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  • Samaritan Ministries
  • PO BOX 3618
  • Peoria, IL 61612

Popular Questions

  • We believe Jesus Christ is the Ultimate Provider for all of life’s needs. Individuals and families have the primary responsibility for their own health and decisions related to seeking health care. When they have burdens that are greater than they can bear, we firmly believe that the body of Christ, at the local Christian church level first, and then in a broad corporate sense, should bear one another’s burdens to fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2). Our monthly newsletter seeks to teach these principles as an integral part of our Christian worldview, not only to our members, but also to all the Body of Christ, to whom we minister by example and exhortation.

  • No. Insurance is a contract where one party agrees to be legally responsible for and accept another party’s risk of loss, in exchange for a payment called a premium. Health care sharing is an arrangement where members share one another’s medical expenses through voluntary giving, not because of legal obligation. We are not licensed or registered by any insurance board or department, since we are not practicing the business of insurance. We do not assess applicants’ health risks, because neither the ministry nor the members are assuming financial liability for any other member’s risk. There is no deadline or cutoff date to sign up for SMI; you can join anytime. There is no “policy term” ... your membership continues as long as you meet your responsibilities.

  • When health care costs are paid by someone other than the person receiving care, typically an insurance company or the government, the Biblical model outlined in the answer to FAQ "What is Samaritan Ministries’ philosophy of health care?" can be undermined. We believe many of the current problems with the health care system are the direct result of restricting personal freedom and responsibility through dependence on third-party payers. Samaritan Ministries is designed to allow Christians to help one another while maintaining personal responsibility.

  • Samaritan Ministries is not restricted from operating in any of the 50 United States, U.S. territories, or any foreign country, and has no legal barriers of which we are aware. Samaritan Ministries International is recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) charity. Health care sharing also satisfies the mandates of the federal Affordable Care Act. Members are to complete the IRS created Form 8965 which indicates what portion of the year they were a member of a health care sharing ministry.

  • You can join anytime. There is no deadline or cutoff date.

  • Starting in 2014, the law requires individuals to have government-approved health insurance or pay a penalty. However, the law also contains a provision that members of health care sharing ministries are not subject to the insurance requirement.

  • For 2017 taxes which are due in 2018 (and for 2015’s & 2016's taxes), the IRS created Form 8965 which members are to complete indicating what portion of the year they were a member of a health care sharing ministry. It is likely that a same or similar form will be used in future years. If you are not required to file a tax return, you won’t need to do anything. SMI will notify members of any future changes as soon as the IRS announces them.

  • As stated in the answer to FAQ "Is Samaritan Ministries’ health care sharing some kind of Christian health insurance?," Samaritan Ministries is not an insurance company, so we have no premiums. Insurance companies collect premiums that they keep until the money is needed for claims. From these funds they also pay all salaries and other operating expenses, build office buildings, pay executive bonuses and dividends, etc. Policy holders must sort through company reports to know how much of their money actually goes to pay for medical treatments.

    Members of Samaritan Ministries retain possession of their money until it is needed. Eleven months each year they are assigned a share that they send, not to the ministry, but directly to another member who has a qualified medical need. They know how much of their money is going for medical needs from the moment they put their share in the mail.

  • One month each year every Samaritan household sends their monthly share amount to the Samaritan office. In addition, new members send a start-up administrative fee along with their first month’s share to the office. The start-up administrative fee is non-refundable. In their first year, new members may also be asked to send their second and occasional third month’s shares to the office, depending on administrative needs. Unique services provided to the members may be paid for by other means as determined by the Board of Directors. An audit of ministry finances is conducted by an independent, outside auditing firm each year to verify integrity in how administrative money is handled.

  • As explained in the answer to FAQ "Is Samaritan Ministries’ health care sharing some kind of Christian health insurance?", one reason Samaritan Ministries is not an insurance company is that there is no transfer of risk. This means that when a member receives medical care, there is no “claim” that is owed. There is simply a medical need. Samaritan members send proof of their medical expenses to the Samaritan Ministries office (or they can submit the need online via their Samaritan Dashboard), where the need will be evaluated according to the Guidelines. Then the qualified needs are shared among the members. Again, this giving is voluntary and does not involve any legal obligation (claim) on the ministry or the other members.

  • The concept of a deductible indicates that there are some amounts for which you are responsible, and some amounts for which an insurance company is responsible. In a sharing ministry each member is always responsible for all of his own medical expenses.

