Liberty Healthshare is a 4th healthcare sharing ministry, which is fairly small (and growing) and has now established themselves under Gospel Light Mennonite Church Medical Aide Plan, Inc which now makes them an eligible sharing ministry under the ACA.
If this page is your first glimpse of Samaritan and you are interested in more details about how Samaritan Ministries works, please read through the pages at the right as I go into a lot of detail about everything. If you have questions don’t hesitate to ask! 🙂
|LIBERTY UNITE||LIBERTY CONNECT
| PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY AMOUNT BEFORE SHARING STARTS (AUA)
||$300/incident (can be reduced to $0 with discounts)||$1500/incident (can be reduced to $0 with discounts)||
$1000 for an individual
$1,750 for a couple
$2,250 for a family
$1000 for an individual
$2,000 for a couple
$3,000 for a family
$4000 for an individual
$8000 for a couple
$12,000 for a family
|family of 4, adults age 49||$596||$350||$999||$749||$589|
|couple up to age 35 (or 2 person membership)||$511||$240||$459||$339||$259|
|(see full cost structure here)||see full cost structure here||$50/mo for each member over 5 people. $75 annual renewal fee.|
|SHARING PERCENTAGE||100% of shareable||90% of shareable||100% after AUA met||85% after AUA met||75% after AUA met|
|CO-SHARE (what member pays)||n/a||10% (up to max of $13,500)||0% after AUA met||15% after AUA met||25% after AUA met|
|MATERNITY SHARING||100% of shareable, included||max of $5000||included||included||included|
MINISTRIES (both plans)
|LIBERTY HEALTHSHARE (all plans)|
|WHEN BILL SHARING CAN START||Immediately||Immediately|
|PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY REDUCED WITH DISCOUNTS
||YES (on both Samaritan plans any discounts you get on a bill reduces your $300 Classic or $1500 Basic PR amount, all the way to $0)||NO|
|ANNUAL FEES, APPLICATION FEES||No annual fee, $200 application fee||$135 1st year membership fee
$75 each following year membership fee
No apparent application fee
|PROVIDER NETWORK||NONE, see any doctors||NONE, see any doctors|
|GUIDELINES OF COVERAGE||Samaritan
|EXTRA SHARING PROGRAM||yes – Special Prayer Needs for non-publishable needs like dental, pre-existing, etc||No extra program|
|METHOD OF PAYMENT||send direct to Members||members send money to online sharebox accounts|
|AVAILABILITY||all states||all states|
|PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS||1. For most issues if the condition has been considered “cured” with no treatments or symptoms for 12 months, it’s no longer pre-existing.
2. For cancers and heart conditions the timeframe is 5 years
3. Type 1 diabetes is always considered pre-existing.
4. New, unrelated cancers are shared right away, even if you had a different cancer previously.
|Deemed pre-existing if conditions have had symptoms/treatments or meds within the past 24 months.
No sharing year 1.
Starting month 37 no longer considered pre-existing. Per guidelines, Liberty may deny membership to those with active pre-existing issues.
|REFERRAL PROGRAM||$100 credit||$100 Visa giftcard|
|HOSPICE CARE||Fully shareable for 90 days with doctors order, extended in 90 day increments as long as doctor prescribes.||Pays for 5 days in any 30 day period|
|WHO SENDS BILLS||patient sends bills to Samaritan||doctors send bills to Liberty electronically|
Save to Share program for everything above $250,000.
No lifetime limits
New guidelines state no more lifetime limits. Apr 2016.
|CATASTROPHIC COVERAGE||Save to Share program is for everything above $250,000 with no limit.||Guardians Group program is for everything above $125,000 up to $1 million. There are some limitations.|
|FAQ||Samaritan FAQs||Liberty FAQs|
|PRESCRIPTION DRUGS||All drugs related to an incident/treatment and those as part of hospital treatments are shared plus four calendar months of maintenance drugs. Cancer meds are not subject to that limitation.||45 days before and after each related medical
|PHONE NUMBERS||(888) 268-4377||(855) 585-4239|
Liberty has made some pricing and responsibility amount (Liberty calls in an AUA) increases so I have updated those on the chart. The monthly share amounts for Liberty increased by as much as $100/mo for some levels and the Annual Unshared Amount (AUA) went up about $500-$750 depending on the level. This change means that Samaritan Classic is a few dollars cheaper than Liberty Essential (bottom plan) and a lot cheaper than their higher plans. Samaritan Classic shares to $250,000 with the option of Save to Share for unlimited sharing, while Liberty’s top two plans share up to $1 million per need with no option for expanding that I could find. Since Samaritan classic has only a $400/need responsibility amount, compared to Liberty’s varying AUAs, this makes Samaritan Classic a considerably better “deal” from a dollar viewpoint. Samaritan also has no annual fee for the base plan, vs Liberty’s $75 recurring fee. With Libery’s monthly fees all being higher than Samaritan’s Classic level, and having higher AUA’s, at this time I would not recommend any of their plan levels from a financial viewpoint. Liberty has continued to make plan changes as they’ve grown and changed over the years, perhaps something will change again in the future to make them a closer comparison.
- They both have similar statements of faith required, although Liberty’s statement is not as doctrinally Christian as Samaritan’s.
- No tobacco use.
- No coverage for abortion
- Both will prorate needs if needs are bigger than available shares, both have policies for raising monthly shares if needs are prorated too often
- No networks, allow you to see any doctor
- Both have a membership card that you can present to providers
- Both allow for sharing of some alternative treatments, usually with prior approval and not too expensive. Liberty just recently started this allowance mid Feb, Samaritan recently expanded their sharing for alternative treatments to be more encompassing.
- Liberty does share for 1 wellness visit per year and shares routine mammogram and colonoscopies every 2 years until age 49, every year for age 50 and up.
- I can’t find anything about any extra sharing plans (like Samaritan has Special Prayer Needs for those expenses like dental which don’t otherwise meet the guidelines)
- Liberty has a discount program you can join which gives discounts at participating dentists, eye doctors, etc. Samaritan offers free access to something similar.
- Liberty has a lot more services that they don’t share vs how many they will share
- Liberty has a step up plan for pre-existing conditions, no longer pre-existing in year 4 of membership.
- Liberty does allow for same sex couples/partners (married or not) to join but they must join under separate memberships not as a married couple. Liberty is the only HCSM I know which allows this.
- Even the top sharing plan with Liberty has an incident cap of $1 million. Lifetime caps have been removed. Samaritan has no caps if you’re in the Save to Share program and no lifetime caps regardless.
Liberty is a very small ministry with about 28,000 members as of Sept 2016 (according to a couple of member reviews). Initially there weren’t a lot of reviews out there, but I’m now able to find quite a few on google and social media. Unfortunately the more recent reviews are quite negative with a few positive ones in between. I get the impression that Liberty has had trouble managing their growth and customer service is now lacking, and bill payment has been poor for several members. The firm they use to get additional discounts, Claims Delegate Services, told a member that it could take a year to get billing settled. That is not a good sign, and hopefully it’s an isolated case. I didn’t even consider them at first because being exempt from the ACA is critical to me, and they were not for sure exempt when we picked a ministry. After having confirmation they are exempt they were previously my 3rd choice for a ministry to join, but the negative reviews lately have put them in 4th position. I am concerned about their small size (of course they all had to start small), they cap incidents at $1 million which bothers me tremendously if we were to have a very expensive issue, but their lifetime caps have been removed as of Apr 2016. I wish they had an extra sharing program that the other 3 have.
Liberty updated their guidelines regarding births: “Medical expenses for a newborn, including congenital birth defects, and/or complications at the time of delivery, including, but not limited to, premature birth, are treated as a separate incident, subject to the applicable Annual Unshared Amount.” That is a very good update compared to their older policy.
Guardians Group level is what provides member sharing for incidents above $125k. However, it will not share expenses for organ transplants, and has waiting periods on a couple other issues. Please review their guidelines for more details.
