30 August 2010

Bearing Medical Burdens

Isn't it a beautiful thing when Christians bear one another's burdens, so fulfilling the law of Christ?  One great way to do this is to join a medical expense "ministry."  You send in your monthly "sharing" obligation and PRESTO!  Your medical expenses are paid in return.

And never fear, you won't have to pay for anyone else's immoral lifestyle ever again.  Thankfully, in addition to not having to pay for anyone's abortions as you might expect, you also won't have to pay for mental illness. 

I know, I know.  "Why mental illness?" you're thinking.  "I could see abortion, because most Christians think that's murder.  But I thought that mental illness as we understand it today is the result of some sort of natural chemical imbalance in the brain."

Oh, no, no.  Mental illness, you see, is not a Christian thing to have.  Our pre-Copernican and extremely scientific minds have reasonably theorized that you must have a demon that needs prayer (cheaper that way).  That, or, as I could attest from listening to the radio last week, depression is caused by, and can be completely alleviated by, being more grateful.  That's right!  Make up those "gratitude lists" and get off the couch and do stuff for others.  Stop being such a loser!  (It's cheaper that way, as well.)  NOW you've got that joy, joy, joy, joy down in your heart.  If you don't, you're not living Biblically.  Repent.

And rest your conscience, good and loving Christian.  Under this "ministry" plan (we are careful never to use the term "insurance," mind you) you will never have to pay for bastard children to be delivered into this world. (That'll teach that mom not to go have sex outside marriage again!  Loving 'em into the Kingdom, we are.)  Requests for "sharing" medical expenses if the parents haven't been married and sending in their "sharing" money for the full nine months will be denied.  We also deny all help for STD treatments unless you can prove rape documented at the police station.  So lady, better marry well because if your husband cheats on you, YOU are out of luck with our little Christian community.

I know you're really excited about this Christian health option and want to join.  You need a medical exam certifying that you're healthy already.  Your BMI must be within the healthy range, and your waist less than 35 inches around.  You cannot have ANY pre-existing conditions.  Jesus doesn't want to "share" his medical money with all you defective people, so go away if you have any of those.  For plan members, though, we want you to know that if you just pray hard enough and eat your vegetables, the disease reversal plan in the upper right corner of our website may just work for you!

Oh, and finally:  the Christian testimony.  You have to have documentable evidence that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  We reserve the right to send investigators out to interview your pastor to make sure that you're for real.

Sign up today!!

26 comments:

  1. Lots of red tape and condiotions attached to this Christian love, huh?

    Better off with insurance I say..

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  2. We did consider going with something like this when we didn't have insurance. It would have been cheaper--as insurance coverage is insane.

    Now, I get where you're coming from, but they are trying to build a system that is sustainable. They have realized that to keep everyone's contribution low they have to limit what they can cover. That's just good budgeting. Sure, you can say it nicer or not, but the fact remains: We have limited resources and so must decide how to spend them.

    ...granted, there are certain entities that don't seem to have to find a way to balance those pesky budget thingies and can promise you everything right now because by the time that system gets into place and people need to be paid, it will be someone else's problem. But that's not where I live.

    ~Luke

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  3. I think so too, Terry...

    Luke, I GET the income/expense thing. But they're marketing themselves as being faith-based and wanting their expenses paid IN FAITH, complete with Christian-y verses peppered throughout the website.

    Lowering your payments by excluding others is NOT faith. I'm not saying it should be illegal to have an organization like this, but basing it on FAITH, well, that's a lie. Call it low-risk cost sharing, but it has little to do with religion other than the pomposity of some of the odd exclusions/ requirements.

    Honestly, I don't think Jesus would go for this crap. Health/risk secular? Fine. But his name is plastered all over this as though it were A MINISTRY. You know? And that isn't.

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  4. Like Luke, I get the idea of keeping costs low by limiting coverage. That makes sense.

    I also like the idea of these organizations for people who want to put their money and faith where their mouth is concerning things like indirectly funding immorality and freedom from government intrusion into their healthcare choices. We looked into Samaritan Ministries at one point ourselves.

    But to imply that a woman who may have come to Christ after conceiving a child out of wedlock is less deserving of "ministry" or the example you gave of the good wife (or husband) who may have been infected with an STD by an unfaithful spouse, ot mental illness being some kind of cover for unconfessed sin?

