CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- It's a different approach to health care. Letters of support and prayers came with payment for Bob Singleton's cancer surgery and when Chad Nixon had to have a CT scan, support came by phone.
"They asked if they could pray for me over the phone," said Nixon. "Most insurance companies want to ask for money."
"I had been thinking about it for a long time, praying about it. Thinking, why wouldn't this be a good option?" said Katrina Nixon, Chad's wife. "It's scriptural for the body of Christ to take care of the body of Christ."
It's Christian-based health care coverage, provided by companies like Samaritan Ministries and Medi-SHARE. Participants pay a monthly fee and their money goes to others in the plan.
"We're taking care of the needs of someone else that has the same faith as us," said Katrina Nixon. "They don't have the money to take care of their health care needs. Our money every month goes to paying for their needs. I just feel really good about that."
The Nixons use Medi-SHARE. With Chad Nixon self-employed and his wife home-schooling their three girls, they're now paying half the price they were to cover their family. They pay a little more than $300 a month and have $1,000 deductable per incident.
"We couldn't financially handle traditional insurance. We couldn't do it," said Katrina Nixon.
The Singletons agreed. They, too, pay about $300 a month to Samaritan Ministries.
"We were paying $14,000 a year in insurance for a family plan and now it's about $4,000 a year. That was with a $10,000 deductable," said Paul Singleton.
So you're probably thinking this sounds too good to be true.
NewsChannel 36 talked with North Carolina's Department of Insurance, which said you need to be wary. Programs like these are not insurance, so there's not much regulation. That could pose a problem for the consumer because there's a lack of oversight and little protection if you have a complaint, says the DOI.
We checked with the Better Business Bureau and the North Carolina Attorney General's Office. We found only one complaint with the AG's office. Both companies boast a record of pleased customers.
The Nixons said they looked for problems before they signed up and for them this was by far their best option.
"We couldn't financially handle traditional insurance," said Katrina. "We couldn't do it. There's no way we could afford it. This seemed like the only other option we had."
They enjoy knowing their money is going to those who need support and share their beliefs. Users can find prayer requests and can submit their own. Samaritan sends out prayer books and the Nixons get a bookmark in the mail as a reminder to pray for those who are sick.
"I feel good about that," said Katrina Nixon.
The NCDOI says you have to know what you're getting into. If you have a complaint, the Department of Insurance can't help you.
Click here for tips from the Department of Insurance on buying health care insurance
The NC Attorney General's Office also has tips on buying different forms of health care coverage. Click here