Liberty’s website says that providers are reimbursed at Medicare’s rate plus 50-70% depending on if it’s inpatient or outpatient or physician charges. I am curious what happens if the provider doesn’t agree to that reimbursement rate, does the patient get balance billed? My area hospitals wouldn’t accept those payment levels, but I’m sure lots do. That is something you should ask Liberty if you are considering them. I am starting to see more negative reviews on review sites, but there are also positive ones. Some people have had trouble getting bills paid, even for their routine visits. I’m sure that’s not the case for everyone, and it may be just a timing delay. They do state they abide by Christian principals, but I think they are more loose about some of those definitions. I’ve read that Liberty Healthshare only require you to believe that government should be out of healthcare and share like-minded beliefs, and apparently couples in non traditional marriages are allowed to join, but only as single members on separate accounts.
I have not called Liberty to get information on their program, I am just reviewing what is available on their site and I update this page every few months. Overall I am cautious and skeptical about Liberty, but think they have good potential for the future. Their guidelines appear a little restrictive and confusing, but that does seem to be improving as they grow (I’ve been watching their guidelines for a couple of years). I would pick their top plan, wouldn’t even consider the bottom two if I was choosing them.
Please review their website for any updates they have done on new sharing guidelines.
OUR NEED EXPERIENCE
We recently experienced a surgical need while Samaritan members and found it to be a very simple, straightforward, rewarding experience (as much as any medical event can be). The big question is always, “will it work?” and I can honestly say, without any hesitation, YES IT DOES. We had 100% of the costs of my husband’s surgery shared by Samaritan members and all of it was received 2 1/2 months after the surgery was performed. That is faster than any insurance payout we’ve had in the past, and the Samaritan staff was wonderful, as were the medical staff upon hearing that we are self pay and learning we are ministry members. You can read more about it in my blog posts (links at right), but overall the process demonstrated that need sharing is simple, the staff were supportive and we loved the cards and prayers from members, and we had the entire cost shared (we got an immediate 50% discount for being cash pay). The doctor was thrilled to be dealing only with his patient, and we received the best care from our preferred surgeon. This is how health care should be. Without question. If you are looking for something that better fits your family please give Samaritan a look. I think you’ll be thrilled with what you find. 🙂
Update: We had a second need this year and it was all fully shared at 100% within 2 months of submitting the bills. The online submission process was fast and easy, the prayer support from the staff was amazing when I called needing a little pick-me-up about my situation, and the notes from members along with the checks were also very comforting. I strongly encourage you to check out Samaritan if you want to regain control of your health care without all the headaches and hassles that insurance can be.
If you’d like more information you can click here to request an information packet direct
from Samaritan or signup online.
218 thoughts on “Samaritan Ministries vs Liberty Healthshare”
Looking at Samaritan compared to Solidarity. Solidarity looks very promising with wellness visit, colonoscopy, pap smear, etc. These are taken care. I was worried about 1 million limit. But, that 1 million kicks in every year per incident. 1500 dollar / compared 300. I am thinking you probably will spend at least 900 per year with MSM and save 500 due to total cost. You add in cost of wellness , colonoscopy, pap smear..and your cost is truly less for Solidarity. Let me know you thoughts.
Hi Audy, thanks for asking. It’s hard to know because Solidarity doesn’t list their monthly share costs on the site and individual quotes are required (I’m guessing based on age?), which is an important part of determining total cost. Solidarity also has yearly membership fees on top of the shares, and extra costs if the member is required to have a personal health coach to obtain better health (for certain issues). I found another site that indicates Solidarity and Liberty are very similar, possibly under the same parent company, but affiliated with different ministries. There are definitely benefits and potential drawbacks of each. Liberty has always concerned me with balance billing potential by the provider, and if the practices are really that similar to Liberty’s I would be cautious. I would only consider the level that allows for up to $1 million per incident, because the lower levels don’t “cover” enough. You would want to confirm the $1 million actually rolls over each year, because some issues can easily cross $1 million (cancer, heart, etc), and do they cap it at $1 million before or after discounts? If it rolls to a new year, does the $1 million start over for that incident, or does it stay in effect until a new incident occurs? Without spending a lot of time digging, it appears that Solidarity is likely an offshoot of Liberty structurally, but geared for Catholics. If Liberty was attractive to you then Solidarity would be also, especially for Catholics. I recommend asking Solidarity the same questions I would ask of Liberty or any other ministry; balance billing potential, $1 million cap rules, what kinds of things aren’t shared, etc. Good luck with your research and decision! Overall I still agree that healthcare sharing ministries are very beneficial for people and our family has thoroughly enjoyed being Samaritan members all these years. I wouldn’t change a thing. 🙂
I’m not a big church goer, so Liberty looks like a good option for me, but wow. Samaritan looks like a better fit when I see the numbers and I don’t like the other reviews I’ve read online about Liberty. What should I do?
Hi Matt. My best advice is to find your way back to church. A friend of mine was in a similar situation and she made the decision that going back to church regularly was in her best interest for more than one reason. She made an effort to go every week and after a couple months felt comfortable enough with her attendance to join Samaritan. If you don’t have a home church you like, ask a good friend where they go. Perhaps you’ll discover a great new church that will meet your spiritual needs. Sometimes it takes a push like this to get us back on track. I know it helped me to feel more like I belonged at church and to find a new connection and purpose. Maybe it will help you, too.
Were these 2 entries on 12/9/18 or in November?
The blog is using European dating for some reason, so they were made on Sept 12.
I was in the same boat as you in terms of the church part. We’re not conventionally religious. I ended up jioining Liberty a few years ago and was sent to collections after getting a balance bill from a doctor’s office. Not sure what good options are out there though for us.
Liberty has made some big increases to their monthly rates and to their Annual Unshared Portion. I have updated the table above to reflect these new amounts.
I’ve seen some other reviews about Liberty that weren’t very good. Like one said they waited over a year for payment. Is that true? That’s crazy. But I like that they will cover a physical every year. I know you picked Samaritan, but wondered if you thought Liberty was better now?
Hi Marcus. I’m not familiar enough to know if waiting a year for payment is true, but I would assume at least part of their story is, if not all. Liberty usually pays the doctor direct from what I understand, but even then you’d want the payment to be timely. I know that Liberty has had some growing pains, and maybe that led to some of it. I think they are probably better than a few years ago, but it isn’t hard to find several negative reviews with pretty recent dates. There are still some reviews saying their doctors aren’t getting paid very quickly, but I don’t know if those get resolved satisfactorily. Unfortunately those reviews still give me pause if I were to consider them for our family. I agree, paying for a physical each year is nice, and that has worked well for many I think. But I can still pay $200 for a physical, cash, and not have some of the other headaches that come with it. I’m very much type A, and pretty logical most of the time, so right now Samaritan still makes the most sense for our family because it’s so simple, straightforward, and it has lived up to my rather high expectations. Good luck with your decision! 🙂
Be aware Liberty excludes activities like Rock Climbing, etc. in their policy.
While I know this post is a little dated I wanted to thank you for sharing the information. Our family made the transition to Liberty from traditional health insurance and reviews like this helped us. We are going to chronicle our experience at http://www.mylibertyexperience.com so others might benefit from what we learn. Thanks again for sharing the information you did.
Having read the Liberty guidelines, I don’t see anywhere that extramarital sex is not allowed. Nor do I see it upheld as a biblical standard that members are expected to live up to.
I don’t see it anymore either, they may have removed that from their specific wording. I will remove it from my list of similarities. In section C (maintaining a Godly lifestyle) the listing of lifestyle requirements is described as “includes but not limited to”, so I’m not sure if they lump it in with that or if that is no longer a concern for them. That’s a question someone interested in Liberty should ask simply because of the “not limited to” wording in section C.
I’ve been researching healthshare options recently and found this site to be very helpful! I did want to point out however that Liberty must’ve changed it’s policy on sharing expenses for newborns. The guidelines as of today read, “Medical expenses for a newborn, including congenital birth defects, and/or complications at the time of delivery, including, but not limited to, premature birth, are treated as a separate incident, subject to the applicable Annual Unshared Amount.” They are not limited to $125,000 as stated in the reviews section above.
Hi Julia. That is good news. I will update my information accordingly. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you for explaining how health share ministires work and for the questions you answer, which are helpful to more folk that merely to those who ask them.
We are looking into health share ministries because our insurance premiums for 2018 have gone up to $1,300/month with a deductible of $13K/anuum, for a family of 2!
We have ruled out Liberty from the complaints about Liberty we’ve read in the BBB (Better Business Bureau), which are too scary!
