Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sharing Each Others' Burdens: Samaritan Healthcare.

Until about a year ago Brendon and I have been on health insurance through his work. For us, it was super frustrating each time we needed to use the insurance for a major medical need, like say having a baby. Tons of bills come in, and you're supposedly paying a deductible and then your insurance is covering the rest or a percentage of it. In our case, we had a high deductible, and then our insurance paid everything over that, supposedly. In the end though we definitely paid more than our deductible for each birth because insurance decided certain things weren't covered, which seemed ridiculous. And on top of paying an arm and a leg per need, we were also paying a sizable chunk to insurance each month out of our paycheck, in addition to whatever his work paid, which I believe was about the same amount. The cost was crazy expensive in our book, and it was so vague as to what was covered (and a headache to gain clarification) and how much we would really end up paying for an accident or a baby's birth. Additionally we didn't love that we (and work) paid all this money to a company every month, and honestly we didn't know what they did with it. I mean clearly it wasn't benefiting us. And our prices were only raising each year. The laundry list goes on... Bottom line we were ready for something different.

Back in the fall, we decided to look at the Christian cost shares about which we had heard. By cost share, I mean that believers in Christ follow the example of the Acts 2 church, pooling our resources together to help whoever is in need. It's not a guarantee, but it has a very strong track record. And in our experience, insurance is definitely not a guarantee.

(By the way, these cost shares that I'll mention are expempt from the tax that President Obama placed on those not partaking in his healthcare plan; they count as healthcare - meaning no tax penalty.)

The two cost shares we looked at were MediShare and Samaritan Ministries. When we looked at MediShare, we honestly weren't impressed because it's modeled to look like insurance, and in case you didn't fully grasp, we were spent (literally) with insurance. Also our friends that were on it had a bad experience and had to wait 8 months to be reimbursed for their daughter's birth. I'm sure others have had a better experience, but nonetheless we decided against MediShare.

Then we looked at Samaritan. The way they are modeled is not like insurance, which was a plus for us. They send you a "need" each month and you write an encouraging note and check to that person to cover their medical need. (Beforehand the person with the need submits their bills, etc. I'll get to that.) We spoke to some friends of friends' who were (and are) currently on Samaritan who sang it's praises. They had over $64,000 in medical bills covered in full with Samaritan! Everything from children's births to a kidney issue in one of the children to an accident. We decided to go for it and give Samaritan a try! 

We have now been on Samaritan for almost a year. (It'll be a year in December, I believe.) We are loving it. We are so thankful to be able to send money directly to the person in need and to send a card encouraging them as well. We are also asked to pray for them, and what a joy it is to do so. We are thankful to have a personal connection with the other cost share members to whom we are sending our monthly share! 

And now that we have had a "need," I can speak to the other side of the equation as well. At the end of April, Brendon went to the ER by ambulance (middle of the night) for food poisoning. (It was bad! But clearly he ended up being ok!) 

By mid-May we were receiving medical bills. When we received them, I called the companies asking for a discount since we are considered cash pay. Everyone but the ambulance gave us 20-40% discount! Is it not amazing how much insurance increases healthcare cost? (By the way, seeking a discount is something you are expected to do, and it's super easy to do so. It was never a hassle for me.)

I submitted these new totals to Samaritan by the end of the month. In July our need was published (It takes a month), and checks came in for every penny that month! Because we were able to discount our bill significantly, the $300 we were expected to pay towards our need was waived. 

Samaritan was super helpful whenever I called with questions. It was truly a blessing to talk to them! They were also very clear on what to expect, who to expect checks from, etc. The process couldn't have been easier! The conversation was very personal AND personable!

This video explains more about Samaritan if you are interested in learning more -- 

We are so so please with Samaritan and thankful to be a part of this cost share! This is not a sponsored post by any means. I really just want to share our experience. However if you decide to join because of this post, please be sure to mention James and Ashleigh Lankford as your referrals. :)

Are any of you a part of cost shares? What's been your experience? 

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ballet, standing, and some answered prayers

A new semester has started! We are in full swing with explorer school (what we call our homeschool preschool) and ballet! Lilleigh is loving every minute of dance! Mommy does too! It's through our city, and not only is the facility nicer than our last dance place, but the waiting area is more baby-friendly - clean and carpeted! 

In the photo Lilleigh has the bow.

On the note of dance, I totally have to brag on God for a moment. So I am quickly seeing a challenge of honeschooling is little to no Mommy time. We really feel homeschool is where God is calling us, so that's not a question. It's just a matter of - how do I keep myself filled so I don't run dry? I've been praying about this - asking God to help me find a regular time to work out and to find regular time for myself, whether it's reading His Word at Starbucks (dreamy) or going to Target solo, just some time each month that I can look forward to without my precious girls. 

Answer #1 came last Tuesday. Since Lilleigh's dance class is through our city, it's at one of our rec centers, which means I am within 20 feet of a work out facility, and my toddler is in someone else's care for an hour each week, but alas there's the issue of what to do with Adeline. That's where my friend Jenny, who also has a little girl in dance with Lilleigh, comes in. She offered to watch Adeline each week during ballet while I do the elliptical! Seriously? She's a yoga instructor, so by 7 AM she's completed her work out each day. (Props to her! Can you imagine? With two littles. That's hardcore.) And that allows her to bless me! So thankful!

Then answer #2 came when in an hour of desperation I asked my sweet friend Michelle (who discipled me in college) to watch my girls one morning. I sat at Starbucks and read my bible. I just needed some time with God without someone crawling on top of me or another someone asking every question known to man. It was wonderful. When I got back, she asked me if she could do that for me once a month! I had been praying about this issue that very morning. I jumped on her offer! It is so fun to see God answer prayers. It's not always so clear, but what a gift when it is! He cares about the details!

Speaking of amazing things God is doing, I am taking a discipleship class our church offers on Monday mornings. We've only had one so far, but wow what a blessing! I am excited to practice being more disciplined in my walk and to hear about all that He is doing in others' lives!

Onto Adeline... She crawls fast, and pulls up on everything. Bumps and bruises galore. She's starting to stand unassisted, though she lasts about two seconds. It's so fun though! 

Adeline has also started to drop her morning nap some... Not totally (it may be more because we are on the go so much, actually) but when she does go without her morning nap, she takes looong afternoon naps which is amazing. She also falls asleep in the car after outings some and then stays asleep when I carry her in! It's cray cray. And amazing. Months ago this was unthinkable.

Happy Friday!