    That's just too much. Better just to say that the nature of our enterprise means that we must limit the services we can cover, and then list them.

    Not cool to imply that God would somehow agree that such medical care is unChristian and therefore unworthy of coverage.

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  5. BUT here's the rub, Terry...

    To say that "the nature of our enterprise means that we must limit the services we can cover, and then list them" would mean admitting that one is operating in the secular business world under the cover of "Jesus." You're really selling what amounts to insurance, and THAT means that you must operate according to the laws governing insurance.

    Courts seem to agree:

    http://www.newschannel5.com/Global/story.asp?S=13049113

    "A split high court found that that the Medi-Share program "fits comfortably within the statutory definition of an insurance contract" because it shifts the risk of payments for medical expenses from the individual to a pool of people paying into the program."

    I would NOT agree with the statement later in the article that "The only direct benefit is the joy derived from helping a person in need or supporting a worthy cause." If you read the website, it's clearly marketing the BENEFITS one can receive on the program.

    I honestly think they're using Jesus to shield themselves from the current laws that govern insurance. I'm not speaking about whether the current laws are perfect or fair or moral. :)

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  6. Even if I would qualify... with previous illnesses and waist circumference issues, I wouldn't join this group unless Christ himself were splitting the "loaves".

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  7. Just came over from Kim C's site at Life in a Shoe...

    How is it "loving" to pay for someone else's sin? In many cases, insurance companies are aiding and abetting sin.

    I think the diaconal ministry is so important to help those who are in need as you described (and who are willing to at least attend church, at the minimal). But it's not realistic to expect any church to be able to help every need. That's where I think something like this is helpful.

    Just my thoughts!

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  8. Not sure if you are aware of the most recent ministry idea from Samaritan; the Morning Center. Check it out.
    Nothing will be perfect till we get to heaven.

    Respectfully,
    Darleen

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  9. Hi, Rachel. I would submit to you that "paying for someone else's sin" is the most loving thing you could ever do. Jesus did it for You, and He is our example. I don't mean that you should go out and buy the alcoholic a drink, but what would Jesus do if someone with cirrosis needed a new liver? I know there can be a fine line between enabling sin and showing mercy and grace. Always, I hope to err on the side of grace...

    Hi, Darleen. I agree that nothing will be perfect until we get to heaven. Which is why (despite the snarkiness of this post) I can respectfully disagree with the whole idea of medical "sharing" but still be friends with those who decide this is the best option for their families. Thanks for commenting! :)

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  10. Thanks for replying.

    I do have insurance, but my conscience is severely troubled by my paying money to a company that may indiscriminately pay for someone else's sin (and not in the way Jesus did...He took the penalty of sin so that all His own would not, but He did not give money or support groups that gave money for, say, someone's abortion).

    I just think it's too impersonal a thing to say that it's "loving" to pay insurance premiums. I mean, I pay them, but I don't see it as charity or love. Honestly, it is far more loving to love our literal neighbors (and this can mean financially). And often, this is harder to do. Paying a premium that pays for someone's medical bills just says, "Here. Your bills are paid." It doesn't say anything about Christ.

    I understand their drawing the line at mental illness b/c the costs would be sky-high otherwise. Having taught (and this was in a Christian school), I can testify that 50% of my students were on prescription drugs for ADD/ADHD. And THAT is ridiculous.

    Grrr. I guess there's just no great alternative right now, and therein is the rub!!

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  11. Oh. And what I meant to add (but forgot!) was that I think you're right in that it's a misnomer to call it a ministry.

    Why do you think they market it like that...so that people might view their monthly sharing as a "tithe," or do you think they have some other reasoning?

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  12. I think they market it this way so they can literally hide behind the Name of JESUS and sell insurance that short-changes people with unpopular medical conditions. To put it bluntly. Otherwise, these folks would be subject to all kinds of regulation.

    I disagree also with paying for someone else's abortion. Generally, I'd like to leave medical decisions between the patient and doctor, but murder is a step too far.

    I think we're both in agreement that our insurance is not CHARITY. It's insurance. We are insuring OURSELVES. It doesn't necessarily have to follow that in our business practices that we oughtn't behave charitABLY.

    Though really, if I had to rely on my local church body to get any crisis/needs met, I'd be dead. Most people who advocate for this sharing and whatnot are well-connected in their communities, and are not social outcasts. If more people were to read some of the older novels (eg. Oliver Twist) about what life was like when "the church" was in charge of charity in the community, they'd be more grateful for the modern (if imperfect) system of regulation.

