On the reconstruction of palaeo-ice sheets: Recent advances and future challenges

first_imgReconstructing the growth and decay of palaeo-ice sheets is critical to understanding mechanisms of global climate change and associated sea-level fluctuations in the past, present and future. The significance of palaeo-ice sheets is further underlined by the broad range of disciplines concerned with reconstructing their behaviour, many of which have undergone a rapid expansion since the 1980s. In particular, there has been a major increase in the size and qualitative diversity of empirical data used to reconstruct and date ice sheets, and major improvements in our ability to simulate their dynamics in numerical ice sheet models. These developments have made it increasingly necessary to forge interdisciplinary links between sub-disciplines and to link numerical modelling with observations and dating of proxy records. The aim of this paper is to evaluate recent developments in the methods used to reconstruct ice sheets and outline some key challenges that remain, with an emphasis on how future work might integrate terrestrial and marine evidence together with numerical modelling. Our focus is on pan-ice sheet reconstructions of the last deglaciation, but regional case studies are used to illustrate methodological achievements, challenges and opportunities. Whilst various disciplines have made important progress in our understanding of ice-sheet dynamics, it is clear that data-model integration remains under-used, and that uncertainties remain poorly quantified in both empirically-based and numerical ice-sheet reconstructions. The representation of past climate will continue to be the largest source of uncertainty for numerical modelling. As such, palaeo-observations are critical to constrain and validate modelling. State-of-the-art numerical models will continue to improve both in model resolution and in the breadth of inclusion of relevant processes, thereby enabling more accurate and more direct comparison with the increasing range of palaeo-observations. Thus, the capability is developing to use all relevant palaeo-records to more strongly constrain deglacial (and to a lesser extent pre-LGM) ice sheet evolution. In working towards that goal, the accurate representation of uncertainties is required for both constraint data and model outputs. Close cooperation between modelling and data-gathering communities is essential to ensure this capability is realised and continues to progress.last_img read more

Acquitted carers still labelled ‘abusers’

first_imgNZ Herald 10 May 2014Two former Child, Youth and Family caregivers acquitted of assaulting boys in their care say they hold no grudges but are disappointed CYF still labels them as abusers.Auckland couple Andrew John Hemara, 55, and Jenny-Lee Hemara, 51, were found not-guilty this week on charges of assaulting and ill-treating two boys, aged between 6 and 14, over a six-year period until 2010.Many of the worst allegations against the couple, including that they made the two boys brush their teeth with a wire brush and run until they vomited, were dropped after the boys recanted key evidence.But they were still accused of punching and kicking the boys and making one sleep outside with no bedding.Soon after the verdicts were delivered in the Auckland District Court, CYF regional director Sharon Thom said: “While they were found not guilty of criminal charges in court, our own investigations into abuse were substantiated”.Ms Thom said the use of physical force to discipline was never acceptable and the Hemeras would not be allowed to foster more children.http://m.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11252873last_img read more

Man City ready to let Aguero go this summer

first_img Loading… Promoted Content11 Most Immersive Game To Play On Your Table Top14 Hilarious Comics Made By Women You Need To Follow Right Now2020 Tattoo Trends: Here’s What You’ll See This Year10 Phones That Can Easily Fit In The Smallest PocketWho’s The Best Car Manufacturer Of All Time?10 Actors And Actresses Whose Careers Were Boosted By Soap Operas15 Celebs Whose Careers Were Thwarted After One Simple MistakeThis Guy Photoshopped Himself Into Celeb Pics And It’s Hysterical7 Black Hole Facts That Will Change Your View Of The UniverseTop 7 Best Car Manufacturers Of All TimeBest Car Manufacturers In The WorldThe Highest Paid Football Players In The World Manchester United are willing to let Sergio Aguero leave this summer if they fail to overturn their European ban. If he signed a new contract with City — and if the ban were upheld — the Argentinian would be 34 by the time the club are able to compete in Europe again. City are understood to be sympathetic to Aguero’s particular situation even though they believe the majority of the squad will stick together. They are grateful for the nine years of exceptional service and would find it hard to turn him down if he asked to leave in search of Champions League football. During his career with City he has scored 180 goals in 260 games, helping them win four Premier League titles — starting with that iconic “Agueroooo” moment in 2012. Read Also:Aguero’s goal sends Man City into FA Cup last eight And with that kind of service, there is a mutual relationship of trust and respect with City — and the club do not want that to sour at the end. FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 City insist they will keep their brilliant squad together as much as possible even if they are forced to serve Uefa’s two-year suspension. Aguero is contracted to City until the end of next season — but is aware that he is approaching the latter stages of his career at the highest level. The talismanic forward is not thought to especially want to leave Manchester. But the prospect of missing out on Champions League football for two years means he might never play in the competition again.Advertisementlast_img read more

