Q. I was wondering how you handle your maternity bills with Samaritan Ministries. We just found out that we will be having our third blessing in Nov! We have been members with Samaritan since Oct 2011 & have never had to process a need. It seems like my doc & the hospital just don’t get what we’re doing & I think our bills are going to suffer for it (we have always paid our bills on time – early actually, so it saddens me that they bristle now that we are “self pay”).
We’ve been happy members of Samaritan Ministries for about 6 years, and I have received many different versions of this question, so when I answered her privately I asked if it would be ok for me to share the response here as well. Of course she agreed.
A. I don’t use a hospital and doctor for pregnancy, but I can tell you how it works for me and how we have dealt with other doctor bills not related to labor/delivery.
My midwife has a total charge for prenatal/birth/postnatal services, with a significant discount if it is paid in full by 36 weeks. She does charge separately for a few things, but for the sake of simplicity I asked her to put it all on one bill and she was happy to comply.
Normally, Samaritan members pay their bill if they are able or make payment arrangements as necessary. It’s fine to explain that you are a member of a Christian medical sharing organization, but don’t expect special treatment. As far as the provider is concerned, Samaritan members are uninsured, so they work together with us inside that framework. Of course my midwives have been very understanding and I have been told that they usually gets their money much faster this way than when their customers have traditional health insurance!
I mentioned that normally we pay our bill up front or make arrangements to pay, but with our midwife it’s different. Because she gives a discount for payment in advance, I contacted Samaritan Ministries and was able to share my need before the services were rendered. This saved everyone money, which makes me happy. It also made my midwife happy to have her payment in advance.
In any case, the first thing to do is request a Need Processing form from Samaritan. This is just a single page where you list your bills and have your pastor/elder sign to verify that the need is genuine. Having the form on hand allows you to list bills as they arrive.
Then I would suggest telling your providers a little about your situation. Ask each individual provider if there is a discount for paying in advance for any portion of the bill (maybe your OB charges a set amount and will discount, for example). Ask if there is a special cash price or self-insured price. Talk to Samaritan about publishing a portion of your need in advance if it cuts the bill.
Otherwise, pay what you can when billed and make arrangements for the rest. Keep track of your separate bills, and send in the Need Processing form when you think you’re done – or if you expect a lot of bills over time you can simply get the first batch in line, and submit more later. :)
It may sound like a lot of fuss and bother, but it’s nothing like the old days when we had to submit our own claims to the insurance company. Does anyone remember that? I chose doctors and dentists based on whether they would do the insurance forms for me because it was such a hassle and follow-up was a nightmare! This is nothing like dealing with an insurance company. It really is easy, and requires just enough involvement to ensure that a member’s brain is engaged, so we don’t accidentally pay $960 for 57 bars of soap we didn’t use or get charged for an epidural that was never administered.
Once you send in your list of bills, just sit back and wait. Here’s what happens next:
- You’ll receive an acknowledgment that it was received and processed, and they’ll tell you when your need(s) will be published.
- Then you’ll receive a checklist telling you exactly who is supposed to send you money and how much.
- Now you’ll start receiving checks in the mail directly from other members like yourself. Most will arrive with cards and/or notes of prayer and encouragement.
- If you don’t receive everything by the date on the list, send the checklist back to Samaritan and any unreceived amounts will be assigned to other members the following month.
- Use the money to pay your providers, or reimburse yourself if you already paid out of your own pocket.
That’s all the followup that is required on your part.
Does that give you a better idea of how it should work for you? As always, I strongly recommend calling the office and chatting with them. They are always friendly, helpful and encouraging, and you can be sure you’re getting the right answers to your questions.
If you decide to join Samaritan Ministries, I would love for you to tell them that you heard about it from Kim Coghlan!