    Once again, Samaritan Ministries does not offer insurance, so our procedures are different. At Samaritan, a medical need below the initial unshareable amount of $300 for Samaritan Classic or $1,500 for Samaritan Basic is not shared by the members. When needs exceed the initial unshareable amount, those amounts are shareable up to $250,000 for Samaritan Classic and $236,500 for Samaritan Basic. Sharing of needs continues past the maximum shareable amount if a member is enrolled in Save to Share™.

  • Members deal directly with the providers of their choice, as “cash-pay” patients. There are no “preferred providers” or required networks, therefore, no “out of network” penalties. Members are free to work with their providers to determine the best treatments for their families.

  • Most providers accept cash-pay patients and sometimes offer significant discounts because they don’t have to deal with a third-party payment system. If a provider seems unwilling to offer competitive rates for their services to cash-pay patients, Samaritan can assist members with patient advocacy services to negotiate better rates and improve the relationship between the member and the provider.

  • Sometimes we can overlap needs from two months so that there is enough money for all the needs. However, if all needs cannot be met, we use a prorating method to evenly distribute the burden. For example, if there is only enough share money for 90 percent of the needs submitted for a particular month, only 90 percent of each need would be shared by the membership for that month. If prorating occurs three months in a row without being reversed, the Board must propose a share increase to the members for a vote. See Section VI.D of the Guidelines “Balancing Needs and Shares/Proration” for more details. Also see FAQ “How are the monthly share amounts changed?". 

  • Members must be professing Christians who attend a Christian church regularly. They must agree to abstain from sinful practices such as drug abuse and sexual immorality. They must be accountable to a pastor or other Christian church leader for the needs they submit. For a detailed statement of requirements, consult Section I.

  • Yes, and we currently have missionary members from all over the world. Overseas SMI members must have a means for timely and securely receiving and depositing gifts from members when they have a need, receiving the monthly newsletter, and sending out their monthly share in U.S. currency. Usually overseas missionaries must have a stateside contact for these purposes. See Section III.E.

  • Every member sends a share each month. Eleven months of the year, this share is sent to a member with a need. The other month it is sent to the SMI office to support administrative services. Along with their application, new members also send a start-up administrative fee of $200 to the SMI office along with their first month’s share. The start-up administrative fee is non-refundable. New members will be asked to send their second, and sometimes third, month’s shares to the SMI office as well.

    Samaritan Classic Membership

    Currently, the monthly share amounts for the four primary levels of household participation are as follows for Samaritan Classic members:

    • Age 29 and younger: a one-person membership shares $160; a two-person membership shares $440 (two members of the same nuclear family); a three or more persons family membership shares $495; and a widowed or divorced parent with children shares $305.
    • Age 30 and older: a one-person membership shares $220; a two-person membership shares $440 (two members of the same nuclear family); a three or more persons family membership shares $495; and a widowed or divorced parent with children shares $305.

    Samaritan Basic Membership

    The monthly share amounts for Samaritan Basic members are determined by the oldest active head of household and are as follows:

    • Age 0 – 29: a one-person membership shares $100; a two-person membership shares $200 (two members of the same nuclear family); a three or more persons family membership shares $250.
    • Age 30 – 44: a one-person membership shares $120; a two-person membership shares $240 (two members of the same nuclear family); a three or more persons family membership shares $300.
    • Age 45 – 59: a one-person membership shares $140; a two-person membership shares $280 (two members of the same nuclear family); a three or more persons family membership shares $350.
    • Age 60 and older: a one-person membership shares $160; a two-person membership shares $320 (two members of the same nuclear family); a three or more persons family membership shares $400.
    • Note: There is no pricing for widowed or divorced parents with children under Samaritan Basic. A sponsorship program exists to provide for those whose financial situation might otherwise hinder their ability to participate. See Section V.C of the Guidelines for more details.

  • The monthly share can only change if first the Board of Directors proposes a change and then the members approve by a supermajority. See Section IV.A.2 for more details.

  • For each medical need, the maximum shareable amount for members participating in Samaritan Classic is $250,000. For members participating in Samaritan Basic, the maximum shareable amount is $236,500. The need has to meet the Guidelines before it can be shared. SMI members are also eligible to participate in another sharing ministry, Save to Share™, where needs exceeding the maximum shareable amount may be shared. (See Save to Share™ Guidelines.) Massachusetts’ members are required to participate in Save to Share™. There is no limit on the number of needs one person may have shared.

  • There are no lifetime or yearly maximum amounts eligible for sharing. There is no limit on the number of needs that an individual member or household may have.

  • Neither your membership nor monthly share amount is affected by the amount of medical expenses you have.

