Carol James, Camp Douglas, WS

Total eligible bills
$47,627
Provider discounts
$8,497
Total bills shared
$39,130

After a serious illness that caused six days of hospitalization and a canceled health plan, my husband, John, and I knew we had to find a different solution to my healthcare costs. I joined Christian Healthcare Ministries’ Gold level and the Brother’s Keeper program for catastrophic health expenses.

I had battled diverticulitis in the past and knew it would be considered pre-existing, but I didn’t realize that an expensive surgery was just on the horizon.

In late October 2015 I was traveling home to Wisconsin after a wonderful Hawaiian vacation with my adult children and grandchildren. I started experiencing abdominal pain just before boarding my first flight to San Jose, Calif., but reasoned that I needed to “grin and bear it” so I didn’t miss my flight.

The pain only grew worse throughout the day. I made it back to Wisconsin but had to go immediately to an urgent care center. Two days later I was admitted to the hospital due to ongoing pain and an elevated white blood cell count. I received intravenous antibiotics and fluids and was referred to a surgeon for a consultation.

I learned that I had ruptured diverticuli and that the infection had spread through my body. On Dec. 16 I underwent sigmoid resection surgery to remove part of my colon.

The surgery alone had a “sticker” price of over $40,000. This was followed by the arrival of other bills from my surgeon, anesthesiologist, pathologist, etc.

I contacted CHM to find out how my medical bills would be handled. The staff members were so kind; they said $25,000 of my bills would be eligible for sharing through the Gold schedule and the rest could be shared through the Prayer Page. I learned that these are CHM’s two programs for pre-existing conditions. (Editor’s note: For more information on pre-existing conditions, see Guidelines Z and AA at chministries.org/guidelines.)

My bills totaled over $85,000 and I received about $22,000 in provider discounts, including a 60 percent discount from my surgeon.

Since Prayer Page needs are shared based on the voluntary donations CHM receives each month, after the initial $25,000 (shared through the Gold schedule) I began receiving monthly checks until members shared the entire remaining amount. At the same time I started getting cards in the mail—from folks I’ve never met—saying they were praying for me.

I experienced such encouragement from receiving these little “mailbox miracles.” It was inspiring to think that people were responding to my request for help on the Prayer Page.

Having suffered two infections and three bowel obstructions within a year, I learned how long-term pain can affect and change lives. Through my experience, God taught me a lot about being more empathetic toward others because I came to understand how chronic pain can make it difficult just to get through a single day.

Today I am fully recovered and feel better than I have in years. When I think back to the time of my surgery, I’m reminded of how God provided for me in so many ways. For example, the CHM staff was kind and considerate even when my thinking was affected by being on numerous medications and concentration was difficult. They were patient and never made me feel embarrassed when I asked them to repeat information. It was one less thing to worry about during a worrisome time.

Both John and I now have Medicare, but I remain a CHM member because I want to continue helping my brothers and sisters in Christ as I have been helped. I recommend CHM every chance I have!

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