We have to choose from the remaining 3 ministries, namely: Christian Healthcare Min., Samaritan, and Medi-Share
Of these, we have thus far looked closely at Samaritan and Medi-Share.
I hope very much that you have a done a close comparison with Christian Healthcare as well. Have you?
Hi Fredie. I wouldn’t like that insurance quote either. Yikes! Yes, you can find the link to all my comparisons at this page: http://samaritanministriesreview.com/compare-to-other-ministries/ It gives links to my CHM, Medishare and Liberty comparisons. Good luck with your research and God bless.
Thank you for the chart and comparison between two ministries. However, I noticed that you had no limit for Samaritan’s for amount of sharing.
Does not Samaritan’s place a $250,000 limit per need?
Hi Caleb. Samaritan has no limit on sharing per need if you are part of Save to Share (add-on program for anything above $250,000). Either way there are no lifetime limits. If you don’t have Save to Share then there’s a $250k limit on the Classic plan and $236,500 on the Basic plan. In the chart that is detailed in the sections called “coverage limits” and “catastrophic coverage”.
Due to rising costs of medical insurance and limited choices — my husband and I are both independent contractors — we are looking into health cost sharing ministries like Samaritan for our family of four. Two questions I hope you can answer for us: 1) I currently have kidney stones. I had a condition called hyperparathyroidism which was corrected with surgery 15 years ago, but because of calcifications that remain in my kidneys, I can still form storms. I don’t take any treatment or meds for them and simply keep an eye on them. It is rare, but if one causes problems and doesn’t pass, I need intervention. I am otherwise a very healthy individual. How would this be handled if we are with Samaritan? 2) We are Catholic and Catholics friends of ours use CURO. What are the benefits/differences to using CURO vs just going with the Samaritan Classic plan for our family? Many thanks!
Hello Zoe. If the hyperparathyroidism was corrected, then I’m not sure how it would be different than anyone else who gets kidney stones. You would need to go 12 months without a stone, or any symptoms and treatments and then it could probably fall out of PEC status. The remaining calcification is the only thing which may wrinkle that since it in itself could be seen as PEC. Call Samaritan to be sure, and they will probably have a few specific questions to determine where that falls. Even if it is seen as pre-existing, it doesn’t sound like it would be a common expense to deal with, plus any resulting expenses would also be shareable as a special prayer need, on top of getting cash pay discounts.
As for the differences between CURO and Samaritan, my understand is that CURO exists because of Catholics who weren’t comfortable agreeing with the Samaritan statement of faith. Financially CURO would add $84/mo to your Samaritan membership rate (it essentially rides on top of a Samaritan membership) and adds a few additional resources as a result. Receiving shares could be through a membership debit card, available discounts on services not shareable by Samaritan, access to health and wellness tools online, and a few other things. Using CURO you could pick from either Samaritan classic or basic, then add the $84 charge for CURO member services. I wish you the best with your decision, and I’m so glad you’re looking at health sharing ministries. God bless!
Here is a 2017 review site I just found for Liberty: https://clubthrifty.com/liberty-healthshare-review/
Liberty Healthshare has almost ruined my credit multiple times now and I haven’t had them for almost a year now. My name with them was Lori Eckels. In 2015 I was in a major car accident that sent me to an othro. I had several visits. The way my plan was set up I was to pay my monthly membership fee, a $500 shared amount, and the rest of my bills were to be covered. I met my shared amount prior to my car accident because I had been to the hospital earlier that month. I received bill, after bill, after bill, from the medical office finally threatening me taking this case to collections- I had no choice but to pay about $400 OOP to cover my bill from 2015. I had been in communication with Liberty the whole time. They asked if my car insurance would be picking up my medical bills- I sent them a letter from my agent saying no. They claimed I didn’t met my unshared amount which was not true- I had went to the hospital prior and then added my husband in Feb. 2016 (which made my unshared amount go up.) I have had phone calls with representative’s, managers, over and over again. I finally paid it and said whatever I am not ruining my credit because of a company I dealt with in 2015. I thought the nightmare was over. I just received a bill in the mail for $1000 from a heart doctor I went to April of 2016. The medical office says they have been billing my insurance for over a year with nothing heard back from them. I called liberty once more- the person I spoke to was extremely rude to me and said they never received a bill. She gave me an email address to send the balance bill to… she gave me the wrong email address. Luckily, I of course have it from previous problems. I am 9 months pregnant and about to be down to one income very soon. I have dropped $400 dollars and now someone is wanting another $1000 from me for a bill I do not owe. To say that they have been a nightmare to me financially is an understatement. It is very disheartening that they call themselves a Christian company when the employees are rude and not trustworthy. I hope that this review finds you and you go a different route.
I’m confused. Maybe because of the different state rules regarding PIP plans but in FL– PIP auto insurance pays the medical bills resulting in a vehicle incident. Any excess bills are still not paid by regular health insurance. Why would the health share be expected to pay these bills? There was once a health insurance option that did allow for this but those I would think are nonexistent now. Again, my confusion my be warranted due to different state laws.
Most states don’t require PIP, and even those who have it find there’s a coverage cap (some lower than others). The medical bills beyond the cap still have to be paid. I’m not a car insurance expert, but a brief bit of research shows health insurance (or the other car insurance policy depending on coverage) does end up paying something… in fact having PIP and health insurance can also lead to complications over who pays how much/when. It is a state by state situation. FL is one of 13 states requiring PIP, the minimum PIP coverage in FL is $10,000, which doesn’t get very far so then health insurance (or a ministry) would need to take over the rest. Sometimes the other driver’s car insurance covers it, but it very much depends on the policy that driver has (if any). PIP coverage is expensive, so I’m guessing it’s not often purchased outside of the required states.
We have been on Samaritan now for a couple of months. My original thought was that when I had a medical need I could make a payment plan with the facility/doc and pay that amount until I was reimbursed by Samaritan. Which would work well for our family. However what I have run into twice now (once at an urgent care and once at our pediatrician) is that to get the discounted cash price, the facilities/docs are requiring we pay the ENTIRE discounted amount up front, which we don’t have. No payment plan offered. If I don’t pay the entire discounted amount up front I lose the discount and have to pay the regular full amount, which then they will do a payment arrangement on. Any idea how to handle this?
Hi Tim. Every location handles they’re payment rules their own way. At the two places you mentioned I would consider one of the following… 1. If it’s a small enough amount, go ahead and prepay the whole thing for the discount (Samaritan recommends this only if its a big discount, like at least 40%) and get reimbursed later. We did this for my husband’s surgery and got 50% off. It made the amount tiny enough to fit on our credit card (or come from medical savings). However you said you didn’t have it in those cases so…2. If it’s a bigger amount, I would be sure they understood how Samaritan works to see if that changes their mind (speak to a higher level billing person, or even the doctor to make sure the person in charge knows), offer a number affordable to you as prepay that will still qualify for discount and payment plan and if they still don’t budge then politely thank them, choose the payment plan, and contact Samaritan at some point so they know (not required, just keeping them in the loop if it’s a need that qualifies for sharing). Samaritan uses Karis for these kinds of negotiations and often is able to get that discount later anyway. If not, well, there’s only so much you can pay ahead, and Samaritan doesn’t actually encourage paying ahead in full unless you can get a big discount and you can afford it. If you can’t afford it, then they definitely don’t want you to do it. You are in control here. We always try to get the discounts we can, but not every situation will allow for that. The main thing is to get the care you need and know that the ministry is backing you. It may be that once the facility has more experience with you as a patient and Samaritan member then they may allow it in the future. Anything is possible. 🙂 You should do your best, but don’t feel bad if the facility causes a change of plans. And speak with Samaritan in those situations for further guidance. Having a small medical savings account will help with budgeting for checkups and small unexpected events to cash flow those situations. But sometimes it can take a while to build that up. God bless!
Hi I was wondering if Samaritan covers yearly mammograms for women and/or yearly colonoscopy for men. How does that work?
