CMF CURO, Health Sharing, and Health Insurance
By Guest Contributor and CMF CURO Member
“You’re pregnant!” is one of the most joy-inducing statements one can hear. However, for many expectant mothers and fathers, it can also be anxiety-inducing. Pregnancy, while a joyful time, is filled with many uncertainties. The last thing an expectant mother should be worrying about is the expenses that come with carrying her child to term.
The total cost an of uncomplicated pregnancy can be over $10,000. Even with health insurance, many families are left footing a hefty bill. In August of 2018, just two months after my husband and I were married, we found out we were expecting our first child. With all of the joy and excitement this news brought, there was also a spirit of anxiety and nervousness that flooded our minds. Both of us had recently joined CMF CURO, a Catholic health care ministry partnered with Samaritan Ministries International to share medical costs. This would be our first experience submitting a medical need with this ministry.
Having only used health insurance plans my whole life, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect with this Catholic health care option or health sharing in general. I had also just moved across the country and was in the process of searching for a doctor. I received advice from the staff at CMF CURO and found a practice that accepted self-pay patients just a few miles from my Michigan home.
Prenatal Care as a CMF CURO Member
When we arrived at my first prenatal appointment, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy the process was. I had been dreading being asked the question “Do you have health insurance?” because my membership with a health sharing ministry meant that, in fact, I did not.
Being members of CMF CURO and Samaritan Ministries, we were making a leap and trusting that we’d be taken care of. When I answered that I was a self-pay patient, the clerk behind the desk simply handed me a form to agree to terms of service. For the entirety of my prenatal care, we worked with the billing department to obtain itemized bills in order to submit our need for sharing, and we paid a pre-agreed upon rate. The billing department representative with whom we spoke, had never worked with members of a health-sharing ministry before. Nevertheless, we were accommodated and able to get what we needed to share our need.
Labor and Delivery as a CMF CURO Member
CMF CURO encouraged me to obtain a quote from the hospital where I planned to deliver. My husband and I did so and were able to receive shares from other members to pay for the birth well before my due date. Because we were considered to be self-pay patients, the hospital gave us a 75% discount on fees for the delivery. These discounts were applied towards our $300 “Initial Unshared Amount”, making all of our pregnancy-related bills 100% sharable.
With any need submitted on Samaritan Classic, including pregnancy, members are responsible for paying the first $300 of the total need amount. In other words, if you were to group all of our pregnancy-related medical bills together, we were responsible for paying the first $300 of the total bill, and then the ministry would share the remaining amount. However, if a discount is obtained, it counts dollar for dollar against this Initial Unshared Amount. This was a huge sigh of relief!
An Unexpected Trip to the ER
At 36 weeks, I slipped on ice and took a fall. Thankfully, the worst that came of that was moderate bruising on my right leg. Because I was so far along, I was instructed by my health care provider to go to the emergency room. There, they monitored me for a few hours to ensure that both baby and I were stable. I had very little nervousness anticipating the ER visit cost since my first CMF CURO sharing experience thus far had been relatively hassle-free. This made my second experience submitting a need feel much easier. A few days after my fall, I was contacted by a representative from CMF CURO to make sure I was okay. They offered prayers for me and my baby.
Two Weeks Late, and One Epidural Later
My due date came and went with no baby. My hopes for a natural birth were crushed when I was induced almost two weeks after my baby’s estimated arrival. When my husband and I arrived at the hospital, I made the grueling decision to get an epidural. This decision ultimately added a few thousand dollars to my hospital bill. I knew it was the right decision for me and that it would be 100% sharable.
My bundle of joy finally arrived at 42 weeks weighing 8lbs 8oz and measuring a whopping 22” long. It was truly a joyful experience to share the new life of our little one with the CMF CURO community. We received numerous cards along with our monthly shares.
Ultimately, being a member of CMF CURO allowed me to fearlessly seek the best care during my first pregnancy. They helped me not have to worry about exceeding a certain number of doctor’s visits as is common with many health insurance plans, and I was able to share the joy of my pregnancy with other members in the ministry. I was able to call the staff at CMF CURO whenever I needed advice and was prayed for daily. We have complete confidence in CMF CURO’s prenatal care. I look forward to the sharing experience for my next pregnancy, because I know my baby and I will receive the care we need.
Mariah Buzza is a survivor of abuse within the Church and writes on topics of healing and personal encounters with grace. She remains a practicing Catholic and is employed by the Christ Medicus Foundation. She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley in 2018 with a bachelors of arts in Political Science and currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA with her family.