I mentioned in Part 3 that my initial response to my Crohn’s disease was that it was a curse. I was afraid that my life would be focused on managing this chronic disease and its effects, like histoplasmosis. However, God quickly showed me I was wrong. And as I continued to trust Him, His blessings started pouring in.
To start, I continue to praise the Lord that I contracted histoplasmosis. Why? Because I am unable to take most medications to treat Crohn’s disease – any immunosuppressant drugs. Why would I be happy about this? Because I would most likely be taking these medications and receiving Remicade treatments to this day, 7 years later, to keep flair-ups at bay. And here I am in remission without medications, by the grace and mercy of God. Obviously this has saved us hundreds of thousands of dollars. One Remicade treatment cost about $8000-$10,000 without insurance, and that was the price about 10 years ago.
I received these treatments every 8-10 weeks. You do the math. Better yet, I’ll save you the time:
$10,000 X 5/year = $50,000 X 7 years = $350,000 Plus the cost of oral medications.
(Yes, most hospitals and doctors give a pay out of pocket or pay at service discount rate. In my experience a 30% discount is common at some Indianapolis hospitals. But even if it was a 50% discount, it would still cost $175,000, money we didn’t have just hiding under our mattress. 😛 )
You are now thinking, what about health insurance? Well, that brings me to the next “curse” in my initial viewpoint.
Crohn’s disease = pre-existing condition = denied insurance.
After Brett and I married, I was receiving full health benefits through my employer Health and Nutrition Technology. Once I delivered Kherington, our first born, I became a stay-at-home-mom and only worked about 8 hours/week. Consequently, I lost my health benefits. This was late 2011, and Brett had only been working for his non-profit film company, House of Grace Films, for a year and was receiving health insurance through a private company. Insurance companies cannot deny pre-existing conditions through group employee insurance, but when I tried to apply for health benefits through Brett’s private insurance, I was instantly denied. Never mind the fact that I was in remission and not taking any medication, nor was I even seeing my GI doctor. Once the company sees Crohn’s disease and some random fungus disease that I was hospitalized for, I received a polite “sorry.”
I applied for Cobra for a few months after delivering Kherington, but it was over $600/month and was not going to fit in our budget. I found the government assisted program for people with pre-existing conditions, however, you weren’t eligible to apply until you were uninsured for 6 months. I had no other option. So I took a risk and put my trust in God instead. Again, by God’s grace, I did not have any doctor visits in the 6 month period. The 6 month time frame was coming up. I had one week to go until I was officially uninsured for 6 months….and the government declared that they would not be taking any new applicants.
I was ticked. Devastated. My first thought? I guess Brett and I will not be having any more children for awhile. Of course, this closure of new applicants was only the beginning of setting the stage for Obamacare. It was mid-to late 2012 at this point.
Now what, God? I continued several more months without insurance. I literally was out of options. Until a friend gave me a copy of a Thriving Family magazine with an ad for a Christian health care sharing ministry called Samaritan Ministries. I went to the their website and requested free information.
And what I read was too good to be true. Samaritan Ministries “is a Biblical approach to paying for health care, based on passages such as Galatians 6. Verse two says, ‘Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.’ That law is the royal law of loving one another.
Here’s how the need sharing process works in a nutshell:
Each member commits to sending a set “Share” amount each month. These “Shares” are sent directly through the mail from one household to another, to the members with “Needs”. Samaritan Ministries uses a database that randomly matches Shares to Needs, so that the Sharing is coordinated and Shares go to the appropriate members with Needs.”
Wow! After getting over the initial reaction of “this sounds too good to be true,” I was almost convinced that this is what the Lord wanted me to do and was excited to be living out first century Christianity.
2 years later I have been so blessed by this ministry. As of today, Brett, Kherinton, and Damon have been added as well. My fear of not having children for awhile was gone. A few months after joining Samaritan Ministries, I became pregnant with Damon, and all my prenatal, labor, and delivery costs were paid for by other Christians throughout the country. Not only was I getting personal checks but personal cards and notes. Tears were streaming down my face the first card and check I opened. Everyday for a couple weeks the cards would come. I was the little kid looking out the window waiting and listening for the mailman to come down my street.
Meanwhile, every month I am thrilled to get out my checkbook and send our monthly “share.” This isn’t just another “bill” we have to pay. Or look at our pay stubs frustrated to see how much money is being taken out. (If Brett and the kids had stayed on private insurance with the Affordable Care Act being enacted, their premium would be over $600/month).
I send our monthly “share” to a specific person with a specific health condition. For example, we sent our check with a picture Kherington colored to little “Jane” (not her real name) who has leukemia. Or “John” who broke his leg. Or “Rachel” who is having a baby like myself. No money is going to an insurance company who is filling their own pockets and who knows what else!
Interested in finding out more about Samaritan? Download this information packet.
God is using my Crohn’s disease journey to fulfill true Biblical community. He has even given us the opportunity to have our story filmed as a “My Samaritan Story” on their website.
Watch the video below of Brett and me telling our testimony.
Oh, and last year at the Christian Worldview Film Festival (CWVFF), Samaritan Ministries sponsored 3 of the 4 awards that The War Within won. So this year, Brett and I were part of the Samaritan ad in the CWVFF’s program.
I don’t know if we would have joined Samaritan Ministries if I did not have Crohn’s disease. But I have faith that God does know all things and works out all things for the good of those that love Him. Therefore, I will continue to thank Jesus for this “curse” that is day by day turning into more blessings then I could have imagined.
Brace yourself… my next post will send chills up and down your spine as I share how God used this journey to not only bless me and my family but someone else and their family.