Hi Tim. Those are generally not shared as they fall under preventative/maintenance that members budget for on their own. however, if during one of those exams a problem is found (hopefully not!), then the costs for the mammo or colonoscopy become shareable also as they were part of the diagnosis of the need. Members find they are saving so much vs insurance pricing that paying for those yearly checkups on their own is manageable and still cheaper than insurance. The colonoscopy is the pricey one, but those aren’t done yearly unless someone had an issue prior. Those are recommended to be done every 5-10 years (usually 10) and members save up for them. Members search for the cheapest cash rate, and can use a free medibid account that Samaritan provides in order to get those quotes if they want (very helpful in urban areas with so many places to contact). We also call around for cash pricing on mammos, and the imaging centers tend to be cheaper than hospitals, but it really depends on the location.
So just to clarify, the mammo or colonoscopy are not shareable but if a problem is found as a result of the mamma or colonoscopy, then their cost is shareable. Is that correct?
Thank Heather, I appreciate it.
Hi, I was wondering if Integrated Medicine/Naturopathic Medicine is covered if I went to see one. They are not MD’s so would Samaritan cover that?
Hi Tim, the short answer is yes, Samaritan does offer some sharing for Naturopathic medicine. The guidelines state: “Naturopathic adjustments, manipulations, and similar treatments are subject to the same 40 office visit limits as other therapy (see VIII.B.36). Other treatments lawfully provided by a licensed Doctor of Naturopathy that meet all other requirements will be publishable.”
While Samaritan does offer sharing for some alternative medicine, it can sometimes require prior authorization. If there is a question about a specific procedure I would recommend speaking with someone at Samaritan for further clarification to your specific situation. I feel Samaritan’s openness to alternative treatment options is a great benefit.
Thank you, I appreciate the info.
So I am a 50+ single female with no health issues. I had to drop Obamacare mid 2016 because of the cost. An exemption was already in place. I need to have health insurance to be able to go on a mission trip and would like to have the least expensive option with the best benefits for something like an auto accident or an illness
Hi Bristol. These ministries aren’t technically health insurance, so you’d want to be sure that joining one still meets the requirements of the mission group. If health care sharing ministries are ok for the mission then Samaritan’s rate for a single person is $220/mo for the base membership. For what you’re describing it would provide sharing for those expenses, assuming the illness is not pre-existing. Samaritan has many members who are missionaries and use the service outside of the US. If you do experience a need while on the trip the bills would need to be translated into English and the total cost into US dollars. You would also need a US based address for sending/receiving shares. Often times people have someone back home handle that for them, either friends/family members or an associated church. Samaritan is very mission friendly, so I think they’d be a great option for you. God bless!
Thank you! I currently have no pre-existing conditions. I am in good health and for several years have only done my annual exams with no other visits needed. I have been reading your comparisons between the various options and they are the same ones I have been investigating. At one point you had CMH as your second choice. Would that still be the same now? And Liberty as number 4?
Yes, I would still have CHM as my second choice and Liberty as 4th. Having experienced a need while a Samaritan member and seeing first hand how smooth and quick the need sharing process was I am even more confident in my recommendation of Samaritan. They shared 100% of my husband’s medical expenses, and all the shares arrived in February after a December surgery because we were able to submit our bills online right away. Their staff are so friendly and operate with the highest integrity consistent with their guidelines and biblical principles. Samaritan is amazing. 🙂
Hi, I have a question. I talked with my pastor and showed him the application Sunday. He wanted to know what liability he could be under by signing the application and needs submission forms. We are members of a HUGE church in Atlanta and he knows me but not well. So, I understand his concern, especially because he has not heard of Samaritan. He said he has no problem signing it for me, but asked if Samaritan could ever come back on him for ANYTHING whatsoever because his signature is on the application and submission forms? Would he ever be obligated in any way to Samaritan and if not, how does he know that for sure? Can you help me answer this for him?
Hi Tim. Interesting question. Based on my experience with Samaritan he should feel comfortable signing it, however, he may feel better hearing it directly from them. The pastor’s signature is to help keep members accountable and have discussions with their church leaders as appropriate. It is not a tool for litigation. He only needs to sign the application and the annual renewals stating that to the best of his knowledge you are not participating in a lifestyle against the Samaritan guidelines. Pastor’s do NOT sign for each need anymore. Samaritan knows your lifestyle choices are ultimately your responsibility so his signature is merely confirming that his knowledge of your choice is sound, you’re part of his flock and he’s willing to guide you, help you maintain accountability and be a spiritual resource for you. He should never feel pressured to sign for a member if he knows there’s a lifestyle problem, and Samaritan is putting their faith him to sign according to his own moral code and relationship with God. They may contact a pastor if there are “issues” with a member, but only as a respected leader who can provide guidance, not to accuse or blame. If that isn’t helpful, please have him contact Samaritan to get more clarification. Thanks for asking! 🙂
Thanks for the info, I will let him know. Have a great weekend.
What options do I have besides Liberty? I have spent three months trying to get coverage with Liberty and they keep coming back with a need for ‘one more’ piece of information about a condition that was cured 10 years ago. I have had to have several blood tests and now they want a letter from my doctor! Since I have not seen the doc who treated the condition since cured 10 years ago, and since my PCP has never seen me for the condition or even discussed it with me I don’t know what doctor would be willing to give a letter like that. Certainly not the one I haven’t seen in 10 years, I don’t even remember his name! And I guarantee the doctor who has never even discussed the condition with me will not write a letter stating it is fine. FRUSTRATED and ready to give up. Please help! Who can I go to that won’t put me through this?
Hi Christi, I’m so sorry to hear of your frustrations. Samaritan Ministries (what this site is primarily about) would be a great option for you and far less frustrating; I bet they won’t put you through ANY of that. The application for Samaritan was so simple. It does want to know pre-existing issues, but for something cured 10 years ago you will have no problems as most pre-existings fall out of that status after just one year of being “cured”. I strongly suggest giving them a call. You can also get their information packet and join online if you wish. Their customer service is outstanding and everyone is so friendly. This link will give you several avenues for reaching them. http://samaritanministriesreview.com/application-info-packet/ Since they’re not open on weekends I would recommend filling out the online form. Also look around this site as I have a lot of information about Samaritan which will help. God bless! 🙂
Hi Christi, I am considering Liberty, jus wondering why was this incident brought up, since it was past 3 years?
I have Liberty and recently had to go to the doctor for something big and scary. Sent to a specialist, blah blah. Fortunately, I am well, but almost fell over when I received a letter stating that the bill was nearly $10,000. I called Liberty, and nearly cried with relief when they said not to worry, that this was a case of being insanely overcharged by the hospital, and that Liberty had already paid the proper amount to the hospital. Liberty sent the notice to me because they wanted to let me know that if the hospital came to get the money directly from me, that I should contact Liberty instead and that they would handle it, because I had already paid my proper amount. I’ve always has regular insurance before and was a little hesitant about changing, but I am absolutely thrilled with my decision about picking up Liberty Health Share now.
i am looking at the health-shares. I have been a insulin diabetic for the last 10 years, does this mean my condition will always be considered a preexisting condition?
Hi Martin. Yes, Type 1 Diabetes is always considered pre-existing (at least according to current guidelines). Liberty likely wouldn’t accept you as a member (never hurts to ask), but if you meet the lifestyle and Statement of faith requirements then Samaritan would still accept you because members are not turned down for health reasons. Samaritan would be able to share costs for qualifying needs not related to the diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can fall out of pre-existing status with Samaritan if the conditions in the guidelines are met (no symptoms/med/treatment for 12 months and A1C levels at 7% or less in month before and after the 12 month period). I hope you are able to find a good solution. God bless!
I have type two diabetes and being on insulin for 10 years it looks like even though I have no problems with symptoms I do of course need meds and 4 doctor visits a year, so my conclusion is I will always be considered a PEC corrrect?
Yes, from what you describe it sounds like it would be an ongoing PEC. The doctor checkups probably aren’t the issue as they aren’t treatment (and those are generally paid for on our own anyway) but I suspect the insulin would be considered a med that would keep it in PEC status. I would suggest giving Samaritan a call, though, in case there is an aspect to that I’m not aware of. Type 2 does have the ability to get out of PEC status, but I don’t know if that’s something that’s possible in your case or not.
With Samaritan, would I tell the medical facilities I am on a “self pay” rate? Also, a friend suggested, if I’m in a health share to also get a program like Medallus for general checkups. Would you advise that to cover mammograms and colonoscopies? (The general office exam costs would be nominal and comfortably paid with the $600/month I would be saving.)
