Marty Coates, Wysox, PA

Total eligible bills
Provider discounts
Total bills shared

My interest in health care sharing ministries began when my health insurance premiums climbed to $1,000 per month. I became a member of one such ministry, but switched to CHM in January 2014 because the other organization could no longer legally operate due to passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

While a member of the first organization, I was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, a slow-growing cancer. Feeling I had some time to decide, I wrestled with what to do about treatment. My wife, Patricia, and I have a small business operating school buses and we’d lost two of our drivers to cancer in the previous five years.

I gave my life to the Lord Jesus Christ almost 30 years ago and I trust Him for my destiny. When I got my diagnosis, I didn’t believe it was time yet for me to leave this earth. Only once did I wonder what my wife and grandsons would do without me, but I quickly put that negative thought behind me and looked toward the future.

I initially tried taking vitamins and herbs and seeing an immune therapy doctor, but it didn’t help much.

I joined CHM and started chemotherapy about five months later. Wilma, a CHM staff member, told me not to worry and helped me understand what I needed to do. She said my condition was pre-existing but that CHM has programs for pre-existing conditions. One of those programs, she explained, is the Prayer Page that appears in the monthly newsletter.

The medical bills quickly added up. The hospital had never treated a CHM member before, so I explained that I didn’t have insurance, but was part of a ministry that would help me with my bills.* (I’ve since learned that the hospital now has other patients who are CHM members.)

I applied for financial assistance but my income was just a few dollars over the income limit. Thankfully, the hospital’s policy is to treat patients first and discuss payment afterward. The staff was also gracious in extending a 50 percent discount since they knew my bills were going to be very large. Some of my other health care providers also gave discounts once they learned the hospital had done so.

It took a little while for my name to appear on the CHM Prayer Page because I was waiting to hear back about financial assistance from the hospital. However, I didn’t worry about when the money from CHM would come in because I trusted God to move in the hearts of His people.

Since I was first listed on the CHM newsletter’s Prayer Page, I have received $118,721 from other members! Bills are still coming in and I have about $79,000 left to go. In addition, I received many encouraging cards from CHM members. I read each one and the personal touch makes me feel like I know these dear brothers and sisters. I look forward to seeing them all in heaven someday.

Today I’m doing much better and I’m undergoing maintenance treatment to keep the cancer in remission.

I compare my experience to a roller coaster: there were “lows” and “highs.” Some of the “lows” were the occurrence of abdominal ascites and blood clots and the fact I needed stents to keep open the ureter tubes from my kidneys to my bladder. The “high” times included when the ascites subsided, my lungs returning to normal and removal of the stents after 12 months.

I’m also grateful that the chemo treatments had little effect on me, which I attribute to building up my immune system, a positive attitude and—most of all—my faith and trust in Almighty God.

God received glory throughout my ordeal. He taught me patience and to trust Him each day. Some people thought I was history, but I believe the Lord intended my experience to be a testimony of His power to heal. I also think my story points to the effectiveness of the biblical principle of sharing each other’s burdens, as CHM members do each day. This principle works today just as it did in the days of the first disciples.

Even though Patricia and I trusted God from the beginning, we’re still amazed and humbled to receive cards of encouragement and checks averaging $10,000 per month. I’m forever grateful to my doctors, nurses and hospital. I’m equally thankful for each CHM member and the ministry staff. I recommend CHM every chance I get.

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