Foothills Christian Church, El Cajon, CA

Jan Kelley: Our Foothills Christian Church (FCC) staff is comprised of nearly 130 employees and an additional 50 or so staff that make up our pre-kindergarten through high school education ministry. As the person who oversees employee benefits, a few years ago I sought to counteract our church’s ever-increasing healthcare costs.

CHM’s ability to serve groups intrigued me and I spent a great deal of time researching more about the program and asking questions. The potential savings were significant, but we also wanted a healthcare program that would better serve our staff.

Joy Spriggs: At one point you told our staff that switching to CHM’s Gold program would save FCC roughly $100,000 and those funds would be redirected toward numerous ministries within the church. Still, you were most encouraged by the prayer and spiritual support employees would receive.

Jan: If you would have asked me back then what I liked most about the “nuts and bolts” of CHM, I would have said it’s because members can receive treatment from any doctor or hospital, they don’t need pre-approval for treatment and that they are in charge of their own healthcare decisions.

While those fundamental assurances have blessed our staff, another—and more personal—reason now comes to mind: a miraculous birth and how CHM rallied to support one of our very own, Ryden Hoffman. His dad, Neil, is one of the pastors on our staff.

Joy: I remember first hearing about the complications surrounding little Ryden’s birth. His mother’s uterus ruptured during labor, which caused severe brain damage. For four months he was under hospice care and had little chance of survival.

Jan: He was unable to eat or swallow and doctors didn’t expect him to return home. But God had different plans: One of the highest-ranking doctors in the United States heard about his condition and donated her time to perform a stem cell transplant. She offered to do the transplant using stem cells from a live donor: Trey, one of Ryden’s brothers.

Our church staff and members were nervous and prayed Ryden’s iron levels would climb high enough to undergo the procedure. Through prayer and God’s amazing grace, he underwent the transplant as an outpatient.

Though he takes more time to do things than other kids, he loves books, sits up, and is even crawling now. Today he is a thriving four-year-old boy and proof that God does indeed still perform miracles.

Joy: As a benefit to FCC employees, you prepare and submit to CHM medical forms and bills on their behalf, correct?

Jan: That’s right. Ryden’s birth was our staff’s first medical incident and I felt a great responsibility to the Hoffman family and my church. I also wanted to be the best steward of members’ money when I spoke with Ryden’s healthcare providers. CHM gave me advice for each step of the medical bill sharing process and taught me how to obtain the best possible price.

Joy: I recall that at the time of Ryden’s birth CHM members shared almost $48,000 after $14,000 in discounts. Since then, CHM shared bills for brain disease and cerebral palsy—a total of $224,000 after more than $268,000 in discounts. The ministry has also shared medical costs for other families under the FCC group membership, including bills for cancer, kidney stones, hernia repair, anemia, injuries, allergies, etc.

Jan: I really appreciate the relationship we have with CHM. It’s one that feels mutually supportive—a friendship in which we pray for one another. All of the staff are eager to go the extra mile to help and express their love for CHM members. In fact, there was a time when Joy was going to be in the El Cajon area and took the time to visit our staff. It helped put a face to a name and was also another expression of CHM’s care and support.

Editor’s note: CHM has hundreds of participating groups of varying sizes. To learn more about the advantages and unique requirements of CHM group membership, email groups@chministries.org.

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