

The way this happens can vary depending on the health care sharing company. One of the big things that stood out to us about Samaritan Ministries is their direct member-to-member sharing.

This means that each month, our money is sent directly to another Samaritan Ministries member. Not to a company. But to a real person with a real medical need. 

We’ll break this down more as we go.

What is Samaritan Ministries?

Samaritan Ministries is a Christian based health care sharing company with 270,000 members.

You’ll find this description on their website:

“Samaritan Ministries is a Biblical solution to health care. It is not insurance. We deliver authentic, compassionate, and personal service in the name of Christ to enable and inspire members to provide for one another’s medical needs through prayer, encouragement, and financial support.”

They are headquartered out of Peoria Illinois. Having previously lived in Peoria for nearly a decade, we personally knew and attended church with a few Samaritan employees. They were wonderful people who genuinely believed in and cared about their work at Samaritan. 

This video shares more of our experience and some of the nuts and bolts of how it works.

Why the Switch to Samaritan Ministries?

As we mentioned above, we became Samaritan Ministries members while we were still participating in a top-tier PPO health insurance plan through Jim’s employer.

So why the switch?

While the job Jim had was great, we knew it would likely not be his ‘forever’ job. Plus, we dreamed of starting our own home-based business and working alongside our whole family. We didn’t want to feel stuck with this job, or any job, solely because of benefits.

What if we found an alternative health care option that was affordable and could adapt with our family and job situation, wherever life takes us?

That’s when we learned about health care sharing. We researched the options, and Samaritan Ministries was the stand-out winner to us. 

family hike at a forest preserve

We applied and became members right away, leaving Jim’s PPO plan through his employer. 

We won’t lie—this felt scary! It meant leaving the only health care system we had ever known for an entirely new concept. But it was also exciting!

Finally, a program that provided true FREEDOM. Freedom to choose the health care practitioners we wanted. Freedom to transition our career and location without being tied down.

In addition, the COST was on par with what we were already paying monthly and out of pocket for Jim’s previous PPO insurance plan. 

Plus, it gave us so much peace of mind knowing that our money was going directly to other Samaritan Ministries members, instead of a large corporation, and not supporting medical practices that did not align with our Christian BELIEFS and VALUES

family with backyard chickens

How Does Samaritan Ministries Work?

Samaritan follows a direct member-to-member sharing model. This means, that instead of making payments to a company to distribute, your money goes directly to an assigned Samaritan member who is undergoing a medical need.

What is a SHARE? If you are unfamiliar with the term “share”, it will commonly come up in this post. So it’s worth clarifying. Shares are the money one Samaritan member shares with another member to pay for the bills received following a medical event such as illness, injury, or maternity. Shares with Samaritan go two ways: 1) money you are sharing to another Samaritan member directly, or 2) money fellow members share directly with you for your need. With regular insurance, you’ll hear terms like payment, coverage, monthly premium, reimbursement. With Samaritan, you’ll hear SHARE.

Samaritan Ministries offers 2 health care sharing programs: Samaritan Classic and Samaritan Basic.

Samaritan Classic has an initial unshareable amount of $400, and a sharing limit of $250,000. This means that routine well visits and minor medical expenses below $400 cannot be shared. Qualified medical bills above $400 and below $250,000 are 100% sharable. Your monthly share amount that you send to another Samaritan member will depend on your family size.

We are members of Samaritan Classic and will primarily speak to our experience using that program in this post. 

our from scratch family

Samaritan Basic offers a lower amount that you pay toward another member’s need each month while having a higher unshareable amount for yourself when needs arise.

The Samaritan website can help you understand what the costs and limits would be for each program depending on your family size.

You may be asking, “But what about when medical expenses exceed the share limit?” At the bottom of this post is a FAQ section where we talk more about the optional Save-To-Share program that Samaritan offers members for catastrophic needs that incur costs above the $250,000 shareable limit.

Our Experience with Samaritan Ministries – Real World Examples

We have so much peace of mind that whatever medical needs arise—sickness, injury, maternity—we will be taken care of with Samaritan.

In total, since joining Samaritan, we’ve had:

  • 3 babies (homebirths)
  • 2 major pediatric medical needs including multi-day hospital stays and an ambulance transfer to a top children’s hospital
  • 4 emergency room or urgent care visits ranging from broken bones, to bug bites, to stitches.

The full cost (above the initial $400 unshareable amount) of each of these medical needs was met through shares from other Samaritan members. Typically our shares were received from other members within 3-4 months of submitting each bill for that need.

Here are three actual examples to help you better understand the process.