  • In general, needs for illnesses or injuries resulting in visits to medical doctors, emergency rooms, testing facilities, or hospitals are shared on a per person, per incident basis. See Sections VI-IX for more details.

  • Needs resulting from conditions that existed prior to your membership are usually not shared (see Section VII for details). Routine checkups and preventative care are considered items that can be included in your budget and are not shared. Most dental, audiological, and optical related needs are not shared. If any of these needs that do not qualify for sharing should become a burden to your family, the Special Prayer Needs ministry may be able to provide assistance. See Section V.A. A detailed explanation of the limitations on needs shared is found in Sections VIII and IX.

  • NO, in fact there are several ways in which that need might be shared. First, the second cancer’s expenses would only be ineligible for sharing if it “resulted from” the first cancer. It is quite possible that a second cancer is unrelated to the first and thus eligible for sharing. Second, except for Type 1 diabetes, all conditions you had before your membership may be qualified for sharing after a time without symptoms or treatments (see Section VII of the Guidelines for details). Finally, even expenses that are not eligible under the basic sharing program may be shared among our members through the Special Prayer Needs ministry. See Section V.A.

  • For a pregnancy that begins after the start of your membership, maternity needs are shared like any other need. For a pregnancy that began prior to your membership, those expenses may only be shared as a Special Prayer Need. There must be at least two people on the membership for a maternity need to be shared (two members of the same nuclear family), and a $5000 sharing limit on maternity needs shared under Samaritan Basic. Special provisions are given for home births. See section IX of the Guidelines for more details.

  • The types of needs that qualify for sharing can be found in the Guidelines. Consult Section X to familiarize yourself with the general procedures for submitting your need and Sections VI-IX for the specific requirements for sharing certain types of needs. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call your Member Services team at 877-764-2426.

  • Whether you’re on vacation or a missions trip, bills from medical treatments occurring overseas can be shared. They must be written or translated into English and the price converted to U.S. dollars. They are handled the same as bills from treatment in the U.S. in all other respects.

  • You explain to your care providers (doctors, hospitals, etc.) that you do not have insurance and that you are a cash-pay patient. The providers send their bills directly to you. You organize the bills, complete a Need Processing Form, and submit them to Samaritan Ministries. We will then share your need with the membership, and the members assigned to your need will be asked to send their monthly shares directly to you through the mail. You then use the money you receive to pay your bills.

  • Sometimes reductions in charges are obtained after the full amount of a need has already been assigned to the members, and the member with the need receives more than he still owes on his bills. Because these shares were given in trust that they would be used only for the medical need being shared, a member receiving money has the responsibility to be faithful to that trust by seeing that any extra is sent to another member with an unmet need or to the Samaritan Ministries’ office to assist with the cost of negotiating the reductions. The SMI administrative office directs the members where to send any extra shares they receive.

  • Because members understand our mutual sharing as a giving ministry, sometimes they give more than their share amount in a variety of ways. One way extra giving occurs is by members sending more than the assigned amount to those in need. These extra gifts from members are meant for those to whom they are given and are not expected to be sent on to anyone else.

  • The sharing turnaround time is normally within two to three months from receipt of your medical bills and required information. If your Need Processing Form is correct and complete, and there are no ongoing financial negotiations with providers, your need will be shared at the beginning of the second month after we receive your need. For example, a need received by the end of September would be processed in October and shared at the beginning of November.

  • SMI will provide you with a checklist (via postal mail and in your Samaritan Dashboard) so that you can keep track of the members assigned to send to your need. If someone on your list has stopped sharing and will not be sending to you, that amount will be reassigned the following month to a member who is sharing. You must be current in your sharing responsibilities and other member requirements to have a need shared by the membership.

  • No, we have chosen not to have any sharing provision for death, beyond the related medical expenses.

  • We incorporated as an Illinois not-for-profit organization in September 1991. The next three years were dedicated to research and development. We have been actively sharing needs since September 1994.

  • God is the only One Who has enough resources to provide for all of the needs of everyone. He has worked through Samaritan members in amazing ways to provide for our members’ medical needs, but He also has provided through other means.

    Past contributions by Samaritan members assisting one another are not any guarantee of future actions. There is not a promise/contract by SMI or the members to contribute toward any need you might have in the future. The only promise by SMI is to make qualifying medical needs known to the membership, so SMI members can give voluntary gifts to those members with needs.

  • As of August 2017, there are more than 69,000 member households (more than 229,000 individuals).

    Can you provide any references for your ministry?

