Rick Ferrari, Crosby, MN

Total eligible bills
$176,573
Provider discounts
$61,242
Total bills shared
$101,382

In 2015 I closed my business after 35 years of operation. For all those years I had worked 11-to-12-hour days, seven days per week to support my family. I’d only missed one day due to illness.

A friend introduced me to Christian Healthcare Ministries, and I admit that at first I was skeptical. How does CHM offer its programs at such a low cost? I wondered. A small voice in my head whispered that it was too good to be true.

I read all of the information I could find about it and came to the conclusion that CHM is based on sound biblical and business principles. My wife, Mary, and I joined the Gold program and Brother’s Keeper in Jan. 2016.

That October I started experiencing symptoms that felt like gas building up and pushing on my diaphragm. The pain subsided whenever I cooled myself off or went for a walk. But the aching always returned. On Friday morning, Oct. 28, I’d had enough and decided that if the pains got worse by Monday, I’d go see my doctor.

At 1:30 a.m. that Monday, I awoke to intense pain that walking around the house for an hour didn’t diminish. I woke Mary and told her I was going to the emergency room two blocks away.

After just 15 minutes the on-call physician told me I was having a heart attack and that a helicopter was already on its way to transfer me to a larger hospital. I questioned whether he was sure because to me it just felt like painful gas. He said the EKG (electrocardiogram) showed a heart attack and the larger hospital’s staff concurred.

In the next 24 hours I had three stents inserted in arteries that were 90 to 100 percent blocked. Incredibly, I was discharged from the hospital after just two days.

When I got home the hospital bill of over $130,000 was already in my mailbox. I wasn’t panicking, but I was definitely concerned. High blood pressure I’d experienced before joining CHM meant my heart condition was a pre-existing condition. A staff member told me there were sharing limits (under the Gold program) for pre-existing conditions, but that the remaining amount would appear on the newsletter’s Prayer Page and other members could make donations to help me pay my bills.

It was fairly simple to submit the medical bills to CHM. At first I was uneasy asking my healthcare providers for discounts, but a little practice made it easier and I learned that discounting is common in the healthcare industry.

I incurred a total of nearly $223,000 in bills and received more than $84,000 in discounts. At the time of this writing CHM members have shared over $93,000 of my remaining expenses and I continue each month to receive a check reflecting their Prayer Page donations.

I feel very grateful and blessed to have been given a second chance at life. My health event caused me to realize that I have fewer days in front of me than behind me, and as a result Mary and I now both have—and highly recommend—healthcare directives (living will, healthcare power of attorney, etc.). These forms are especially helpful for the spouse of a patient undergoing a serious health crisis.

I want to thank the CHM staff for making us feel like part of a family every time we called or emailed questions. I especially thank you, CHM members, for your donations and prayers. Hopefully I can someday be on the “other side” by helping others in their time of need. There’s no doubt in my mind that CHM is guided by God’s divine power and mercy.

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