A kind word and gentle answer resulted in a 75 percent discount

Sally Zito  ·  Jun 28, 2017

What did it feel like for my husband, Tom, and me to join Samaritan Ministries back in 2015? Kind of like jumping out of an airplane, tugging on ripcords, and hoping our parachutes would open!

But through the shares we mailed, prayers we prayed, and cards we sent to those in need, Tom and I soon realized that, while we no longer had health insurance, we belonged to a wonderful ministry. Our commitment to fellow members became very important to us.

A few months later, Tom was hospitalized with a serious illness. Thankfully he recovered, and we prayed for God’s help in handling the bills that would follow. Doctors, lab tests, in-patient care, emergency room fees, X-rays … the steady stream of invoices sent me to my knees more than once. I soon realized that part of our commitment to Samaritan members included helping to keep costs down. Suddenly I was on a mission: I wanted to reduce every charge by the largest amount possible.

Each bill that arrived in the mail landed on a pile next to my phone. With a whispered prayer, I called providers and asked to speak with their billing department. Understanding how difficult the clerk’s job must be, I tried to bring a little sunshine into their day. After all, I not only represented Samaritan Ministries, but Jesus Christ, too!

When a caller is pleasant, polite, and patient, even testy clerks can become quite friendly. I watched in amazement as God reduced nearly every charge—some by as much as 75 percent! One hospital fee—nearly $24,000—was reduced to $5,900. I was stunned. In fact, I was starting to have fun! Me, the girl who could hardly sell Girl Scout cookies without cringing, asking medical providers to knock thousands of dollars off my bill! 

The conversations went something like this:

Me: “Hi. I just received a statement in the mail from your office regarding charges for my husband’s hospitalization last month. I have the account number here if you need it.”

Clerk: “Thank you, I’ll take that number. OK, I see your charges … how can I help you?”

Me: “Well, I wanted to know if by chance Dr. So-and-so would consider reducing this bill for me … since we are cash-pay patients.”

Clerk: “Typically no, those are our fees.”

Me: “I see. Do you think he might make an exception if we were willing to pay the full discounted amount right away?”

Clerk: “I doubt it, but I’d have to check.”

Me: “OK. Well, I’d really appreciate you checking into that for me. It’s quite a bit of money, but we’d be happy to pay it off if it could be reduced by say, 50 percent or so. But any amount would help.”

Clerk: “I’ll see what I can do and get back with you.”

Me: “Thanks so much—God bless your day.”

Nearly every provider reduced the charge. Most were happy to receive their payment in full, but some did insist on arranging for small monthly payments. We drew on our credit to get the discounts, and then paid off the debt when members mailed us their shares. 

(And thank you SO much, dear members—your shares were on time and your cards brought tears to our eyes!)

To say that this has taught us to trust the Lord is an understatement. God also showed me that there are many good people in the medical field. Each of them appreciates a kind word and a gentle answer—no exceptions! It’s truly a privilege to be an ambassador for Christ in this way, and a blessing to belong to such a wonderful ministry. 

Samaritan Ministries members Tom and Sally Zito live in Michigan.