Member uses pre-existing conditions programs, "relentlessly recommends" CHM
By Jim Sherwin, Brasstown, N.C.
My wife, Joan, signed up for the CHM Gold program in Aug. 2016 with a start date of Sept. 1. She was familiar with health cost sharing ministries and one of her doctors had recommended CHM.
Her start date became important because the very next day, Sept. 2, we were heading home from visiting out-of-state family when she suffered a heart attack.
It started with severe abdominal pain and a very rapid heartbeat. After a 10-hour drive we arrived home and she went to bed. Shortly after 10 p.m. she awoke to say she thought something was wrong and that she needed me to take her to the emergency room.
At the hospital we learned the heart attack was caused by a bleeding ulcer that in turn had caused a dangerously low hemoglobin count. She was quickly transferred to a larger hospital in Atlanta, where she was stabilized in the cardiac intensive care unit and was treated for 10 days.
Joan has had heart disease since her 40s and has undergone three open heart surgeries. The most recent procedure was performed in 2004 and with the time that had lapsed since then we didn’t know whether CHM would consider it a pre-existing condition.
I called CHM to explain what had happened, feeling dread that perhaps the ministry wouldn’t be able to help since she had just joined. The lady I spoke with kindly explained that Joan’s heart condition was considered pre-existing, but that CHM has programs to help with these types of expenses under certain circumstances. She encouraged me to submit Joan’s medical records along with her bills and paperwork. (Editor’s note: A pre-existing condition is any medical condition for which you experience signs, symptoms, testing or treatment before joining CHM. Not all bills from pre-existing conditions are eligible for CHM’s programs. For more information, see Guidelines Z and AA or the article about pre-existing conditions in the Oct. 2018 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.)
Another unsettling moment was when I received a phone call from the hospital’s billing office asking about our insurance coverage. I told the caller that Joan was a self-pay patient since she’s a member of CHM, which isn’t an insurance company. To my surprise, the representative’s tone brightened and she cheerfully explained that the bill would be reduced from over $78,000 to about $23,500—a discount of 70 percent!
I was equally astonished when a check for $15,000 arrived from CHM about six weeks later. It was enough to satisfy the monthly payment plan I had arranged with the hospital.
Meanwhile, I learned that that Joan’s expenses exceeding $15,000 would be included on the Prayer Page, which is another program for pre-existing conditions and appears in each monthly issue of Heartfelt Magazine. In this way members would be able to send voluntary donations above and beyond their regular financial gifts to help us pay the rest of Joan’s medical bills.
Another profound blessing was that we received numerous cards, letters and emails from CHM members. It wonderful to experience care and kindness not only from our healthcare providers and our local faith community, but also from brothers and sisters in Christ we’ve never met.
Six months after Joan’s heart attack she had another scare with a ruptured appendix. CHM again came to our aid and shared those expenses. Having had experience with the ministry, this time we felt we had the wind at our backs. In spite of a lengthy recovery, we knew at least we didn’t have to worry about finances.
Today Joan is doing well and doctors believe that the damage to her heart will heal in time. God never stops reminding us that we aren’t alone and that He is powerful enough to meet all our needs. With CHM in our corner we also felt like we can concentrate on Joan regaining her health and likewise not be concerned about facing an impossibly expensive medical situation in the future. In that way we believe that CHM has helped us enjoy our lives more by worrying less.
I relentlessly recommend CHM to friends and family. The feeling of confidence and peace this ministry gives us is indescribable.