1. Homebirth

Our last homebirth had bills totaling $6,650.28. We created a maternity need on the Samaritan dashboard at the beginning of our pregnancy.  Early on in the pregnancy, after seeing the midwife, she provided us with an itemized bill for the global fee (all associated prenatal, delivery, and postpartum services). 

homebirth with our 3rd chilld

This allowed us to submit the bill for the entire birth to Samaritan early on in that pregnancy. We received the shares while still in the late 2nd trimester or early 3rd trimester and were able to pay our midwife in full before the birth took place. We even received an additional $500 discount that she offered by paying the global fee in full by 37 weeks of pregnancy.

In addition to the midwife’s global fee, we had other smaller bills (ultrasound, blood work, and postpartum doctor visit for the baby) that we submitted as we received them.

A few other helpful things that are shareable with a maternity need are:

  • any supplements taken during pregnancy that your OB or midwife recommends
  • up to $500 for the cost of hiring a doula
  • a birth kit needed to buy the items needed for a homebirth

2. Emergency Room Visit, Ambulance Transfer, and Hospital Stay

A few years back our one year old son had severe red rashes that started in his legs and quickly spread elsewhere over his body. We rushed him to the ER where he was diagnosed to have a serious infection. Because of the severity they rushed him to a top children’s hospital in an ambulance. 

We received 9 bills totaling over $23,000 for this need. The ambulance service alone was over $9,000. The ambulance bill needed to be paid immediately. However, they agreed to let us pay after we had received the necessary shares from Samaritan members. 

With the bill for the children’s hospital and ER visit, we were able to set up a payment plan to pay $500 monthly installments. This allowed us time to submit all associated bills to Samaritan, receive the full amount in shares from other members, and pay back those bills over the course of the next 18 months. 

With this need, we never paid from our own savings for bills—all was paid after shares were received.

3. Finger Laceration

In March of 2024, Joelle sliced her finger on a glass jar while doing dishes. We went to urgent care where she received 4 stitches. Soon after we received a bill for $515. When we submitted the bill to Samaritan, $115 was approved as sharable since we were responsible to pay the initial $400 unshareable amount. The $115 was scheduled to be received in May, but we actually received it at the end of April. In this instance, we had already paid that bill in full since it was a small amount.

Our Samaritan Ministries Review After 7 Years

If we were to sum up our experience with Samaritan it would be—EXCELLENT! We’ll break down the many benefits we’ve experienced as Samaritan Members below. 

smiling homestead family in overalls

But also, we’ll share the differences we’ve noted since joining Samaritan and leaving traditional health insurance. Our goal is to paint a realistic picture of what choosing health care sharing means for you. Being a Samaritan Member will likely require some extra learning and legwork on your part. But, we’ve only grown to appreciate these “potential drawbacks” over time and seen how they make us better stewards of our dollars and more informed participants in the medical system.

Let’s look at both the Benefits and the Differences

The Benefits


Our family participates in the Classic program and also opts into the Save-to-Share program. In total, we pay around $675 per month (~$650/mo. for Classic and ~$25/mo. for Save-To-Share). When we totaled up what we were paying with monthly premiums and out of pocket expenses with the 80%-20% split from Jim’s previous health insurance plan, we were actually saving money most years by switching to Samaritan. 

Flexibility of Health Care Providers

This was a BIG plus for us. Where traditional health insurance limits your options of offices and practitioners to a select list, we appreciate having the freedom to choose practitioners that are the best fit for our family with Samaritan. For instance, with our maternity need, we knew we wanted to have a midwife and homebirth. While many traditional insurance companies may not cover this, Samaritan supported us in choosing this option for our birth.

health share home birth

Sharing Has Been Sufficient

We’ve never had any issues with Samaritan fully sharing our medical needs that have arisen. In addition to sharing all standard physician bills, we’ve appreciated how they also share the cost of supplements or medications that a practitioner recommends for your need. So, for my pregnancies, the prenatal vitamins or other supplements that my midwife recommended were included as part of my need!

Join At Any Time

Since Samaritan is not insurance, there is no open enrollment period, which means you can join at any time throughout the year. The application process, for us, was quick and easy.

You Take Ownership of your Bills

What we’ve learned through reviewing our own medical bills has been unexpected and eye opening. There were a number of times a bill we received contained extra procedures added on that we never received, among other inaccuracies we’ve found. These experiences have given us confidence to advocate for ourselves when it comes to medical bills. Through our review efforts, we’ve been able to reduce medical bills by thousands of dollars over the years. It’s empowered us to not just take billing for health care at face value, advocate for ourselves, and save money for ourselves and other Samaritan members.

