Samaritan gains accreditation

by Michael Miller  ·  Feb 20, 2023

Samaritan Ministries has worked hard through its 28-year history to be transparent with members and retain a good reputation in the Body of Christ and among secular authorities and influencers.

The next step in maintaining that reputation has now been taken. Samaritan received accreditation from the independent Healthcare Sharing Accreditation Board (HSAB) effective December 1, 2022.

“This is no small accomplishment,” said Katy Talento, executive director of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries. “It means that Samaritan passed a rigorous vetting process with flying colors. We at the Alliance congratulate them for this accomplishment, which gives Samaritan’s members another reason to feel confident about their health care sharing choice.”

The accreditation also brought congratulations from the Oklahoma insurance commissioner.

“I applaud the health care sharing ministries’ efforts to bring consistent accountability to their industry,” Commissioner Glen Mulready said. “I also congratulate Samaritan for working through the process and receiving their accreditation.”

Anthony Hopp, chief purpose officer of Samaritan, said the achievement is encouraging.

“We are pleased to be recognized for excellence in providing the means for our members to share each other’s health care needs,” Hopp said. “We strive to operate in a manner embodying Christian stewardship and quality service.”

Joel Noble, Samaritan’s director of Public Policy, said that outside recognition of Samaritan as a legitimate organization is “a continuation of what we’ve done for the past 28 years in terms of transparency.”

“This shows what our members already know: that we’re a trustworthy health care sharing ministry,” Joel said.

Thorough review

Before granting accreditation, the HSAB reviews more than 80 of a ministry’s practices in several areas, including:

  • legal structure and governance.
  • organizational management and compensation.
  • conflicts of interest and related party transactions.
  • external communications and marketing.
  • signup processes.
  • written acknowledgments from members.
  • published sharing guidelines.
  • financial condition.
  • financial sharing processes, including processing time, dispute resolution, and appeals.
  • total amounts shared and not shared among members.
  • proper ratio (at least 80 percent) of member contributions being used toward medical expenses vs. administrative expenses.
  • membership contribution guidelines and management processes.
  • availability of audited financial statements and IRS Form 990.

The accreditation, which at this time has only been extended to one other health care sharing ministry, Medishare, will help those ministries receiving it to be separated from organizations with bad practices claiming to be offering health care sharing.

“In the past two or three years, there have been organizations saying they are offering health care sharing but that fail to meet standards that long-standing ministries do,” Joel said.

Those ministries have gotten in hot water with several states after stories of unmet medical needs began surfacing in the news.

Samaritan’s accredited status also can help members who want to share information about the ministry with friends and family.

“Citing Samaritan’s accreditation is an independent, third-party way for members to reassure those they tell about the ministry,” Joel said.

Quality board members

The accreditation board features experienced personnel, including:

  • former Congresswoman Diane Black. Congresswoman Black served as chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee during her tenure and on the House Ways and Means Committee. A registered nurse, she has 40 years of experience in health care.
  • Mary Mayhew, former secretary of the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration under Gov. Ron DeSantis. Mary also served with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and for six years as the Maine Department of Health and Human Services commissioner.
  • former Samaritan Ministries Executive Vice President James Lansberry. James served at Samaritan for 21 years and holds an Executive MBA from Bradley University. He is currently a life and career coach.
  • David Cram, a certified public accountant who specializes in religious nonprofits. David and his wife, Joan, operate an income tax practice focused on serving missionaries, pastors, and the elderly.
  • attorney Josh Heidelman, who has served Christian nonprofits for several years.

Creating the standards has been a multiyear process, starting in 2020. Once that was done, Samaritan began to work on its application. Besides submitting the above information, the ministry also provided several financial documents, audits, 990s, program materials, external communications and marketing materials, and a copy of Samaritan’s Guidelines.

Samaritan’s accreditation will be reviewed annually.

“We need to continue to have written acknowledgments regarding our noninsurance status, transparency in our sharing processes, and transparency in the sharing data that goes to our members,” Joel says. “We also must continue to meet the financial requirement to provide audits and have that available upon public request. We’ll also need to continue to avoid conflicts of interest and maintain proper management and compensation.”

Informing members

As part of maintaining its accreditation, Samaritan has started to publish for its members monthly updates on the previous 12 months of sharing information, including:

  • the prior 12-month average number of days after which eligible member medical expenses were shared after they were submitted by the member to the ministry.
  • the total amount of the eligible medical expenses that were shared by the organization or its members during the prior 12 months.
  • the total dollar amount of eligible expenses submitted by the members to the ministry in the prior 12 months that have not yet been shared, either by the organization or its members, due to insufficient funds. In Samaritan’s case, this is known as prorating Needs.
  • the total amount of regular contributions referred to in the previous point made by members during the prior 12 months.

These numbers can be found monthly in the Samaritan newsletter PDF on your Dashboard.

Michael Miller is editor of the Samaritan Ministries newsletter.