Man uses Christian network to pay for melanoma surgery



Posted on January 5, 2010 at 8:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 6 at 12:17 PM

Bob and Paula Singleton still have the heartfelt, prayer-filled letters that came with payment for Mr. Singleton's melanoma surgery last year.

"It is so warm and friendlier than an insurance check," Mrs. Singleton said while reading a well-wish that read "our prayers are with yours that the cancer is totally gone."

It wasn't an insurance company at all that covered every last cent of his medical costs, but Christians from all over the country. It was all part of a Christian health care sharing program called Samaritan Ministries.

"The idea is that as Christians we share each other's burdens," Mr. Singleton said.  "And we feel that even our health care that we pay to doctors are things that Christians can share with each other too."

The Singletons are both self employed. Mrs. Singleton is a CPA and Mr. SIngleton is a music composer who once worked on music direction for the children's show Barney.

After years of paying for what they thought was overpriced insurance, they looked for an alternative. 

There are several versions of a Christian health care network. In all of them, people send a low monthly fee to another person in need. The network decides where to send the checks.

"So we've kind of cut out the middleman," Singleton said. "The checks go directly to the people who need it. And if we have a claim, the checks are written directly to us and we receive those checks and usually we get a card and a prayer from people who are sending the money."

The Singletons pay around $300a month but have saved thousands a year compared to what they used to pay for a private health insurance plan.

"We were paying $14,000 a year in insurance for a family plan and now it's about $4,000 a year, and that was with a $10,000 deductible," Mrs. Singleton said.

Because the amount of money participants pay is under the taxable gift limit, the plans are  legal - at least until the government requires Americans to have insurance or pay a fine. 

The Singletons said they might be perfectly willing to pay that penalty, saying they would rather trust in God and other Christians for medical coverage.