Self-Pay Discount

When you are a member of Samaritan Ministries, you are essentially a “cash pay” or “self-pay” patient. There are surprising benefits to being self-pay and not working with insurance companies—typically around 25-30% off your bill. This has saved us many thousands of dollars on medical bills over the last seven years.

Member-to-Member Sharing

Each month, when you receive your share, you send the money directly to another member of Samaritan for their specific need. And, when you have a need, you receive shares directly from other Samaritan members. No middle man and you have the opportunity to encourage and pray for another member who is going through something! We love this aspect of Samaritan. This member-to-member model is one of the big things made Samaritan really stand out. With other health care sharing companies we looked into, your money went to the company and was distributed anonymously from there.

writing a note of encouragement to a samaritan member

Easy To Budget

You are given an estimated amount that you are responsible to share each month with another Samaritan member. Yes, this amount will fluctuate. But we’ve always found it predictable enough to easily plug to our monthly budget. We talk some more about paying for well visits and unshareable amounts below. But since you are responsible for paying for these yourself, we’ve always found it easy enough to forecast the routine well visits our family will have in the upcoming year and add that to our annual budget.

Awesome Customer Service

With our former health insurance company, I remember dreading any phone call I had to make with long hold times and often unhelpful or grumpy associates. This has never been the case with Samaritan. They have top-notch customer support. I’ve always been able to speak with someone within a few minutes and am always greeted by friendly and helpful team members. They will also often ask if they can pray for you and your situation right there on the phone!

In Alignment with Our Values

The more we learned about Samaritan the more we were compelled to make the switch simply because it better allowed us to live out our values. Now we know the specific people and situations our money is going to, instead of paying a faceless corporation. We know we’re not overpaying since bills are personally reviewed by each Samaritan member. And we have peace of mind that we’re only supporting medical practices that align with our Christian beliefs. 

What’s Different?

You Pay Out of Pocket

Our infant son ended up spending several days in the hospital as a result of a virus he had when he was only days old. I was quite worried about how I would pay for the bills. Especially if I was required to pay them before receiving our shares from Samaritan members. However, my fears were quickly put to rest as the medical facility was very willing to work with me to set up a payment plan. This allowed me to pay the vast majority of the bills over time, once I had received all the shares to pay for our bills. 

hospital stay with infant using samaritan health share

That being said, there are times when you may be required to pay smaller bills out of pocket before you receive shares. But we’ve always had billing departments work with us to pay bills later, or in smaller installments, to give us time to receive the full sharable amount from other Samaritan members.

You Become Your Own Advocate (time involvement)

As I mentioned above in the “Benefits” section, our eyes have been opened to how medical billing works and how bills can often be inflated or inaccurate. Because of this, part of your role as a Samaritan member is to verify accuracy by examining bills, contacting providers, asking questions, and making sure it’s all correct in the end. This takes time! It’s not as hands off as billing through traditional health insurance can be. But we’ve appreciated over time how the extra investigation has helped bring about accuracy and justice in a system that can have flaws and shortcomings. 

First $400 is Unsharable

This means that you are responsible to pay for routine well visits and other minor medical procedures when they fall below the $400 threshold. This can be quite different than traditional insurance where routine visits and smaller medical bills might be paid for, split, or put toward your deductible. 

happy and healthy after having 4 kids

With Samaritan (Classic), qualified needs over $400, and up to $250,000, can be shared. But you are always responsible for that first $400 of any sharable need. While this can mean some additional out-of-pocket expense for you when needs arise, we’ve really appreciated that any qualified need within that $400-$250,000 range is 100% sharable. 

What this means for our family is that we budget for our annual routine well visits, along with an extra $400-$800 per year for when emergencies pop up. And with 4 young children and living on a farm, something always pops up!

Note that the share limits will be different in the Samaritan Basic program.

Samaritan Ministries Frequently Asked Questions

Over our 7 years with Samaritan Ministries, we’ve noticed that certain questions come up again and again. Many are the same questions we had initially! We’re happy to weigh in on a couple of those below.

But don’t forget, we’re just normal people simply sharing what our experience with Samaritan has been. The Membership Development Specialists at Samaritan are going to be your best resource for information and guidance. We recommend you reach out to them before making decisions.

from scratch farmstead

What about Catastrophic Events?

For catastrophic events, or medical events that go beyond the maximum sharable limit, Samaritan offers a program called Save-To-Share. This is completely optional. But if you opt into it, money from the Save-To-Share program will go toward medical needs exceeding the $250,000 shareable limit.

