Book review: 'Health Care Sharing Ministries' by Dr. Stephen R. Turley

Michael Miller

Health care is in the throes of drastic changes, and Christians are at the forefront of the revolution, Samaritan Ministries member Dr. Stephen R. Turley writes in his book Health Care Sharing Ministries: How Christians are Revolutionizing Medical Cost and Care.

The Samaritan Ministries member says the Biblical sharing concept is poised to play a major role in those changes.

In the 65-page book, Stephen, who was profiled in this newsletter’s December 2017 issue and operates TurleyTalks.com, works through the unfortunate realities of health care today and how Christians are storming its gates.

He first establishes disruptions we’re seeing in health care that improve how it is accessed, provided, and paid for. Yet “overly expensive and unnecessarily cumbersome and frustrating” health insurance continues to dominate health care. Stephen concludes that “It is time to begin to think of health care provision and payment in innovative ways akin to the innovations in our wider ordering, manufacturing, and delivering industries.”

His conclusion is that “the church has the answer: health care sharing ministries” (emphasis in original). Why? HCSMs offer “Biblical and holistic visions of health” by abiding by a moral vision and operating from a salvific vision. With this approach, HCSMs are in the vanguard of what Stephen says is “nothing less than a revolution in health care.”

To establish his argument, he first works through the parable of the Good Samaritan, and then recounts how Christianity’s approach to health care developed from its worldview early in its existence. Using these foundations, Stephen shows that recent criticisms of health care sharing don’t hold water, since the critics are operating from a secular worldview that based itself on a Christian worldview and then twisted it.

“It is the church, not the secular state, that provides the frames of reference that awaken a truly charitable and humane society, one that calls all to the redemptive healing of the New Adam, who came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10),” he writes.

Stephen claims that “Christians are in fact at the vanguard of these (health care) changes and revolutionizing the way health care is accessed, provided and paid for through health care sharing organizations.”

He points out in chapter 3 that he speaks from experience as a Samaritan member.

“This for me is not merely a good idea or interesting theory,” he writes. “Health care sharing ministries offer a fundamentally different paradigm than that of health insurance, and that paradigm shift involves the radically personal nature of health care sharing ministries as opposed to the radically depersonalized nature of health insurance.”

Stephen relates his experience with having a Need shared among Samaritan members when his son, Richard, broke his foot. The Turleys received a number of cards with their Shares encouraging Richard with assurances of prayer.

“I can’t tell you how beautiful it was to share with my son the love of Christians he never even met,” Stephen writes. “Through health care sharing, Christians come together in a spirit of mutuality in sharing one another’s costs and burdens.”

HCSM members are also influencing health care just by being cash-pay patients, the ever-optimistic author asserts. “By transforming Americans into self-paying patients, Christian health care sharing is helping to lower health care costs across the board. … These two factors, discounts and price-shopping, significantly lower the price of health care and thereby widen its availability to more and more people.”

He also says that health care sharing “puts the patient in charge of his or her own health care.” Utilizing technological advances in health care access while caring for one another’s burdens “is the revolution of health care sharing ministries.”

After looking at how Christian organizations have long been involved in caring for the sick because of their belief in human dignity, he concludes that “conditions are ripe for a real renaissance in faith-based and post-secular health care.”

Finally, Stephen writes, “Health care sharing restores the notion of treating the whole person, not merely the disease, and thus requires its members to live lives in a manner glorifying to God.” He encourages Christians who are “stuck” in health insurance systems to look at the “new way, a better way, which turns out to be very old.”

“Health care sharing stands in continuity with nearly two thousand years of Christian philanthropy, healing, and redemption.”

Watch Dr. Stephen R. Turley discuss this book below.

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