Benjamin Gastellum, Sahuarita, AZ

Total eligible bills
$42,029
Provider discounts
$12,059
Total bills shared
$29,970

One autumn day, I fell off the ladder outside my home and hit the cement patio below. It was clear that the landing had shattered my right wrist; I could feel the bone fragments penetrating my skin. I pushed everything back together with my left hand as best as I could and went to find my wife.

“Let’s get you to the emergency room,” she said. We don’t have insurance, so wrap it with a bandage instead, I told her. “You need treatment.” We can’t afford it. “We’ll show them your CHM card.”

She insisted we go. Afraid of losing the use of my hand, I conceded.

At the hospital’s front desk, someone asked, “May I see your proof of insurance?” Actually, I’m a member of Christian Healthcare Ministries. “Okay, great. We’ve treated other CHM members. I’ll process your bills as a self-pay patient, and we’ll begin treatment immediately.”

A great deal of stress lifted from my shoulders; I was comforted to know I would receive quality treatment.

I called CHM to explain what happened and was amazed at the degree of compassion and concern over my injury. We discussed how to submit the Needs Processing forms and itemized bills from the hospital, and I managed to negotiate discounts if I paid the bills within a certain time period.

CHM shared my bills before the hospital’s deadline. We received up to 40 percent discounts from all my other health care providers (surgeon, anesthesiologist, nurse practitioner, etc.). As a CHM member I wasn’t required to pay upfront; I could instead set up a payment plan until I received additional funds from CHM.

Today my bones are healing. Due to atrophy, I have a lot of physical therapy ahead of me. My doctor expects that I’ll regain 80 percent of full use, but I’m hopeful that my recovery will be even better.

One highlight of my experience was how quickly and thoroughly my hospital and other providers took care of my needs. And having worked with CHM patients, they processed my paperwork immediately.

Due to various life circumstances, I had developed a negative attitude about life and the world. Earlier in 2015 I lost my managerial position and health care coverage when my employer’s company closed. I couldn’t afford the exorbitant premiums and deductibles offered through any Obamacare plans. Likewise, my wife was also forced into early retirement a few years ago because of a near-fatal auto accident. I therefore didn’t have faith that we would be taken care of if a medical situation arose.

CHM changed my perspective because it is a genuine, legitimate ministry founded on one simple belief: Christians are capable of and faithful to help complete strangers by coming together.

I don’t know what the future holds for our world in regards to health care, but I do know that CHM is there for its members and is a ministry we can count on.

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