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  13. Why in heaven's name do they have Samaritan in their name? Wasn't the point of that story to help people others passed by? Not only help a few special select, which is what they are doing. Maybe
    levite or Priest ministries would be better name since they act more like those two in the story. And based on that story I'm pretty sure Jesus wouldn't be okay with this "ministry".

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  14. Hello, anonymous, and welcome. I liked your comment very much.

    The Samaritan's giving as Jesus outlined is so radical, so loving, and so amazing that it would be akin to His saying in modern times something along the lines of, "But the illegal Mexican immigrant bandaged him up by the roadside, gave him the last of his food and called 911 at great personal and financial risk..." You know?

    I classify myself as a Christian fundamentalist. I'm against illegal immigration but not the people who are here illegally. I believe in the idea of church but find no church can meet our needs locally. So. All that to say... I see where the medical "ministry," no matter who is running it, is going to fall short of the ideal.

    This stuff, though, strikes me as using my God's Name to hide behind in order to evade the law. I could be very wrong and often have been, but right now that's just how I see it.

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  15. I totally agree. If this was truly a Samaritans Ministry, they would look at the unwed mother or the person with a mental illness or the people with STDs and offer to assist them, but instead they pass on the other side of the street only offering the judgement of "We don't want our money going to help people like that!" The people running this are a disgrace to all that Jesus stood for and I wish the people who defended them would address this.

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  16. Yep. It's one thing when you are clear about it being a BUSINESS and issuing guidelines. Call it a ministry? Better act like it.

    I'm disenfranchised though, really. So done with church, the corporate church. It says it's a ministry, but it does the same thing. I consider myself a believer still, only the fundamentalist churches lack grace and compassion. God's Word and avoiding sin are important, but grace and compassion IMO just as much so because we're all gonna need it sometime. :)

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  17. Thank you for posting this. I has raised similar questions on blogs which promote this, and people seem to be saying they refuse to question this "ministry"s business practices because they hide them behind the name of Jesus. (They operate as a ministry because it would be illegal for them to operate as they do as an insurance company).

    I have also noticed that representatives from Samaritan frequently pop in in the comments whenever they are discussed on blogs, and sometimes spread false information in order to make themselves seem more attractive and to call the blogger's criticism into question.

    I did a great deal of research on this company several years ago because my husband was laid off and we couldn't afford health insurance. He thought they seemed sketchy, and that the idea of collecting money and forwarding it to others was too similar to a pyramid scheme to be trustworthy. Also, we wondered if we would even be accepted because I am a Christian and he is not (maybe I'd be Christian enough to take monthly payments from, but suddenly come up short if I had a need?).

    In addition to mental health and STD treatments, one of the big things Samaritan does not cover is vehicle accidents. They claim that your car insurance will take care of this, but that is not always the case. They also only cover 3 "needs" per year, so if you have a chronic condition or it takes a few trips to diagnose the problem you can be stuck. They do not cover routine wellness exams or medical test such as mammograms or physicals, either.

    I know you can go for years without ever having to use insurance, as I did but, when you need it, you want a company you can rely on for coverage, not one that bases it on subjective things and whether or not they feel like you are good enough to deserve their help for that particular problem.

    It is a shame that they hide behind calling themselves a ministry and dupe people into paying in and then possibly not getting any financial help with medical needs when they arise.

    btw, the abortion thing is just a marketing tactic. Very few medical insurance companies cover abortions, because it is an elective procedure, not a medically necessary one.

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  18. Hello and thank you, Raine. I'm surprised more people are not speaking out on this as well. And

    YES, the abortion thing IS a marketing tactic. I haven't seen coverage for this yet, either. That is NOT to say that it could not happen. More likely to be covered are things like Viagra that I would honest to gracious have an objection to because I don't see SEX as a medical need, yk? But to my mind, that's not an absolute issue like abortion.

    Off-topic, but our insurance company ages ago denied coverage for a circumcision because it was billed incorrectly and listed ME as getting the circumcision. The ins. carrier I spoke with said oh, the office just has to change the billing and I said, "UMMM, my son never had a circumcision!!"

    So there is a lot of waste and double billing and the like that ought be looked into, I think...