Hi Racquel. Yes, you would tell your providers you are cash pay or self pay and ask what their cash pay rates are. There are quite a few ministry members who join clinics with monthly fees like what Medallus is; it looks like Medallus gets you access to more than one location which is nice. Whether you join one or not is up to you and your comfort level. Others find that just paying cash on an as needed basis is cheaper or just as easy without, but it may depend on how often you expect to need those services and if you want that additional cushion throughout the year. Where I live it’s not really available, but fortunately it’s also not really necessary as all the providers here are used to cash patients. I very much like the idea though and anticipate more doctors will go to that model. I can imagine in some cities it would be very nice to have something like that. You could try it for a year and see if it it’s worth it to you. 🙂 It would work well in conjunction with a ministry membership if you were so inclined. Thanks for asking and Merry Christmas!
Thanks so much for your quick reply! One more question, do I need to sign up today to coincide with the other traditional health insurance requirement? Procrastinators unite!
And Merry Christmas to you too!
You can join Samaritan anytime as they always have open enrollment. 🙂 Your joining date can start as soon as they get your application or you can future date it to Jan 1 or whatever date is convenient for you.
I just found another Catholic health share plan which is almost identical to Liberty’s. It’s called Solidarity Health Share and is also exempt from penalties with ACA. I have a call into them to find out more info. Pricing is exactly the same as Liberty. CMF Curo (Catholic) is like Samaritan except you pay more for some added benefits which were of little value to me.
I would urge caution before you sign up with LibertyHS. I was there one year with no pre-existing conditions; just signed up because I am self-employed and Obama made it a crime to care for own health by practicing balanced nutrition. Their customer service help is very rude. Not very Christian at all. Trump has signed an executive order that IRS can no longer penalize anyone without medical insurance.
Not true! The individual mandate is still in place as of 8/18/17. Look it up.
Hi, Jean! It seems to me that one of the benefits is that with CMF Curo, your address is not distributed to anyone. Members send checks directly to a special bank account for each member. Also, there’s a special CMF Charity fund that members can apply for, so that could be an added cushion. The extra money also goes to cover NaproTechnology and an Ethics consultation line. And I’m guessing that some of the money goes to Christus Medicus to help cover legal protection for Catholics. However, I don’t like that CMF Curo does not disclose at this time how the extra $84 a month is distributed. That’s a lot of extra money a month for those added benefits.
All this ins. mess is a nightmare so we are looking at health share plans as well. I guess my only holdback for Samaritan is paying someone directly. I don’t understand how you know these charges are valid. Do the members in need bills come from Dr’s office and go through you and then you send out the info. to sharing members or do the members in need send a request for funds to you? I couldn’t really find an explanation on how this really works. How do we know these donations are going to their medical bills?
Also, as far as Liberty, it looks like they have quite the extensive health questionnaire, and they ask permission from you to share your medical records with peers for their review and others. Don’t feel comfortable with that either.
Hello Suz. Thanks for asking. The entire process is coordinated by Samaritan and runs very smoothly. Samaritan only shares/publishes expenses for needs they have reviewed first. All bills submitted for sharing must go through Samaritan’s office first; members receive the bills from the doctor, then they can mail them or submit them online to Samaritan (online submission is a new feature, yay!). They are checked by Samaritan for errors, potential extra discounts, and to confirm they meet the guidelines. Samaritan then totals the bills and assigns specific members to send their share to that person through a customized share slip along with the monthly newsletter (the person you’re sending to changes every month). The member receiving the money from others then deposits those checks and pays off the medical bills. That member also receives a checklist so they know who will be sending money and the exact amount to expect. As part of the agreement for being a member we must sign off that the money received goes toward those qualifying medical bills only. It’s a system that has worked very well for 20+ years. 🙂 In our three years as members we have sent money to people with new babies, various surgeries, broken bones and illnesses. It’s so wonderful to know that we are directly helping someone who had a medical need and we can share in that financial burden with them. The joy of sending to a real family instead of an insurance company is just huge. It really makes you feel like you’re doing good in the world, all in the name of Christ.
I had prostate surgery over two years ago .would this be considered as pre existing condition.I like liberty healthshare .Any advice please
Liberty’s preexisting rule the last time I checked indicated if there hasn’t been treatment or symptoms for 24 months then it’s no longer pre-existing, but I don’t know their specific rule on cancer (if that was the reason for surgery). I would recommend giving them a call to see what they say and to confirm the 24 month timeline is still true. Active issues are seen as pre-existing and they may deny membership if something is active, so it would depend on what the surgery was for and if there are still any issues as a result. With Samaritan if it was cancer related then the cancer has a 5 year pre-existing wait time, if not for cancer then it would probably fall into the 1 year wait time if there haven’t been any treatments, symptoms or meds for it.
I was denied membership by Liberty last month (November 2016). I had a small spot of skin cancer (diagnosed as in sutu melanoma) on my arm. Diagnosed in July 2014. Treated in Aug 2014. Fully excised and removed. Regular checkups every 4 months for 2 years with no recurrence and diagnosed as fully cancer free. The Liberty rep said they deny coverage on anyone who has been diagnosed with melanoma for the past 5 years. Period. I asked if they could make skin cancer a non-coverable expense and they said no. Clearly will not accept you as a member if “melanoma” anytime during last 5 years on your application.
I have just begun this process of looking into these share plans so forgive me, I have very limited knowledge. We are a family of 5, 3 kids who frequent the doctor with various kid illnesses from time to time. We are currently wasting $1,000 a month premium on standard insurance company with a very high deductible. That basically means, no matter what we do–we are paying out of pocket. Thankfully, nothing major has occurred to meet our deductible. Just like everyone else, I am concerned about giving up traditional insurance. The biggest thing I am confused about is there is one of those participating physicians offices in my area. Apparently, if you “join” their practice and become members, Liberty Direct will “pay” for the $100 monthly membership fee as part of your sharing. They would provide our annual well checkups, sick visits @ $25 each and other basic necessities. I guess Liberty Mutual would kick in as back up if we needed surgery or hospitalization. What confuses me is if I choose to still go to my regular doc or my kids regular pediatrician, how does that work?
Hi Megan. Unfortunately I don’t know how Liberty would handle something like that as we aren’t members, we joined Samaritan instead. My thinking is that if you plan to visit your own doctor regularly and he’s outside of their participating pool, then being part of Liberty Direct likely wouldn’t have much benefit for you. You’d want to pick their regular program if you aren’t intending to use a doctor who has a membership fee. I would recommend giving Liberty a call to see how to handle those situations. I don’t expect it to be a problem, but you may be overpaying (either for the wrong Liberty membership or the doctor membership) depending on which one you plan to use most often.
What is the recommended way to handle taxes? In other words, is it appropriate to clam the monthly share amount as a medical expense, as I would insurance premiums? Or is it okay to clam this as a donation? Or is it best to not to either?
I found your article concerning taxes, so I have my answer. Thanks.
Here’s the link for anyone else interested http://samaritanministriesreview.com/tax-details/
No big deal, I was just about to answer it. 🙂
Can I pay for my monthly premium with my HSA dollars? While I am working what would be recommended to keep in my corporate benefits plan vrs Samaritan’s plan i.e. dental, vision, life insurance etc?
Hi Rick. You’d need to check with whomever manages the HSA to get a list of rules regarding what can be paid for using that money. HSA’s are used to pay for medical expenses, but I have doubts about monthly shares qualifying for that. Check with the bank/HSA account manager to be sure. If I had one I would use it to pay for the non shared checkups, low cost doctor visits, misc medications and my $300 responsibility portion on bigger needs. Also, as a ministry member you wouldn’t be able to continue adding to the HSA tax free. That legislation isn’t through Congress yet.
If you are able to pick and choose certain benefits in your work plan then you would want to consider the cost and value of the things you mention as Samaritan doesn’t have standard sharing for most dental and vision. If you would likely use/need those services and can obtain them through work then it may be worth looking into for you. In my area dental and vision insurance don’t pay much more than the premiums going in. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense on the individual market, but if your company is paying most of it that would change it’s value. It has almost no value for us. Life insurance is a separate issue, I do recommend people have a good life insurance policy. Thanks for asking. I’m glad you’re looking into Samaritan and health care sharing. Have a blessed day!