#Donkomi: Chelsea reach agreement to sign Hakim Ziyech from Ajax

first_img Source: BBC Sports RelatedPosts ‘We want to play in big competitions’ – Jordan Ayew targets European spot with Crystal Palace Ivory Coast FA elections: Asamoah Gyan backs Didier Drogba ‘I’m happy at Crystal Palace’ – Jordan Ayew says amid transfer speculation Chelsea has reached an agreement with Ajax to sign the Dutch club’s winger Hakim Ziyech this summer.The 26-year-old was a January transfer target for Chelsea boss Frank Lampard.Ajax was unwilling to sell the Morocco international in the transfer window as they chase the Eredivisie title.Ajax has confirmed they have accepted a fee of 40m euros (£33.3m) – potentially rising to 44m euros (£36.6m) – with the move subject to Ziyech agreeing personal terms.The signing is the first by Lampard following Chelsea’s transfer ban.The Premier League side was linked with a number of signings in January, including Paris St-Germain forward Edinson Cavani and Napoli striker Dries Mertens.Lampard’s apparent frustration with a lack of new arrivals is understood to have stemmed from clubs refusing to sell rather than any problems with Chelsea’s recruitment strategy.Ziyech contributed to an Ajax goal against Chelsea in the 4-4 draw in their Champions League group game in November.The winger’s free-kick from near the corner flag curled over Kepa Arrizabalaga’s head and hit the far post before rebounding in off the Chelsea goalkeeper for an own goal.Ziyech played the final 10 minutes of Ajax’s 3-0 win against Vitesse in the Dutch Cup on Wednesday, as he returned from a calf injury.After the game, Ajax boss Erik ten Hag said: “I am not surprised by the news about Ziyech. I know that our players are very popular with the big clubs in Europe. That is just great.“I have known for a long time what Hakim wants. He has a picture in mind. He knows exactly which clubs he finds interesting and which not. Chelsea is a fantastic club. When it is final, I am very happy for Hakim, and I am very proud of it.” Tags: Chelsea fcHakim Ziyechlast_img read more

#Donkomi: Hearts of Oak sign Nigerian forward Ademola Kuti

first_imgAccra Hearts of Oak have announced the signing of Nigerian forward, Kuti Ademola, on a free transfer. Kuti joins on a 2-year deal after stints with Lobi Stars, Al Fujairah SC, Punjab and Techno Aryan FC.The club announced the move on its Twitter handle on Tuesday morning.📸 | @HeartsOfOakGH is delighted to announce the signing of striker, Kuti Ademola. The lanky Nigerian professional has signed a two-year contract with the club.#WelcomeKuti🔴💛🔵#AHOSC pic.twitter.com/pJsSn6YPeH— Phobians (@HeartsOfOakGH) May 5, 2020Kuti is the latest player to sign for Hearts in the second registration window of the Ghana Premier League.The club has brought in Abdourahamae Mamane Lawali, Eric Dizan, Nuru Sulley and Abednego Tetteh in the window and the moves are designed to give Hearts an offensive boost should the league resume.The Phobians scored 15 goals in the 14 league matches they had played as of the time the league was suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic.last_img read more

Photos: Lakers Girls Auditions

first_imgHopeful dancers audition to be a Lakers Girl during try-outs for the 2014-15 season at the Toyota Center Saturday, July 12, 2014, El Segundo, CA.Viewing on mobile? Go here. Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Errorlast_img

