Life coach faces emergency colon surgery, “stunned” at how well CHM works, Jeff Burns, Carolina Beach, North Carolina

Total eligible bills
Provider discounts
Total bills shared

Certified Leadership Coach with the John Maxwell Team and numerous leadership organizations

I believe CHM is the best solution to healthcare costs, and I wish I had discovered this option before 2016 when my wife, Oceana, and I underwent major surgeries. Sadly, the out-of-pocket costs from those events wiped us out financially.

When I became a CHM member, I was skeptical and also excited about CHM’s model of Christians taking care of one another based on the sharing principles depicted in Acts 2.

Fast forward to April 2018: While I traveled to Virginia to settle my mother’s estate, my family packed and moved our things to our new home in Carolina Beach, N.C. We had a lot going on, so when I experienced pain in my large intestine, I knew I couldn’t afford being sick. I sought guidance from our family physician right away. He prescribed antibiotics and the pain subsided.

Not long after, I returned home and mentally prepared for the following day of unpacking. In the morning, I grabbed a cup of coffee, only to be taken aback by the sharp pain in my stomach. The pain intensified. The doctor ordered another round of antibiotics. I remained on the couch in agonizing pain for three more days.

After hearing this, my doctor suggested I undergo a CT scan. The technician and I connected over our shared love of surfing, so when he told me he was going to have the doctor review my test results that day, I thought he was being nice. Little did I know, he was saving my life.

Just moments after arriving home from the visit, I received a call from the doctor’s office. “I’m glad you answered the phone,” said the nurse. “You need immediate surgery.”

I was scared and overwhelmed. Things happened quickly. Additional tests revealed infection in my colon. I was diagnosed with diverticulitis and a grapefruit-sized infection. My appendix was close to bursting, and they needed to remove part of my colon.

“We have to reduce the infection before we can operate,” the surgeon said. “You’ll need to fast for the next few days and take antibiotics to reduce inflammation.” Four days passed, but the antibiotics made no difference. The doctors didn’t want to wait any longer and brought me back in to remove 12 inches of my large intestine. They also took out my appendix and the tumor-like infection.

My six-month treatment plan included wearing a colostomy bag and refraining from strenuous activity. Much to my surprise, I’m recovering so well that doctors think I can undergo a second surgery to reconnect my colon sooner than expected. They’ll also remove four inches of my large intestine that contains more diverticulitis.

Throughout this time, CHM has been amazing. The medical bill processing forms help me keep track of my bills. Additionally, I’m astounded at the CHM staff’s ability to coach, guide and support members like me as we obtain discounts. For me, negotiating discounts was fun. Asking for a self-pay discount gave me an automatic 35 to 40 percent off. In some cases, I received even more.

To date, my bills total over $88,000. I received over $50,000 in discounts and CHM members paid the remaining $33,000. 

I’m stunned at how well this biblical model works. If everyone honored biblical principles such as loving God, loving their neighbors, and sharing what they have to meet community needs, imagine how much we could accomplish! My experience has strengthened my faith, and I’m confident that my fellow Christians have my back. I want to take care of them, too.

One of my favorite moments throughout the process took place at the hospital billing office. A woman in front of me was clearly frustrated; she had been denied assistance with her medical bills. She looked frantic as it set in that she was responsible for paying large medical expenses.

The Holy Spirit led me to tell this fellow Christian about CHM. “I found a wonderful Christian ministry—and you’ll know ahead of time which expenses they assist with, and you can choose your own provider.” Tears filled her eyes as I gave her CHM’s contact information. She left rejoicing.

I stepped up to the counter to pay my hospital bill. The billing representative said, “That’s amazing. What a great option.” I smiled and said, “It all comes from the Bible.”

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