If I sign up tomorrow will our membership take effect immediately? My wife paid our insurance premium for November and the premium for December will be due soon. We presently have Anthem via the AFCA. I told my wife not to pay the December premium, as the 3 month grace period will be in effect. She is afraid we will not have any coverage for a month or more. I am not sure why she si so concerned, as we have virtually no medical costs at present. She is always afraid of the what if. The bottom line is we don’t have the money to pay for the December premium with ObamaCare and Samaritan Ministries application fee and first months Share Amount.
Hi Paul, I’ve always been told that your membership can start as soon as Samaritan receives your full application (even if it isn’t fully processed yet). As long as you are meeting the qualifications for joining it should be no problem and a very quick process. I would suggest applying online to get the ball rolling even faster. 🙂 Let me be the first to say, welcome to Samaritan!
Thank you so much for these reviews. Our insurance will be cancelled again and I have now decided to enroll my family and I into one of these cost sharing programs. Based on your reviews, I am leaning toward Samaritan.
My question is: Is it possible to enroll in two of these simultaneously for increased security in getting covered? I am wondering about the feasibility of joining both Samaritan and Liberty simultaneously. Is this allowed? Is this an unreasonable thought?
Thank you for all of your helpful insight!
Hi Steve. Interesting question. I would think it’s possible, but joining two ministries could be rather complicated and I feel it unnecessary. I’m not sure how it would be determined who pays first. HCSMs are second payer to anything else that has a responsibility, but someone would need to be first eventually so I think it would create a conflict. It would effectively double your monthly cost also, and I don’t really see a benefit to it. The only thing Liberty offers that Samaritan doesn’t is the free checkup, as Samaritan’s sharing plans actually share for more issues and at higher levels. It would overshadow Liberty from a “coverage” aspect except for the well checks. You would then effectively be highly overpaying for the cost of a “free” physical by having both. Joining a ministry is initially a step out in faith until the first need is handled and we see how great it is. Initially I considered something similar, but in the form of a catastrophic insurance policy on top of Samaritan. I quickly realized it could also cause complications of “who pays” and Samaritan’s Save to Share was in place to handle those super high cost needs so it was an unnecessary expense. Thinking it all the way through as I type, I don’t recommend the double up in this case. Thanks for asking!
Thank you for your very helpful response. I will no longer consider joining two simultaneously.
While I feel more compelled to join Samaritan, I like how Liberty will provide an actual membership card that I can present and how they will automatically negotiate costs. It seems that this would eliminate many headaches. I would much prefer to not have to engage in negotiations.
I have a few weeks to decide which one to join. Your help is very appreciated!
I’m glad it was helpful! Samaritan also gives you a membership card. Liberty’s reimbursement rates appear to be fixed, the problem I’ve seen is that they set their reimbursements at a rate to match Medicare plus 50-70%. It’s not necessarily that they are pre arranged pricing with the facility. My concern is what happens if the hospital/doctor won’t accept that? It could mean the patient gets billed for the extra above that amount and if so could leave the member with a lot of unexpected bills. You’d want to confirm that before joining as it may be they are more flexible about it. Liberty also has an incident cap of $1 million. That could leave the top side exposed if there was a major cancer, heart issue or accident. Samaritan members are encouraged to get discounts, but some people are uncomfortable about it. There is help, we are not on our own, and generally people find it’s not nearly as hard as they expect. I wrote a couple of blog posts that may help with that concern. http://samaritanministriesreview.com/telling-doctor-you-are-cash-pay/ and http://samaritanministriesreview.com/karis-steps-in-to-help-get-bills-reduced/ Good luck with your decision! I know that my family couldn’t be happier with Samaritan and their member reviews are overwhelmingly positive. God bless!
edit: Samaritan also automatically negotiates costs (using Karis) on needs they feel they can obtain bigger discounts on. Anything above $1000 will be evaluated and negotiated if necessary.
My family and I are now officially new Samaritan members! Your help was big part of our research before joining. Thank you so very much!
Congratulations on your new membership, I’m so glad the site was helpful. I’m so glad to count you as a fellow member!
I am wondering where to look for financial information and trends in enrollment. I am trying to decide between joining Liberty or Samaritan and , having a financial background, would like to understand a little bit more about each of their financial operations. Thank you
Hi George. 🙂 The financial information can be found at guidestar.org which has both free and paid levels of information. For anything beyond that I would suggest contacting each ministry directly to see what they have available. Guidestar likely wouldn’t have enrollment trends, but it would have a snapshot of their financial records with the Form 990 that each ministry files annually.
I was able to get financials and an audited statement directly from Liberty. I have not looked into Samaritan.
Thank you for sharing this comparison. I would love any feedback on how these ministries work with families who have children with special needs. Our dd has Autism and right now we have her attending weekly sessions with a psychologist and she will be starting up Occupational Therapy once more. She also sees a chiro for wellness.
I can’t seem to find much and anything regarding preexisting is reffering to a medical condition. But i see nothing regarding neurological developemntal or similar disabilities like Autism, Down Syndrome, etc
Hello. To my knowledge, members who are active at birth and born with those disabilities qualify for sharing with Samaritan and the needs in question meet the guidelines (ie: some therapies have limits per need, medication 120 day limit, no sharing for checkups, etc). Being part of Save to Share would allow for sharing of needs above $250,000, something I assume could be needed in several cases. New members with disabilities are not turned away, no one is denied due to health reasons. Assuming you are not current members, I would imagine that any of her current therapies would be seen as pre-existing treatments and not sharable except as special prayer needs for the most part. A direct discussion with any ministry you are considering would probably be best, as there is a lot more going on in some conditions and each one may handle it differently. It’s logical that any active treatments/therapies/issues would be seen as pre-existing (or any within the specified timelines set forth by each ministry), but new events such as a broken bone or illness could likely be shareable. However I am only speculating as it isn’t something I’ve done much research on so I must defer to the experts at each ministry to provide the details, plus each person’s situation could be quite different from the next. I hope you are able to find the answers you seek, I wish I could have been more help.
I have attempted to find out more about Liberty’s policy on psychiatry and psychology coverage. They do not cover it or recognize it under any circumstances. Any medical issue that is caused by the brain or that is recognized as a psychiatric disorder is not recognized as a medical issue by Liberty. Medical professionals would disagree with this, but the people at Liberty do not think like medical professionals. They cover only physical injuries or pre-existing physical illnesses and charge extra per month for the pre-existing conditions. In my town they have one medical provider who is not highly rated.
Heather, first thank you so much for putting all this together! I’ve gotten so addicted to Amazon reviews that I can hardly buy anything anymore without reading real reviews from real people! It seems to be the best (and sometimes only) way to get the to the truth of a matter!
Anyway, someone else wrote about this earlier, but I wasn’t really satisfied with the answer. I live in New York City and if you have a doctor that you’ve been going to – then they would probably allow you to pay just a little bit and pay the rest later. But if you’re referred to a new doctor who has never seen you before – they won’t lift a finger until you’ve offered proof of insurance that they can verify to be convinced that they’ll get paid. If you don’t have insurance they demand that you pay the full amount up front or they won’t even talk to you. So if you go to this new doctor and it’s going to cost, say, $2,000 – they’re not going to see you unless you pay it all up front. They’re not going to listen to (or believe) some story about a ministry that’s going to pay it all in 3-4 months! They’ll just look at you a shake their heads and say, “I’m sorry, we’ve never heard of them and we can’t accept it. You’ll have to pay in cash – NOW!”
And the other thing is, if you have something that needs to be treated and you need to see two or three different doctors in a short period of time and pay for some tests on top of that (hundreds, if not low thousands of dollars), and all of these expenses are say around $500 each – they really will expect you to pay it in full before they do anything. Because in their minds you should be able to pay $500. They don’t realize you’re having a lot of other related expenses at the same time – and their $500 may be more like $3,000 in related expenses to you – that you have to pay all in a short period of time.
So that’s the only thing that’s holding me back from Samaritans. Other than that I very much like everything else I’ve read.