Silly Stories About Early Man

first_img(Visited 235 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0 The few fossils of alleged human ancestors leave a lot of room for imagination.We lead off with Live Science‘s super-silly headline, “Nom Nom! Paleo Diet Helped Humans Evolve Speech.” To say this right, you need to use the caveman accent: Nom nom. Meat help man evolve speak. Harvard evolutionary anthropologists used a form of torture to get their story going:Scientists who forced volunteers to chew raw goat flesh (yes, chew) have found that such meat-gnawing likely caused human teeth and jaws to shrink throughout our evolutionary history.Slicing raw flesh into smaller pieces and then chewing would have helped ancient hominins spend less time and energy eating than their ancestors. These changes, in turn, might have supported the evolution of speech and language by changing human facial anatomy, scientists added.Oh. Well if scientists said it, then—wow. They must know. It’s not Lamarckian, is this? someone whispers. PhysOrg tries a more scholarly headline: “Processing food before eating likely played key role in human evolution, study finds.” Oh. Well if a study found it, then—wow. The BBC News showed no restraint, posting “Meat eating accelerated face evolution” in large font over artwork of naked apemen scavenging a carcass.Big brains make big bodies. Mark Grabowski at the American Museum of Natural History has a new evolutionary twist: as early man’s brain grew, it “pulled along” a body size to match. Science Daily explains his idea. This new just-so story may get him in trouble with other Darwinians. “While selection no doubt played a role in refining the physical changes that came with larger body sizes, my findings suggest it was not the driving force behind body-size evolution in our lineage,” Grabowski said. “Therefore, evolutionary models for the origins of Homo based on an adaptive increase in body size need to be reconsidered.” Will this ever happen to Grabowski’s own story? Will it need to be reconsidered? Why not now? Maybe he could explain why bigger is better. Wouldn’t there be a “driving force” to miniaturize the brain for energy cost savings, and pull the body down to a smaller, more maneuverable size? Maybe he could also describe this pulling force. Could he measure it like a good physicist?Genes determine your virginity. This idea is making the rounds: Cambridge researchers have identified 38 genes that influence when you will lose your virginity (see Live Science and New Scientist). But so what? New Scientist comments, providing an interview with the researchers. They admit that social influences (e.g., religion, social mores) have much more influence on the age of first sex. That being the case, how can anyone measure such a moral choice in material genes? By comparison, genes for tallness may influence a 7-foot man to bump his head on doorways, but that doesn’t mean he is going to walk around with bruises all his life. And that’s an obvious case. While genes undoubtedly affect our dispositions, genes for personality type and maturity are notoriously hard to measure. An impulsive, early-maturing teen still has the capacity (and responsibility) for self-control.Everything you know is wrong (again). This is the lament uttered after almost every new find in paleoanthropology. New Scientist gives us the latest version: “Oldest ever human genome sequence may rewrite human history.” The latest puzzles, overturns of convention, and alterations of the timeline come from a new Neanderthal genome echoed by Science Daily and Nature News. The new anomalous dates require modern humans and Neanderthals to have diverged 430,000 years ago. Odd, isn’t it, that after being so long distinct, they could still have sex and produce fertile offspring just a few tens of thousands of years ago in the evolutionary scheme? Get the full theory rescue story in Nature. More about this in Science Magazine from the usual suspects. Another Nature paper’s authors look familiar.Neanderthal matches. It’s also odd that it took the Neanderthals 390,000 of those years to figure out how to use manganese dioxide for fire making. That’s a long science experiment for such smart hominids. PhysOrg says,The selection and use of manganese dioxide for fire making is unknown from the ethnographic record of recent hunter gatherers. This knowledge had been lost. This unusual behaviour holds potential significance for our understanding of Neanderthal cognitive capabilities through the extent of their knowledge and insights. The actions involved in the preferential selection of a specific, non-combustible material and its use to make fire are not obvious nor intuitive. The knowledge and insights suggested by Neanderthal selection of manganese dioxide and use in fire-making are surprising and qualitatively different from the expertise commonly associated with Neanderthals.Interestingly, whilst Neanderthals may have sourced and used manganese dioxide in fire making 50,000 years ago, manganese dioxide has important uses today in energy storage (batteries) and potentially in future clean energy production systems.Next just-so story. Whenever you see “likely” you know the storyteller is making things up. Here’s