We chose to opt into Save-To-Share from the beginning of our time with Samaritan. Nothing catastrophic has happened thankfully, but it gives us peace of mind should anything that significant ever occur.

Plus, it’s affordable. Depending on your family size and situation, it’s only a couple hundred dollars a year to participate. We pay around $300 per year.

What about Dental and Vision?

Like routine well visits, these things are our responsibility to pay for as Samaritan members. If dental or vision care was needed following an accident, then the associated dental or vision bills would likely be a sharable expense. 

For example, our daughter took a tumble down some steps when she was 2 and lost some teeth. Thankfully they were baby teeth, and we did not end up needing to see a doctor or dentist. But had she needed dental treatment or oral surgery associated with the injury, it likely would have been a sharable need.

What about Pre-Existing Conditions?

This is one where it really is best to speak with their Membership Development team to discuss your specific situation. But to quote Samaritan’s guidelines, “Needs that result from a condition that existed prior to membership (known or producing observable symptoms) are only shareable if the condition appears to be cured, and 12 months have passed without any symptoms (whether or not benign), treatment, or medication (even if the cause of the symptoms is unknown or misdiagnosed).”

Do Share Amounts Ever Increase?

We can only speak from experience, but our monthly estimated share amount has increased a couple times over our 7 years while participating in Samaritan Classic. The increases have been reasonable and with as much advance notice as possible. Our share amount was stable the first few years we were members. But it increased more recently in 2022 and beyond as inflation and rising health care costs set in. 

Don’t see the question you want answered? Ask us! Or, check out the Samaritan Ministries Blog where they have tons of helpful articles, or we highly recommend you give them a call and talk to their Membership Development team for the most personalized information.

Grateful for the Health Care Sharing Model

All in all, we are so thankful we made the switch from traditional insurance to Samaritan when we did 7 years ago.

It’s made the transition to working for ourselves seamless and we’ve only had positive experiences with the support and care we’ve received. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments below or reach out. Or, for more information or to become a member, check out their website or give them a call!

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  1. Hello! I appreciated your review on Samaritan Ministires! My husband and I are considering applying for their health sharing program but I have a hang up. What is is like to have Samaritan health coverage during the pre birth and post birth appointments. I understand that they do not cover any yearly check ups, but I know that you have to have a few appointments leading up to giving birth (appts with mid wife/ birthing center/ OBGYN etc) and after the baby is born you have some wellness visits. How are things like this dealt with. Are they sharable? I have asked one Samaritan Rep, but their answer was not very clear. Thank you for any help or experience you can share! I appreciate it!

    1. Hi Anne Marie! We have found their maternity coverage to be great. We open a maternity need when we find out we’re pregnant and all prenatal visits have been covered under that need. They also cover the birth and then after the baby is born they cover the first pediatrician or well visit for the baby. That does make for a bit more out of pocket expenses that first year of the baby’s life since there are more regular check ups. And its worth noting that you need to be a member before you get pregnant, otherwise your pregnancy will be treated as a preexisting condition and likely won’t be covered. Hope that helps and blessings to you and your husband in your journey!

  2. Our question is, what if we have a catastrophic illness happen to either myself or my husband? What happens then? Say we have a stroke and have to be placed in a nursing home or in home health inside our home? Or cancer and he needs surgery and treatments all the time?

    1. Hi! Great question. That’s exactly the reason we decided to opt in to the Save-To-Share program which covers needs above $250,000 (I believe) when something catastrophic or ongoing occurs. It requires an additional monthly payment to opt into. We don’t have personal experience using it but we have given money toward needs in the Save-To-Share program like an ongoing cancer diagnosis, treatment, and ultimately passing. This was sad, but the family reached out to those who contributed after letting us know all their needs were met which was a blessing to them. It definitely gives us some peace of mind to do Save-To-Share. But the Samaritan customer service is really great, so we’d recommend you reach out to them and don’t just take our word for it. Hope that helps and all the best in your decision!

    1. They are not but they can be submitted as a special need and are often covered at least in part. We don’t have personal experience requesting for coverage for vision or dental but I’ve seen many others who have.

  3. I have a question about pre existing conditions like cancer or diabetes etc. Are these then considered pre existing and would never be covered under these types of plans?

    1. Hi! That’s a great question. My gut would think yes, they would qualify as pre-existing conditions but I would definitely reach out to Samaritan with your specific sitution and clarify. Their customer service is wonderful to work with and would be more than willing to answer any questions.

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