Hi Jonathan, my best suggestion would be to do a little homework and call around to various doctors in your area and see what kind of response you get. According to what I’m hearing from Samaritan the majority are not running into that problem once a discussion about how the ministry works has been had. In extreme situations Samaritan/Karis can also step in to help. You could be right that it’s more difficult in your area, but until you have the conversation its hard to know for sure, and I don’t think it’s impossible. I had the same concern before joining, but was only pleasantly surprised when I called around. I explained how Samaritan worked and they were great about it. Don’t forget, if it’s a true referral from your main doctor, they can also vouch for your payment abilities and smooth the way. It happens even in the insurance world for those with unmet huge deductibles. Hopefully if you’re paying a lot up front there’s also a big discount. A credit card or small savings account can be handy in those situations. You may also need to shop outside of NYC if inside the city is too difficult. Samaritan offers free access to medibid.com which is great at matching up patients and doctors for services and transparent (lower) pricing. I wish you the best in your research and hope you find the path less bumpy than you’re expecting. God bless!
Edit: I forgot to mention that if you call Samaritan they will give you a list of members in your area for you to call and see how it works for them. I find it very helpful as it gives a picture of what its like working with facilities where you live. Those members may also have recommendations on which places they like the best.
Its Tim again. I have another question. I am going to present this to my pastor this Sunday and I want to show him what he will need to sign. I have the pastor part of the original application that I can show him but I don’t have a submission form sample for him to see. Can I get one of these from the Samaritan website? Also, we go to a very large church with numerous pastors and leaders. Do the needs I submit need to be signed by the same pastor every time or can I use more than one pastor? (whoever might be available at the time)
The need submission form is not on the website. They send it out by mail or email once a need is started (I’ve never asked for a copy…my understanding is that it’s pretty simple, just a signature and maybe a couple of check boxes for the pastor, the rest is filled out by you to list each bill). They’re basically signing off that the need is yours (or your family) not someone else’s. It does not have to be the same person everytime, in fact it doesn’t even have to be the pastor. Can be a board member, deacon, or someone else to whom you’re accountable at the church. Just someone who can vouch for you. 🙂 If you call Samaritan they may be able to get you a watermarked sample of that form, but I think they’re closing pretty soon for the holiday so it might be next week. I always recommend calling them anyway, they’re so friendly and helpful. 🙂 I just love speaking with them.
Update: A pastor no longer needs to sign the need submission form whenever you submit a need. They only need to sign the application and annual renewal.
I currently have an ObamaCare policy and hate it for several reasons and am thinking about Samaritan. However, I have never been in a medical sharing ministry and have a lot of questions but I guess the main one is: How do I know which doctors and hospitals will accept Samaritan? And secondly, does Samaritan have a “preferred provider directory” of some sort?? I don’t want to give up my Obama policy only to find out the doctors and hospitals that accept Samaritan are limited.
Hi Tim, Samaritan is a ministry that has no network. You can see any doctor, anywhere. There are no restrictions. Samaritan doesn’t directly interact with the providers, health care is between member and doctor only. Since members are considered self pay the hospital doesn’t need to accept Samaritan, they just treat you, send you the bills, and take your payment. Depending on how much the treatment costs you would either pay cash up front (with a discount) or negotiate a payment plan (still with a discount) and then either way pay it all off when Samaritan shares come in. Usually its a turn around of 2-3 months after treatment happens (longer if hospital takes a while to send you the bills). Hospitals generally get paid slower with insurance and medicaid/medicare than they do with Samaritan members. Three of the 4 main ministries operate in this fashion (no network restrictions). The 4th, Medishare, does have a PPO type network. It’s not what we’re used to in the insurance world, but I greatly prefer having the freedom to choose any doctor I want. Insurance today offers a lot of waiting and wondering whether something will be approved, or crazy higher prices for going out of network. It’s not like that with Samaritan. My doctor doesn’t have to ask permission of anyone but me. No network, no restrictions, nothing but my approval. It takes a huge headache and frustration away when you don’t have to ask an insurance company if they consider the treatment acceptable. That freedom comes with a requirement of doing more legwork on your own to determine what treatment you actually want, getting pricing info to find good deals and coming to acceptable payment terms with the provider (usually not very hard, just different than we’re used to at first). Most providers already have cash pay policies, and upon learning you are cash pay with the backing of ministry you’ll probably find they are quite friendly and open to it. I always suggest calling around to your local docs and hospitals to learn what their cash policies are. What is the standard cash discount, what payment timelines do they offer, etc. I was happily surprised at the options in my local area. By their very nature networks are limited. That’s why I love Samaritan’s non-network method. My choice, my freedom, my decision. And Samaritan backs me up. 🙂 The only thing I need to get Samaritan approval on would be some of the alternative treatments, but they are pretty open to those, too (and insurance really never is ok with those).
Thank you for that answer. I understand what you are saying and I appreciate the fact that I can go to any doc I choose. But I guess my follow up question would be: what happens if you tell a hospital or surgeon that you are cash pay and they don’t want to go forward due to fear they wont get paid. Example: my wife had surgery last Oct. It was predetermined that she would need to stay 2 nights in hospital after surgery. The total hospital bill was approx. $7000 and we had to meet with the hospital prior to surgery and they figured out what we needed to pay up front per our insurance company. We had to pay approx. $1200 up front. What if we would have told them we were cash payers and they decided there was a good chance they were not going to get their $7000 out of a cash payer? Even after telling them you are ministry backed? Then what? And same goes for the surgeon. We had to meet with his ofc prior to surgery and pay an amt up front. What if they would have decided a cash pay patient for that much money is too much of a risk?
In a non-emergency situation that is possible (emergencies must be treated regardless). But I’m told by Samaritan it’s very rare for ministry members. Most places have reasonable policies for cash patients, including discounts and payment plans. It’s becoming common for everyone to pay something up front as you learned (so that $1200 may still apply), but not usually all of it (especially once they have ministry details), and then they have a set time limit for the rest (with or without interest). And if you were quoted $7000 back when you had insurance, the quote for cash pay would usually be less because of their cash discounts (which can often be substantial, 30-50% or more). Sometimes that means a conversation about the ministry, often that’s enough, but in extreme cases Samaritan/Karis would step in and generally an agreement can be reached. It’s unlikely they would assume a “good chance of non payment” once they know about the ministry. Of course anything is possible, but it’s highly unlikely with the right information, knowing about the ministry often makes all the difference. It’s also possible that the first person you’d speak with isn’t familiar enough with cash pay/ministry membership and you’d need to speak to the head of billing. Every location is a little different so I always recommend that people call around to their primary area doctors and hospitals to find out what those policies are (I don’t like surprises.) Sometimes it’s listed on their websites. Most medical care would be close to home so knowing how your local facilities work is helpful. With or without insurance there’s always potential for a hiccup, but I’m told the vast majority of members find it to be pretty smooth and Samaritan is there if we need help. Maybe the discount is so good, depending on the amount required, you could put it on a credit card, or get a small loan. It would be extremely short term because shares would start coming in 2-3 months later. Or maybe you find a different location. Some surgeons have privileges at multiple hospitals. You may even learn that they don’t take cash period, only insurance. There are also places that only take cash, no insurance. Unfortunately healthcare today is a bit upside down for everyone. I personally feel there are a lot fewer headaches by joining a ministry, but they can still happen. What I consider important are the resources available through Samaritan to get headaches solved. I called around to my area facilities and where I live the docs and hospitals all have self pay policies and none require everything up front. Some require a little, but not all (of the ones I called). All of them were very receptive to the ministry info and felt that I was not a payment risk since I had ministry backing. A nurse told me I was still protected, but in a better way. A billing person even took the info for her own family. From what I hear that positive reception is much more common than a negative one.
Thank for that answer. I think I am beginning to understand.
My last question is this: It seems to me that Samaritan would be more comparable to an insurance catastrophic policy (at least in my case). The reason I say this is because I am married with 3 children. Our monthly contribution would be $405. Then we would pay out of pocket for anything under $300 which with the kids and most of the time with my wife and I that is about 99% of our doc visits. In other words, 99% of our doc visits would be paid out of pocket. With 3 kids we go several times a year for various things. Recently took my 16 year old daughter to a derm for acne. Took my 12 year old son to doc 2 weeks ago for bad cold, which my youngest also got and had to take her as well. None of those were over $300, so under Samaritan we would have paid it all out of pocket. I can’t think of any doc visit any of us have had this year that was over $300. And then if we do have one that is over $300, we would still have to pay the first 3 ourselves, which is another $900 out of pocket.