a headline from Live Science: “Why Neanderthals Likely Fathered Few Kids with Modern Humans.” The story hinges on analysis of Y chromosome differences between Neanderthals and modern humans. Supposedly, the differences led to more miscarriages. One wonders why the parents didn’t figure out that mixed marriages were not working well. One also wonders whether the scientists considered the possibility of genomic damage in the samples over time. Problem #3: this article pushes the Neanderthal-modern split back even further, to 590,000 years, and with it, the problems of genetic incompatibility and delayed technology.Insert miracle here. In a letter to PNAS, Ajit Varki ponders “Why are there no persisting hybrids of humans with Denisovans, Neanderthals, or anyone else?” After all, if they got together and had grandkids, one might expect some enduring lineages today. Insert miracle here, as we observe Varki’s perhapsimaybecouldness index skyrocket:Although genomic evidence indicates interbreeding, the number of functional genes incorporated is limited, resulting in a “leaky replacement”, without persistence of true hybrids. Thus, our single BMH [behaviorally modern human] (sub)species was the “winner” in every contact/replacement event, spanning tens of thousands of years. I cannot find any other example wherein a single (sub)species from one geographic origin completely replaced all extant cross-fertile (sub)species in every planetary location, with limited introgression of functional genetic material from replaced taxa, and leaving no hybrid species. Typically, one instead finds multiple cross-fertile (sub)species, with hybrid zones in between.Although this apparent one-of-a-kind phenomenon could have occurred by chance, the singularity allows one to posit a uniquely complex genetic/biological/cultural transition of BMHs. As Pääbo suggested, adaptive accumulation of an “explosive constellation” of genetic variants (alleles) could have endowed BMHs with an unparalleled combination of cognitive features, guaranteeing success at every subsequent encounter with other hominins.Unique happenstances are generally frowned on in scientific explanations. They lead to embarrassing admissions such as, “This explanation works, except when it doesn’t.” Varki’s particular miracle also runs afoul of political correctness:Such “human exceptionalism” is currently frowned upon, as are extraordinary explanations of evolutionary events. However, unless there are other clear examples of such complete replacement of all related taxa by one single (sub)species, BMHs may indeed be a rare exception.Varki is not done with miracle stories yet. He’s got a lottery encore. The scenario “suggests an improbable BMH transition through a long-standing “psychological evolutionary barrier”–– possibly involving initially maladaptive features such as reality denial and mortality salience, which conspired to generate the winning combination.” Ummm… “reality denial.” Interesting choice of words.The Hobbit. Along with older dates for the extinction of so-called Homo floresiensis (see BBC News) come a flurry of new stories. The revised date (50,000 years instead of 12,000) is closer to the alleged arrival of modern humans in their Indonesian territory. Aha! This must mean that those mean modern humans are responsible! Altogether now: one, two, three, four,Did humans drive ‘hobbit’ species to extinction? (Ewen Callaway in Nature)Did Modern Humans Wipe Out the ‘Hobbits’? (Adam Hoffman in National Geographic)Did hobbits live alongside modern humans? (Charles Q. Choi in Live Science)Indonesian ‘Hobbits’ may have died out sooner than thought (Science Daily)Below its artwork contrived to make the naked hobbits look as ape-like as possible, the BBC quotes an Australian anthropologist about the earlier “head-scratcher” situation, i.e., “how it was possible for floresiensis to survive for 30,000 to 40,000 years after modern humans are believed to have passed through Indonesia.” Turn on your Aussie dialogue: “Well, it now seems we weren’t living alongside this little species for very long, if at all [mate]. And once again it smells of modern humans having a role in the downfall of yet another species.” Here’s how it works. You get the blame even though you weren’t there. Why? You’re a member of a privileged class. Even though you love The Hobbit, your race caused their downfall along with many species, so you must bear the guilt. Pay up those reparations! “But to whom? They’re all gone,” you protest. That’s been pre-arranged. You must pay in the form of higher taxes to fund evolutionary anthropologists so that they can continue their storytelling.Now that we’ve shown how to respond to silly stories, try your hand at these others:Australopithecus fossils found east of the Great Rift Valley: New remains demonstrate early hominid’s adaptability (Science Daily)A world map of Neanderthal and Denisovan ancestry in modern humans (Science Daily)Five matings for moderns, Neandertals (Ann Gibbons in Nature)How extinct humans left their mark on us (BBC News)Ancient DNA identifies ‘early Neanderthals’ (BBC News)Asian stone tools hint humans left Africa earlier than thought (New Scientist)When humans split from the apes (PhysOrg)last_img read more

