Strangers Provide Missionary in Korea More Than $140,000 For Life-Saving, Breast Cancer Treatment

Susan Willing was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007 while serving as a missionary in South Korea. While even a minor health issue can result in medical expenses well outside of the budget of a missionary, Susan and her husband, John, were not worried. Since 2001, the Willings have participated in Medi-Share - a healthcare sharing ministry where members share financial resources to directly pay one another’s medical costs. Their Medi-Share community shared more than $140,000 in medical bills for Susan's surgery and chemotherapy, all while she and John continued their work with Korean children.

As healthcare insurance for the average family is expected to increase by as much as $8,800 by 2016, missionaries living on already sparse funds must search for other options. Fortunately a little-known exemption in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act exempts members of healthcare sharing ministries from federally mandated health insurance, allowing Christians, including American missionaries (serving both in the states and abroad), to put their faith into practice without incurring high health insurance costs.

"In the midst of doctors' appointments, cancer treatments and trying to continue to serve as a missionary, it was a relief knowing I didn’t have to worry about my medical bills," said Willing. "Once I had my bills translated into English and mailed them in to Medi-Share, the community of Christians faithfully shared my cancer expenses. I also was comforted knowing the Christian Care Ministry community was praying for my recovery. The wonderful news is that today I am cancer free and the ministry my family worked to establish in Korea is thriving."

Medi-Share, a program of Christian Care Ministry, offers like-minded people the opportunity to pray for and encourage one another, promote healthy living and share each other’s healthcare costs. And, because members share a common set of religious beliefs, they do not contribute to medical expenses related to abortions or other medical misfortunes resulting from lifestyle choices that run contrary to biblical values.

Sharing medical bills through Medi-Share has saved individuals an average of 32 percent (or $945 per year) and families an average of 47 percent (or $2,944 per year) when compared to paying an average insurance premium (source: A Comprehensive Survey of Premiums, Availability, and Benefits; AHIP Center for Policy and Research, 2009).

"The cost of health insurance for the average family is expected to dramatically increase in the next five years," said Robert Baldwin, president of Christian Care Ministry. "Fortunately, there are options that have already been proven successful in driving down costs and yielding healthier lifestyles."

Interview Opportunities:

  • Susan Willing or another missionary who faced significant healthcare costs while serving abroad and bills were shared by fellow Christians back in the U.S. 

  • President of Christian Care Ministry, Robert Baldwin

Since it began in 1993, Medi-Share has been successful in facilitating the sharing of medical costs, with more than $400 million in medical costs shared by members. Due to its large network of providers, members have also saved an additional $100 million in discounted medical costs. 

Medi-Share is not health insurance since its members remain ultimately responsible for their own medical bills and there is no pooling of funds as practiced by insurance groups. However, during its 17-year history, Medi-Share members have faithfully shared their resources to pay all eligible medical expenses. 

Christian Care Ministry has provided biblical healthcare solutions for 17 years. More than just healthcare, it is a community of people who pray for and encourage one another, and a team of professionals who promote and support living a healthy, biblical lifestyle through programs: Medi-ShareRestoreManna and Healthy Church.