In the end, our family landed with choosing to participate in a healthcare ministry. We had considered it for years, but for various reasons, we had not pursued a medical ministry over employee health coverage. Given the opportunity for me to stay home with our children, exploring the medical ministry world more in depth was a good move.
Here are the top ten benefits we see from joining a medical ministry:
1. We have learned how to be authorities over our health and any illness. Diagnosis, treatment, and assessment is actually very possible by everybody if he is willing to put the time in to learn it! I’m not saying doctors are unnecessary – we love doctors when they are needed. But common illnesses can be treated at home and don’t require a trip to the doctor’s office for the well-learned person. (This also includes stocking various supplies and medicines. Take a look at our home medicine cabinet.)
2. We get prices up front on doctor visits and medical treatments. We are able to shop around and compare costs and even negotiate. Obviously in an emergency, we would attend the nearest ER, but we would still be able to negotiate that. And, I’ve done my homework on the local ERs and continue to monitor them so I know where I would go for what sort of emergency. (For example, a pediatric trauma would only go to two of our local ERs. A pregnancy emergency would only go to one of the ERs where the hospital has a level III + NICU, etc. I also stay up on the local talk to know what physicians are supportive or assassinating of our particular lifestyle.)
3. We have learned how to ask for all the parts of a procedure we would be charged for up front, how to read and assess an itemized bill, and how to negotiate medical costs before and after the fact. These are necessary skills for any medical consumer, but I didn’t realize to what extent when we carried insurance.
4. We live more in tune with our bodies and are the healthiest we have ever been because we now understand that, truly, we are the ultimate stewards of our health. Nobody else is responsible for us – just us!
5. I have developed keen observation skills because I consider myself the primary care provider for my family. I can properly assess my husband and children and am able to decide when it’s time for another set of eyes to assess and treat.
6. We are able to be extremely picky about practitioners. Rather than being at the mercy of a random physician or network, I can research and interview to find somebody competent, respectful, with the heart of an educator, and who views himself as a partner in our treatment. We are fully in the driver’s seat with practitioner choice.
7. We get to choose what systems we want to be indoctrinated into. As part of an employer group insurance plan, we were automatically on the conventional medical conveyer belt. Part of that is due to my complacency and part of that is due to the way that system works. With no set path before us now, we have the distinct advantage of a clear overview of all paradigms and how they flush out in belief and practice. This is true medical freedom.
8. We are better financial stewards of our money and much more prayerful about our health.
9. We seek to help others pay for their medical costs and entreat the Great Physician for healing on their behalf. We literally pray over each medical need presented us and gladly give and pray for somebody’s family every single month. This is shaping the heart of our whole family in a thrilling way.
10. Because of the reasonable cost of participating in a healthcare ministry, I am able to be home with our children. The value our family places on this is extremely high. If we had known about medical ministries previously, I may actually have been able to stay home with our children from the beginning instead of working the first two years of their lives.
A decision of faith
To be sure, choosing a medical ministry is not simply a financial decision. As believers, we strongly feel that our ultimate provider is the Lord. We believe He can provide (or not!) through traditional insurance, through the local church, through a medical ministry, or any other means. We had to truly realize this truth in order to abandon traditional insurance. It seems silly to write that out now, but it was a genuine challenge and exposure of our deficient faith as we explored medical ministries.
I read a comment on a blog about medical ministries where a member had been in an accident and his leg was amputated. The wife was furious that the ministry would not pay for the accident or his lifelong prosthetic maintenance needs. (I don’t know details of why not.) Another person commented asking for a follow-up months later. The wife responded that it turned out the accident was the other driver’s fault and his insurance had paid. They also had an out of court settlement that would provide generously for her husband’s lifelong needs well beyond even the anticipated medical cost. She was still very bitter towards the ministry.
And I remember thinking the lady missed it. She was wrong to have relied on the ministry in the first place – her reliance should have been on the Lord to provide somehow. And He did. He didn’t do it through the ministry, but He did provide.
My friend recently asked me what if a natural disaster completely obliterates an area where a lot of medical ministry members reside – so all of us submit huge, astronomical medical needs well beyond the ministry’s capability to cover. The answer has to be God would provide.
Even if my husband found himself employed by a company who offered excellent medical insurance, I’m not sure we would jump the medical ministry ship and go back to traditional insurance. Being a part of Samaritan’s has not only challenged our faith and grown us, but it has been a true family ministry of prayer and provision to others. That is not something we would easily surrender.
Challenge yourselves. Ask where your dependence lies. Who are you truly relying on for provision? Prayerfully move forward in making your decision. These are the first steps in making any decision and finding ultimate freedom in the only freedom-giver there ever was, is, or will be.
ps – please research all of this information for yourself and verify it with each separate medical ministry! Even as I collected information several months ago for this blog, some of the information changed as of this fall. I’ve done my best to accurately portray each ministry!
pps – you must read the guidelines in full for the ministry you consider pursuing. There is no way for me to list every single caveat to publication and sharing in a blog post without simply pasting their guidelines. READ THEM!