Stalk quality may call for an early harvest

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The combination of a very wet spring, heavy foliar diseases and a dry pollination period is adding up to a heightened concern about corn stalk quality. In this week’s DuPont Pioneer Field Report, Account Manager Doug House talks about how to scout for stalk quality issues and when to justify getting into a problem field earlier than usual.last_img

Chinese travel and displaced abomasa

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest This was my eighth trip to China. You may have read accounts of my previous exploits in this column. This trip I noticed that the smog In China has gotten worse. It hung over my travels, all the time, limiting visibility to about a half mile.In previous trips to China, as well as South Korea, Japan and Ukraine, I have consulted for a major U.S. pharmaceutical company. When the company learned I was in Beijing, the team leader asked if I could visit a dairy farm for them before I returned to the U.S.I quickly agreed. After all, I had already seen the tourist sites that were on the agenda for the meeting I traveled to China to attend. So, when the meeting concluded, I caught a bullet train to the farm with representatives of the pharmaceutical company. The trip sounded simple enough. The speedy train would turn the thousand-mile journey into a three-hour jaunt.But they left out a few details. At the end of the train trip, we had another three hours of travel to go: 150 miles of heavily travelled, crooked roads, in a van driven by a farm employee. The farm was in Bembu, a remote town in central China that I had never encountered in my previous travels.The roads were shared by an interesting mix of vehicles: overloaded 18-wheelers, dual-wheel tandem-axle straight trucks, cars, bicycles, electric scooters (they’re replacing gas-powered scooters in the government’s push to reduce pollution) and many old Gravelly-style garden tractors pulling trailers that carried bagged feed and supplies. In many cases, wives and small children rode in the trailers or on the back of scooters.This mishmash of vehicles turned into a cyclone in town squares. Cars, bicycles and scooters dodged recklessly in and out around 18-wheelers. Horns continually blared to clear the way, as if signaling, “Watch out, moving violations are happening all around you.”But I never saw anyone flash the bird over a perceived driving transgression. And, believe me, there were plenty of opportunities.Somehow we made it to the dairy farm, which is the largest in China. At any given time, the operation has a shade over 36,000 lactating cows and plans to add another 10,000. A couple other impressive stats: The farm employs 650 and contracts corn growers in about a 40-mile radius.The cows are milked three times a day, their milk is piped directly into the farm’s own processing plant. The farm, which markets its own brands of dairy products, advertises the milk as the freshest on the market. That’s because it’s pasteurized and processed within two hours of milking.The cows also pay their way by enabling the farm to operate energy self-sufficient. A methane digester derives methane from the manure to power the farm. The farm sells excess electricity to the power company.Now the reason for me being called to the farm: in the previous two weeks 60 cows required surgery to correct twisted stomachs, a condition also referred to as displaced abomasum.In 99.44% of these cases, twisted stomachs are related to issues with the ration just prior to or shortly after calving. But the farm managers couldn’t determine what had gone haywire with their nutritional program.I soon knew the problem, because I had worked with this farm’s nutritionist at another dairy. He held tight to some stubborn ideas on how cows should be fed. So I gave him a refresher on providing adequate fiber and lowering the late pregnancy cows’ energy intake. But I could see my advice entering one ear and exiting the other.Nonetheless, the farm staff asked me for recommendations regarding cattle with other health problems. This took up most of the afternoon and early evening.I was ready to call it quits long before they ran out of questions. But they were very hospitable. They invited us to stay overnight in the farm’s dormitory. And the company chef served us an eight-course meal with all the trimmings, Chinese style.The next morning we headed out for the 150-mile return drive to catch the bullet train back to Beijing and my flight home.Thanks to a tail wind, I had a “fast” 15-hour flight to Detroit, where I had to clear customs before catching the last leg home.My wife, Kris, was getting anxious. To celebrate my return, she took me to Culver’s for a Concrete Mixer ice cream treat on the way home. The perfect welcome back for her favorite globetrotting dairy vet.last_img read more