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  19. This is a huge part of why I love you and enjoy our friendship so much. You don't sugar coat and you speak your mind. This seems to be a 'ministry' of Stepford proportions where only the select few are able to get help. Sad. Often it's not the ones who make the 'select cut' that truly need the help and for ANY church/religious group to shun mentally ill is tragic. Truly tragic. When at your lowest and struggling who would think those representing Jesus would shut you out as well.
    And no, Viagra is not a medical need. Needs and wants so easily confused these days. And finally, please stop denying that you did have a circumcision. lol That one is just killing me! hahahaha ;)

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  20. Yep, it's beyond tragic. Hurts people who need help and sullies the Name of Christ IMO. Really, it's a whole lot worse than saying G-dammit type stuff; it's rolling their personal testimony in the mud.

    And also yep...needs and wants get really mixed up with some of these guyyys. They think they have "needs," but they really have "wants." And IMO the Christian community confuses the two in regard to modesty etc. It puts men off as having uncontrollable urges, not to get too graphic about it. I understand the principle of not intentionally teasing/leading to lust, but seriously.

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  21. Even those who fit all of the requirements are often hurt by these "ministries".

    A relative belonged to one many years ago and needed a very common surgery that was covered by the "ministry". In order to keep costs down the "ministry" bargained down the bill with the hospital. After that they still didn't pay saying to trust God that the price would still go down. It did but not before the bill was given to collections and still left unpaid until collections was willing to pay pennies on the dollar. Their credit was trashed and it wasn't until 10 years later that they were approved for any type of loan again. They would have been better off taking out a loan and paying the entire bill in full.

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  22. Molly, that is just shocking! I had not thought them so bad as all this. It's stealing from the families and stealing from the hospital. But dang at least they don't cover immoral lifestyles, right??

    The thing that sticks in my craw about stories like this is that likely, there is nothing that can be done legally. Meanwhile, the Name of God is trampled when "Christian" companies act like this. This is lifestyle blasphemy; you don't even have to say the words when you defraud people and twist scripture for profit. And your relative is likely left with a lot of questions about who God really is and whether anyone cares.

    Shameful. I'd say "buyer beware," but I don't think most of the buyers see themselves as consumers until they are in need themselves...

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  23. Wow. I had never heard of this "ministry" until today. It's nice to know that my kind isn't welcome despite having been Christian since age 9, married to my first and only husband for over twenty years (and we were both virgins at the wedding), having three children all of whom were born well within wedlock, never smoked, at a healthy weight my entire life and a daily exerciser. You see, I was diagnosed with a chronic illness years ago and while it is well under control, it will be part of my life as long as I am in this body. And, I hasten to add, this is not an illness that can be in any way blamed on my behavior, unless you want to hold me at fault for being born to a mother with a genetic predisposition for autoimmune diseases. But sure, insurance by any name is much cheaper if you exclude people like me who might actually need to use it.

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  24. Exactly, Mary. And while I don't see insurance as being a charity, I do think that it's not beyond the realm of government to "promote the general welfare" by allowing reasonable regulation. I'm not always happy about how that pans out, but like I said earlier, who REALLY wants "the church" in charge of all charity? England tried that and did a jolly bad job, chap. :)

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  25. No. It wont kill me to comment!

    I just came over here from a link to a different blog on FB that you commented on.

    I think this SM place sounds like a pyramid scheme to me.

    Mental illness does not equal demon in you head. You cannot pray away depression (although prayer can help).

    I like a lot of what you're saying here and just wanted to say "Hi. I stopped by. Rock on."

    Have you tried the Catholic Church? No church is perfect, and this one doesn't claim to be. But it is the church Jesus started and the reason the bible is available for us to read. I am a convert myself.

    Blessings to you and your family!

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  26. Hi, MamaMidwife! Thank you so much for stopping by AND for telling me that you were here. Yep, some of this conservative "Christian" stuff is just bunk. Not sure I want to go to the Catholic Church but I have "tried" it in that my father's side of the family and my husband's entire family except for one crazy cousin are all Catholic. I think the deal from what I've seen is that you have to be really "into" it to get married or baptize your child, but then you sort of forget about it the rest of the year.

    I dunno, maybe lotsa Protestants live that way, too. Maybe I live that way, too, now that I am gone.

    Well, honestly? Not sure what to think about God or anyone right now. :)

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)