Samaritan's Provider Relations team works to keep your medical bills low

By Mark Zander, Samaritan Ministries CEO  ·  Jul 14, 2022

Second in a series.

In the first article in this series, I discussed the rising medical costs we all are facing. In this article, I’ll look more closely at what Samaritan is doing to help manage those rising costs.

First, know that you have a health care ally! Samaritan Ministries is not only side-by-side with you in navigating the complex health industry, but we’re out in front of the economic challenge, working on your behalf with providers every day.

In this article, I want to introduce you to Samaritan’s Provider Relations team and the amazing work they are doing every day. This should be not only valuable for our members who have been in Samaritan™ Classic and Samaritan™ Basic, but those members who have been part of Samaritan™ Given™ and are now participating in one of the other two programs.

Millions more dollars saved

In 2020, Samaritan Ministries made the decision to bring Samaritan Classic and Samaritan Basic member-provider price negotiations in-house, putting it under the care of our Provider Relations team. Since July 2020, our Provider Relations team has saved members an impressive $50 million dollars over and above savings already negotiated by members. The team is currently averaging over $3 million dollars of additional savings each month, which equates to negotiating almost 20 percent more in discounts on members’ larger bills.

These results are even more impressive when considering that Provider Relations is only able to help negotiate on approximately 10 percent of total Classic-Basic Needs. But because these 10 percent are larger Needs (more than $2,000), they represent almost 75 percent of total Classic-Basic medical costs that make these saving levels possible. This benefits the entire membership by prolonging the time between Share increase requests and proration. It also sets pricing structures with providers that end up helping to reduce bills lower than $2,000.

Members continue to do a terrific job negotiating the other 90 percent of Needs, which are less than $2,000, generating an average discount of 40 percent. We praise God for the time and effort members are putting into negotiating with the help of tools like the health resource center and the fair-price reward, especially now that discounts no longer offset the Classic $400 individual unshareable amount. It’s so encouraging seeing the passion members have for doing their part in controlling the costs. Our hope is we can provide you with more tools to help you be even more effective.

Provider Relations efforts

So, what is our Provider Relations team doing to generate savings over and above what members are able to negotiate?

  • They are constantly studying health care pricing and costs.
  • They have diligently worked to acquire deep provider knowledge and are equipped with facts and insights that aid in negotiation.
  • They continue to seek cost-containment ideas and innovative ways to lower costs.
  • They work every day to build positive relationships with providers on behalf of our members and Samaritan overall.

While it’s easy to be critical of providers’ finance and billing departments, people who work in these areas are under a lot of pressure these days. At this point, it’s also vital to mention that all of us at Samaritan Ministries are working to redeem health care, not just be critical of it! We want to help transform health care for the good of both patients and those providing services so that mission, ministry, and genuine care are at the center of the patient experience.

As part of the Provider Relations team, Kristen helps to keep bills low. (Hannah Gow/Samaritan Ministries)

We also want to mention that there are some amazing people working in health care. Just like us, they’re trying to make a positive difference, and they’re facing pressure and challenges from numerous directions. We want them to know that we’re seeking to work together with them for the good of patients. We’re a team—not enemies or competitors—with all those likewise working for genuine, positive change in this industry.

Challenges for providers

Let’s now look at just a few challenges providers are facing:

  • Profit pressure from corporations
  • Inadequate payment levels from government insurance programs like Medicare and Medicaid
  • Uncompensated care from patients who do not pay

Recognizing this situation, our Provider Relations team brings a Christ-compassionate approach to this secular-oriented activity, working to love, care for, and support both members and providers through their negotiation efforts. Provider Relations is not only saving members money but also pursuing our Purpose and Mission of loving God, loving one another, and redeeming health care as they work each day.

How Provider Relations helps

So, how does Provider Relations help you if you have a Need?

First, the team is consistently reviewing Classic and Basic Needs over $2,000 to determine if it can step in and deliver even greater discounts based on provider facts and insights available to them. They will reach out to you directly in those situations to come alongside you in negotiations.

Second, if you have a Need over $2,000 and want to contact Provider Relations for price negotiation guidance, you can email the team at [email protected] and team members will connect with you.

Third, our Provider Relations team assists members in understanding and utilizing cost-saving health resources available directly to members—resources like HealthCare Bluebook™. Time and again we’ve seen the cost difference in providers even in the same town can result in thousands of dollars in savings to the ministry. (More to come on this topic in part three of this series!)

And, when member resources like HealthCare Bluebook don’t have provider data for your procedure or area, members can email Provider Relations at [email protected]. That team will let you know if they have additional, current data on any providers in your area to help.

Potential for more innovation

Hopefully this dive into the work of our Provider Relations team will bring more insight to you as we continue this cost-containment journey together. The team is doing an amazing job saving money on your behalf, and there is great potential for even more cost-containment innovation as we go forward. The team is also impacting the Kingdom of God each day as they work with and minister to the provider community. What a blessing they are to Samaritan Ministries!

In part three, we will offer more guidance on what you can do to help contain costs for your family and fellow members.

Mark Zander is president and CEO of Samaritan Ministries.