Editor’s note: CHM has over 600 participating groups—all of which are Christian organizations with an all-Christian staff. However, group programs must be set up properly or groups can be heavily fined. For details, including a cost analysis, visit chministries.org/groups.
Forest Springs Camp and Conference Center (forestsprings.us) is a year-round Christian camp facility headquartered in Westboro, Wis.
For more than 60 years the non-denominational ministry has served 14,000 Midwesterners annually through its youth and family camps, retreat ministries and other programs for individuals, families and churches.
Pat Petkau is Forest Spring’s executive director and Joan Points serves as the administrative coordinator. They shared how joining CHM enabled their ministry to employ and serve 36 missionary-supported families and to train students to become worldwide camping leaders:
CHM: What are your responsibilities at Forest Springs?
Joan Points: Part of my role is to explain and manage the healthcare benefits for our employees. In addition, I make recommendations to Pat for adopting or making healthcare program changes. In turn, our Board of Directors reviews the suggestions and makes the final decision.
CHM: What prompted your research of Christian Healthcare Ministries’ healthcare solutions for groups?
Pat Petkau: In 2013 our healthcare costs increased significantly, so Joan began looking into health cost sharing organizations.
JP: I compared a number of programs but CHM stood out in terms of its solid biblical foundation, sound financial principles, years of successful sharing and ability to work with groups such as ours.
CHM: What happened then?
JP: We posed various questions to Terry Lawrence on the CHM groups team. He answered each one clearly and came to visit us and meet with our administration and eligible employees to explain CHM’s group services. (Editor’s note: CHM staff members are not always available to give presentations in person, but are happy to conduct a webinar with interested group administrators.)
PP: Additionally, one of our board members took the time to visit CHM, tour the facilities and ask questions. Based on his firsthand report and the research done by our staff, we decided to join Christian Healthcare Ministries in Jan. 2014.
CHM: What are the results of making the change?
PP: We joined CHM’s Gold plus Brother’s Keeper programs while reducing our healthcare costs from $350,000 to $121,000 annually—a savings of more than 65 percent! The difference enabled us to set up an IRS-approved program to help with costs from employees’ dental care, vision, chiropractic, maintenance prescriptions, etc. (Editor’s note: To learn why CHM doesn’t share incidental medical expenses, see Guidelines O and P at chministries.org/guidelines.)
It’s a great blessing to know that other like-minded believers are demonstrating compassion through the mutual sharing of medical bills. During our staff prayer meetings, we also take the time to pray for the prayer requests of fellow CHM members.
JP: CHM’s sharing process is relatively simple and contacting CHM is efficient when I need to make membership account changes or address time-sensitive questions. Though our staff members initially felt skeptical or nervous about the 120-day sharing time, CHM has proven itself many times over the past five years, having shared medical bills for 18 staffers—including more than $575,000 for a staff member with cancer.
PP: We’re also very grateful that the savings we experienced from the transition enabled us to fund other projects around our facility so we could further provide for our campers’ physical and spiritual needs.
CHM: What’s one thing you would say to groups wondering if switching to CHM is the right decision?
JP: Learning how to share medical bills in this way is worth it, and your bills indeed will be shared. We can say without a doubt that the cost savings and Christian perspective CHM provides are refreshing—particularly for those of us who serve in ministry.