As health insurance costs rise, more consider shared health programs

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It is the time of year when thoughts turn to the joys of giving, family, and unfortunately in recent years, rising health insurance costs.Around Ohio, those who are self-employed or working at a small business are getting the news that their health insurance premiums will be getting another healthy increase for 2018. Ohioans purchasing health insurance through the Affordable Care Act will see average premium increases of 34% in 2018, according to the Ohio Department of Insurance. In addition, the insurance policies might not cover certain providers and may have higher co-pays. There will also be a shorter period to enroll in plans this year in some cases with a deadline of Dec. 15, compared to last year’s enrollment deadline of Jan. 31.The growing health insurance frustration of many people in rural Ohio has them searching for other options, including Christian medical cost sharing programs. Michelle and Mitchell Stammen of Mercer County made the decision to switch after Michelle left a corporate job that gave their family of four very good insurance, and started working from home. Mitchell’s full-time occupation is operating the family’s grain and cattle farm.“Switching to something that is not considered health insurance is a huge decision, but we decided to take a leap of faith,” said Michelle Stammen. “Being Christians, there were many reasons we wanted to ditch the government-mandated healthcare system and to instead join a health cost sharing ministry. The main reason for us was that we did not want to continue paying ever-increasing prices to insurance companies who made us cover things like abortions and birth control pills.“After becoming self-employed in 2014-15, we transitioned from my employer’s health insurance to another insurance company who charged $850 per month with a $12,500 deductible for our family of four. We had received a notice towards the end of 2015 that the insurance company was going to raise the rate to $950 per month for the following year. It made us upset because we felt it was pointless to pay that much for ‘healthcare’ when we had no claims that year. We knew the high-deductible plan we opted into was for the purpose of covering a major medical problem, but on the other hand, we felt like we were just throwing all that money for our monthly premiums down the drain.”After lamenting about their situation to a fellow farmer, that friend introduced the Stammens to the health cost sharing community his family was a part of called Samaritan Ministries. The other farming family told the Stammens that they did not have insurance, however, their medical bills were paid through Samaritan Ministries.“This family of 12 was paying less than half of what we were going to be paying monthly to the insurance company in 2016,” Michelle said. “We are not a family who goes to the doctor very often because we do a lot of natural remedies and herbal treatments — which were not covered by insurance anyway — so at the end of 2015, we did some research and decided to cancel our health insurance.”With the cancellation of their insurance, the Stammens decided to become part of Samaritan Ministries, one of several Christian health sharing options available nation-wide. Unlike insurance, the focus of Samaritan Ministries is on helping others with their needs.“After talking to that other farming family and realizing how well it was working for them, we knew we had to look into it. We found out that there are many more Christian health sharing plans out there than we realized, and we were quickly overwhelmed. With the end of 2015 rapidly approaching, we knew we had to make our decision quickly. After reading though Samaritan’s Guidelines, it seemed like a good fit for us so we applied. Samaritan doesn’t cover dental or vision, but we were used to paying for that out of pocket anyways,” Stammen said. “The most fulfilling aspect of this ministry is knowing that your money is going directly to a family who needs help paying their medical bills. When you are a part of Samaritan Ministries, you are not sending your monthly check to an insurance company; rather, you send your check to someone with a real medical need, along with a note to let them know you are praying for them and thinking of them. The person in need has to provide a copy of their medical bill and Samaritan takes care of making sure the person’s need qualifies underneath the established guidelines.”The ministry serves as a hub for meeting members’ needs with funding from other members. For the Stammens, medical bills under $300 are paid out of their pocket. Needs greater than $300 are covered by Samaritan members.In a nutshell, Stammen said the sharing process is:1. A medical need begins. When a member has a health care need, they receive heath care treatment from a provider of their choice, collect the bills, and send them to Samaritan Ministries.2. Samaritan publishes the need. Samaritan Ministries verifies that the need meets the guidelines. Then, in the monthly newsletter mailing, Samaritan Ministries directs some members to send their shares to the member with the need.3. Shares are received. The member with the need receives the shares to pay health care bills along with prayer and notes of encouragement.So, every month, the Stammens send their check (that is around $500 for their family of five) to a fellow member in need as directed by the ministry. In part, the ministry is successful because members are strongly encouraged to seek cash discounts from medical providers for services. Similar discounts are fairly typical for health care providers when working with large insurance companies.