Guest Article By Anthony Hopp
As more Americans learn about health care sharing, Samaritan Ministries International remains one of the leading health care sharing ministries in America. Several distinctives have guided the ministry in following its mission for 25 years.
About the same time Samaritan Ministries was starting 25 years ago, Arby’s ran an ad campaign with this tagline: “Arby’s is different. Different is good.” The idea was that you could go a lot of places to get a hamburger, but, if you were looking for something different, go to Arby’s for some roast beef. We hope Samaritan Ministries members will convey the sentiment: “Samaritan is different. Different is good.”
Samaritan doesn’t want to be just another health care hamburger joint. We want to offer innovative, Christ-honoring service that helps establish health care sharing best practices and impacts our health care system for the glory of God. By God’s grace, we are committed to continuing to honor Jesus Christ, being faithful to the teachings of the Scriptures and advancing God’s kingdom in all aspects of ministry. That goes for every interaction with members, staff, associates and providers, and also the way we tell the world about Samaritan.
This commitment means that at times we will intentionally choose different practices than other health care sharing organizations when we believe there is a danger of violating Biblical teachings. It also means that we are not health insurance, as we have different operating philosophies based on different worldviews. This choice to be different is not dependent on a claim that insurance is inferior to health care sharing, as we know there are many ways God uses insurance to care for people! However, we are claiming that as Christians our shared faith in Jesus Christ is to be woven throughout every aspect of our lives, including our participation in Christian community within health care.
That’s what Samaritan Ministries is all about.
Because of these philosophical differences, five distinctives set Samaritan Ministries apart:
1. Commitment to Biblical Mission: For 25 years, Samaritan Ministries has operated under the acknowledgment that health care needs are multidimensional—emotional and spiritual, as much as physical and financial. Samaritan has the mission to connect members to care for the whole need with prayer, encouragement, and financial support. Galatians 6:2—”Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (ESV)—has remained at Samaritan Ministries’ core.
2. An Expression of Shared Faith: Samaritan’s membership agreement makes it clear it is a community of Christians helping other Christians. The ministry doesn’t pay for anything, but members commit to faithfully share with one another based on their religious convictions and according to the ministry Guidelines.
3. Direct Sharing from One Christian to Another: Samaritan members send shares directly to one another rather than send shares to an organization to administer. Along with these direct financial shares, members also send personal notes and cards of encouragement and commit to pray for their fellow members.
4. Member-Led: Samaritan is overseen by a member-led Board of Directors, the majority of which is elected by members, with annual independent audits available to the public and reports of sharing amounts available to members.
5. Nonprofit Charity: Samaritan is an IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) religious charity administering a sharing ministry subject to state and federal laws that govern charities. The federal Affordable Care Act, as well as 30 state safe harbor provisions in their insurance codes, recognize that health care sharing is not insurance.
Samaritan’s 270,000 individual members (82,000-plus member households) send monthly financial shares directly to other members, along with notes and cards of encouragement. Through this effective, God-honoring ministry, Samaritan’s growing Biblical community shares approximately $30 million in medical needs person-to-person each month. In fact, Samaritan Ministries members have shared $1.8 billion in needs over 25 years.
Anthony Hopp is the Vice President of External Relations for Samaritan Ministries.
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