    If you call 1-888-268-4377 we will attempt to provide names and numbers of members in your area who have had a need shared.

  • Yes. Nonmembers who desire to pray for the ministry, follow its activities, and be blessed by the articles and testimonies, but not share financially in medical needs, can receive the newsletter each month for a suggested donation of $12 per year.

  • If you call 1-888-268-4377 we will attempt to provide names and numbers of members in your area who have had a need shared.

  • Balancing Needs and Shares

    Each month there is a fixed amount of shares available from members that will be sent to meet needs. The amount of needs in a given month may fluctuate and be greater or less than the shares available.

    When there are more Shares than Needs

    When there are more shares available than the amount of needs submitted for a month, some needs already received for the following month will be shared a month early. If there is still a surplus of share money when it is time to allocate the month’s shares, the share amount for that month will be reduced to the amount needed. The most recent time this happened was in February 2017, when assigned share amounts were reduced by 5 percent.

    When there are more Needs than Shares

    In months when more needs are submitted than the amount of share money available, we use a process we call prorating. For example, if $1,000,000 in shareable needs are submitted, but there is only $900,000 in share money available, then only 90 percent of each need will be shared.

    If there is extra share money available the following month, the surplus will be used to help with the prorated needs. The other members are also encouraged to give additional gifts, if they are able. In addition, many members whose needs have been prorated have found that their health care providers will reduce their charges to the prorated amounts, or the members may receive additional money from unexpected sources. God has many ways of providing.

    In twenty years of ministry, we’ve found that even prorated needs are met through generous extra giving and through the many other ways in which God provides.

    Changing the Share Amounts

    When it is necessary to prorate needs three months in a row, members are presented with a proposal to vote on a new share amount. If 60 percent of those voting approve the proposal, the share is changed.

    For more details on how Shares and Needs are balanced see section VI.D. of the ministry Guidelines.

  • Humble Beginnings

    In September 1994, Ted Pittenger enrolled his family as the first members of Samaritan Ministries International. The first administrative headquarters was an 11′ x 15′ office that had been built in one corner of a chicken coop 50 feet from the Pittenger’s home in Washington, Illinois. (The chickens had been gone for several years.) Ted served without pay and was the ministry’s only official staff member. When he needed extra help with graphic design or proofreading, or someone to be a “sounding board,” he relied on his wife, Shari. When there were envelopes to stuff, he enlisted the aid of their three oldest children, Meg, Bree, and Jason.

    There were several times in the early days of the ministry when it appeared that it might not become established. But Ted and others persevered, learning from mistakes and challenges that arose. Today more than 68,000 households (more than 224,000 people) from all 50 states and several foreign countries, are actively sharing health care needs of more than $23 million each month. In a time of rapidly increasing health care costs, we continue to be amazed at how low the monthly share has been, and realize that it is not because of our wisdom, but God’s blessing.

    The story of how the ministry has grown is a testimony to God’s faithfulness in working through His people both before and since the first members joined many years ago.

  • Samaritan Ministries emphasizes certain Biblical principles that we believe are basic to the life of every believer and thus are foundational to the effective function of our health care sharing ministry:

    • Jesus Christ is the only adequate Provider for every need we have. He is the One Who created everything, and He is the only One Who has enough resources to meet every need. No human organization is large enough to do this—no company and no government. He gives some of His provision through human channels, but He is ultimately the only One we can trust.
    • A medical need (or any other need) involves more than money. The physical world is not all there is. Human beings are more than a collection of cells. We are made in the image of God and have needs that go beyond our physical bodies. When we have a medical need, there is more involved than money or mere physical healing. Samaritan members pray for one another for all aspects of members’ needs, and we hear daily from members with needs telling how God has answered these prayers.
    • Believers in Jesus Christ are responsible to first use the resources He has given us to meet the needs of ourselves and our families. When a need occurs that exceeds what He has provided, other members of the Body of Christ should show His love by using the resources God has given them to help in the same way they would want to be helped.
    • The local Christian church should be the next “line of defense” to provide for the needs of its own members. SMI is intended to support and supplement this work of the local body, not replace it. We seek to avoid undermining what should be done locally. We also depend on the leaders of the local Christian church to provide accountability for the SMI members under their care.
    • God created man as His image bearer and the crown of His creation. Right worship of God requires respecting His image in all people for all of life, including health care. The Sixth Commandment, “You shall not murder,” requires the preservation of human life, and the subduing of all passions and avoiding all occasions, temptations, and practices which tend to the unjust taking of life. We must live according to Biblical ethics in all aspects of health care.