Samaritan Ministries vs. Aliera Healthcare
Two Health Sharing Plans that Operate Very Differently
Both of these organizations are Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSM’s), but they are quite distinct from each other. One operates like a church ministry of benevolence and the other operates like a health insurance plan. Both offer you incredible savings.
Let’s look at the similarities and differences of these health share plans.
Both health sharing companies offer great rates as compared to traditional health insurance. Likely, you will pay around half the price you would pay enrolling through Covered California or directly through Blue Shield, Kaiser Permanente, Health Net or one of the other carriers.
If you don’t qualify for an Obamacare subsidy, you will definitely save money by going with either of these. However, if you do get a substantial tax credit, then the Covered California plans would likely offer you the most affordable monthly premiums and the richest benefits.
The Statement of Beliefs
This is one of the key differences. Both organizations require you to agree with a statement of beliefs. However, Samaritan Ministries has an overtly Christian statement that includes a commitment to live a biblical lifestyle, while Aliera’s statement is more inclusive.
By biblical lifestyle, Samaritan Ministries means several things. You are saying that you are a Christian, you will not abuse alcohol, you will not have sex outside of a heterosexual monogamous marriage, and you will attend church regularly. Your pastor will have to attest to the fact that you are living this biblical lifestyle.
Aliera Healthcare is a more ecumenical, faith based medical cost sharing organization. Their statement of beliefs is more flexible and almost anyone could agree to it.
You do not have to ascribe to any particular religion. You have to be committed to taking care of your health in your own way. And, you have to believe in some sort of a God (whatever that means to you).
Essentially, this opens up Aliera to a wider range of membership, and it keeps Samaritan Ministries to a narrow group of only committed Christians.
Using Your Coverage
This is where things get really different for these two organizations. Aliera Healthcare operates similar to traditional health insurance.
You pay a monthly premium. You get a list of benefits. There is a PPO doctor provider network.
And, one thing that people love about Aliera is that Aliera pays directly to the provider. So, you don’t have to go through the hassle of getting reimbursed and filling out a lot of paperwork.
Samaritan Ministries operates totally different. Basically, you function like someone without coverage.
You choose any doctor you want. You negotiate your own rates, and you pay out of pocket for everything.
If your costs are under $300 for one occurrence, then you pay the full amount and you do not get reimbursed.
If your costs are over $300, then you submit paperwork to Aliera in order to get reimbursed for anything over the $300 by the other members.
Once you’ve hit $300 three times or $900, then you have full coverage for any expenses that exceed $300. You continue to pay full price for anything under $300, but if the bill goes over $300, then you will get reimbursed the full amount.
Paying Your Monthly Premiums
With Aliera Healthcare, again they operate like traditional health insurance. You pay your premiums each month to the health care company. And, Aliera pays out for medical expenses.
Aliera maintains 20% of monthly contributions so that money is always available to pay out for healthcare expenses.
With Samaritan Ministries, you pay directly to other members to cover their health care costs. From month to month, you don’t know where your next check or checks will go. This makes auto-pay impossible.
You might contribute half of your premium to a family that just had a baby, and you might contribute the other half to a man who’s dealing with chronic heart problems.
Often, when people send their contribution, they will pray for that person and include a letter of encouragement.
Personal Touch or a Lot of Work
With Samaritan Ministries, some people love the personal touch…the letters, the prayers, the personal connection, etc.
Others complain that it’s a lot of work. Also, it can be frustrating and cause a money crunch when you have to pay up front and then wait to get reimbursed.
For every health care expense over $300, you have to fill out paperwork and get your pastor to sign it. Also, you can’t just put this on autopay because you never know where your check is going each month.
Others say that they love Samaritan because they know that their money is not going to a health insurance company and lining the pockets of corporate executives. Their money is going to real people with real needs who share their spiritual beliefs.