“Samaritan members are encouraged to be vigilant in asking for cash discounts and negotiating prices of services. If a patient pays on the day of service, medical providers are often willing to give discounts. Our family doctor gives us a self-pay discount. If your family doctor does not give any discounts and you decide to switch to a health share ministry, you may want to find a doctor who does,” Stammen said. “They may just take off 20% of the bill just for paying upfront in cash.”It was not long into their membership when the Stammens found themselves in need.“Soon after being accepting into Samaritan in December 2015, we found out we were expecting. There was a lot to consider with a pregnancy. I called many hospitals within a 60-mile radius inquiring what the charges would be for prenatal care and baby delivery. I got a lot of run-around and phone transfers, because many hospitals only deal with negotiating prices with insurance companies and didn’t usually deal with a patient wanting to pay cash. It was a little confusing and took some patience and a couple hours of time, but I felt that if other Samaritan members were going to be paying for my medical bills, doing the homework was worth it to get the best price for everyone. I found that the preferable hospital, which was closest to me, only offered a 3% cash discount, while a facility 50 miles away offered a 55% cash discount. To me, the thousands of dollars I would be saving from choosing the facility further away was worth the extra drive time and gas,” Stammen said. “For maternity needs, there were many OB appointments leading up to the delivery. The way Samaritan handles maternity needs is that a new ‘need’ is started with information like the baby’s anticipated due date. I made payments to the provider out of our checking account. I documented every bill no matter how small and added it to the main maternity need. There were times that I submitted eight bills at once. When you have an ongoing need like this, you have the option of paying for some of it upfront instead of sending all of them to Samaritan first and waiting for the reimbursement checks to come in. During this time, you also still need to make your regular monthly share payments. As your personal bills add up, Samaritan keeps track of them and they take care of telling other members how much money to send you. Within a month or two, you start receiving checks from other people. You may get a $250 check from a single and then a $400 check from a family. Even if you get bills months after the baby is born, you keep submitting them onto that main maternity need until all the bills are finished. Our total maternity bill was $18,184 minus $7,640 for being self-pay, so we ended up paying $10,544, and Samaritan reimbursed us for all of it.”Looking back, the Stammens have been very pleased with their decision.“Not only have we saved thousands of dollars — $11,400 for insurance per year versus around $6,200 for the Samaritan Classic family price, which includes the Save-to-Share option for bills over $250,000 — we feel more fulfilled on a spiritual level by being able to help like-minded Christians share their medical bill burdens,” she said. “The community of believers comes together as one body to assist members in need.”Mitchell Stammen farms full time and health insurance was extremely costly for his family. Photo provided by Michelle Stammen.Another benefit of being part of these programs is that members are not penalized for not having insurance. Members need to complete IRS created Form 8965, which indicates what portion of the year they were a member of a health care sharing ministry. Health care sharing also satisfies the mandates of the federal Affordable Care Act.Participation in the ministry does come with requirements of a Christian faith and lifestyle.“Within the guidelines, they specifically mention that members agree to limit consumption of alcohol to moderate amounts and never drink to drunkenness, or cause another brother or sister in Christ to stumble,” Stammen said. “Members must be professing Christians who attend a Christian church regularly. They must agree to abstain from sinful practices such as drug abuse and sexual immorality. If you are in an accident because of drunkenness, you are unable to submit the bill. They must be accountable to a pastor or other Christian church leader for the needs they submit. To me, these are important morals to live by anyways, and we have no problem abiding by them.”There are numerous options available that can offer different advantages based on the specifics of different families and situations. A very helpful resource (though some of the numbers are outdated) comparing some of the options can be found here: http://www.cchfreedom.org/pr/MEDICAL_SHARING_MINISTRIES-COMPARISON_CHART.pdf.For many, health insurance may still the best option, but a growing number of people are looking into cost sharing health programs. There are many details to carefully consider, but for many families like the Stammens, health sharing has been a great fit.last_img read more