In other words, I would pay $405/mth to be covered if something really bad were to happen and then just pay most everything else out of pocket, but at least I’m covered if something bad does happen.
So I can see where if you had a bad event, like my wife’s surgery last Oct, then it would be beneficial. But am just not seeing how it’s that beneficial to me and my family under our regular circumstances.
Can you help me understand that?
My memory of the true catastrophic insurance plans was that they were for events much bigger than $300. Those plans had deductibles in the thousands, or didn’t kick in until big thousands were reached. Unfortunately many ACA plans now mimic that high deductible plus now a high premium, in exchange for a free checkup. Even some of those have pretty high copays for office visits. That free checkup is costing people many thousands per year. What you describe is accurate, those things under $300 you would cover yourself with Samaritan sharing anything qualifying above $300. Those things should be budgeted for, hopefully with a small savings account. I don’t know what your deductible is now, ours would be over $12,000 on insurance so $300 per need (wiped to $0 if we get enough discounts) is peanuts in comparison. Even paying for our own checkups and other small visits we still save thousands. For the events you described, most people would have still paid something out of pocket even with insurance. Comparing what you paid to what they offer for cash visits could be useful. Then put the two situations on a spreadsheet. Compare the last year as if you had Samaritan vs if you had insurance; include premiums vs shares, out of pockets you had, etc. That would tell you if there are any cost savings. We also factored the benefits beyond money, such as doctor flexibility, not contributing to unhealthy choices, and the support of like minded Christians. Looking ahead to 2017 we are projected to save about $1000/month between Samaritan and the bronze plan being offered. We would NOT spend $12,000 a year in checkups and sinus infections. 🙂 And if we had a medium size event, say a kidney stone, then we’re out another $5500 OOP on insurance, too ($12k+ deductible) vs $300 OOP or less with Samaritan. The numbers are not the same for every family, so we all have to put pencil to paper to see what works for us. In our case it was a no brainer financially and a big morale boost spiritually. Samaritan operates the way health insurance used to be. People paid for the little things themselves and only had insurance for bigger hospital related issues. We get a chance to become healthcare consumers again instead of paying whatever inflated rate they give us. It’s not for everyone, but with insurance premiums and deductibles creeping into the stratosphere, many are switching and finding that they pay a lot in premiums to get a free checkup. They find out they’d be better off paying for the checkup and saving big on the premiums. But each family must determine that for themselves because we all have differing scenarios and needs. I hope that helps a little. 🙂
I read your comment again and thought I should expand on a couple things. The $300 portion applies to the total need. So little bills adding up to $300 for the same need still count for sharing. The little one-off visits under $300 are on our own. But if you go in for a sinus infection and have to keep going in, or keep getting meds all for the same need, that can go over $300 and then you can submit it to Samaritan. Even though it’s lots of little bills, if the total crosses $300 it’s shareable. And any discounts you got reduce your portion, so it could be fully shared. A one time visit for a cold likely wouldn’t reach $300, but other situations can, and they don’t have to be catastrophic to do it. Doctor visit, meds, labs, all that can add up to over $300. If the little one-off situations become a burden even with budgeting, then you are allowed to group them (must be under a year old) and submit them as a special prayer need. Most people find that with budgeting, premium savings, and cash discounts they can handle it, but sometimes its needed if you have a lot of them. A broken bone is instantly over $300 with ERs and xrays, Samaritan would share that. It doesn’t have to be a major surgery for Samaritan to step in. Unfortunately a lot of things can go over that $300 mark these days and any reducing discounts you get reduce your portion first. On insurance a lot of those would just apply to the deductible and be out of pocket anyway. Samaritan starts sharing much earlier than the high deductible does. Hope that helps with your comparisons also. 🙂
I am interested n the Liberty Plan but am skeptical about their ability to pay if something happens and we end up with $100,000’s in medical bills. Does anyone have experience with this healthshare that has had large medical bills- what was your experience, and does anyone know where I can find some financials on them?
Please type in Liberty Healthshare on Google. You will find many reviews, mostly negative. I was with the plan but dropped them. They only have about 28,000 members and the customer service is horrible. LH also has several complaints on their own FB page. Check it out.
Hi Carol, I googled Liberty HealthShare and can’t find anything negative except for 5 or 8 (I forgot the number) of complaints through BBB. Looks like Liberty HealthShare has turned off their FB visitor posts section so there’s nothing posted there and there are no negative posts under their general posts. I’m guessing things may have changed? And for the better? I would love more info. The rep I spoke to today said they had something like 20,000 new members sign up in the month of December (2016) – So I think that means their membership is up to 50,000+
Your statement about Liberty Healthshare being accepting of non-traditional marriages, is false. Their 2016 guidelines define marriage as one man and one woman.
They may have updated their policies since this blog was started. Reports from other people looking at Liberty state they were told by Liberty reps that non traditional marriage is accepted. More recently they also heard a variation on it that non traditional couples are accepted as two single memberships (apparently that means acceptance of the lifestyle). I haven’t spoken to Liberty directly, information on that topic is from others who have called and reported back. It makes me think they allow the 2 singles membership as a workaround for what is stated in the guidelines. But I don’t know for sure, anyone interested in Liberty should contact them directly. Perhaps the reps who gave the information previously were misinformed.
BEWARE OF LHS
If you are looking for a decent organization that is competent and helpful LOOK ELSEWHERE.
I have spent 6 months after joining this so called HEALTHSHARE simply trying to get them to process our bills. I’ve sent the same medical records FOUR times (emailing directly to employees at LHS) only to receive multiple letters requesting the SAME documentation I had already sent so many times.
After 4 months of this back and forth and repeatedly being told “we apologize for the inconvenience, we apologize for the inconvenience” they’ve now denied every bill submitted leaving me with tens of thousands in medical bills that I assumed I was covered for.
Mind you there was ZERO communication for four months that these were not covered. ZERO explanation. Only my persistence in calling and requesting supervisors (where I was again told that they apologize for the inconvenience) got me to this answer. At one point I was told that I needed to speak with Leslie Brunk and that she would call me back in ten minute. No call back came from Leslie whom I then had to track down only to be told… “I do apologize”.
This organization needs to understand that apologies do not make up for terrible service and mistakes. Multiple mistakes can not be remedied with “I’m sorry”. It is patronizing and inhuman.
I may as well be on the phone with robots reading from a computer screen. This is worse that having a general insurance carrier such as Aetna where you are only a number. This claims to be a Christian organization, however there is nothing Christian about their system. Shame on them for touting themselves under that guise.
Fortunately for us we have several attorneys in the family and so will be filing lawsuit for misrepresentation and failure to provide service. I simply feel sorry for those who are taken advantage of by LHS and do not have the resources to do so.
Shame on this organization. Beware!
Amy – I am with LHS and feel blessed we have had no major medical incidents. Are you willing to share which Health Ministry you switched to? Are you happy with them? I’ve only had two Dr visits to send to LHS in our 8 months with them so far – one for my annual exam and it took multiple phone calls and quite an interesting process to get them to pay it in full. I’ve started having a few concerns about the process, the time it takes on my end to repeatedly contact them and their communication etc. Thanks for sharing and let us know if you found a health ministry that is working for you . . .
Melissa – are you still with Liberty Healthshare? What did you try to get reimbursed and why did it take so long? I spoke with a rep today and he said you’re reimbursed within 30 days.
I would love more info, im looking into Liberty and am scared they will not cover our claims. Is everything you said true, did they cover any of your claims? Thanks
Amy — if you don’t mind sharing, what were you trying to get reimbursed? Was it a pre-existing condition or elective surgery?
If anyone wants to look at Liberty Healthshares form 990 tax returns, they can be seen here free:
The latest available is 2013 for some reason. Looks really small. And the employees including the president don’t seem to receive much compensation.
You said Libery Share would be your third choice, what would be your first two?
Hi Jim. We joined Samaritan Ministries, that was our first choice and what most of this site is about. Our second choice was CHM (Christian Healthcare Ministries). There are comparisons to them all at http://samaritanministriesreview.com/compare-to-other-ministries/
Hello, thanks for the research! I was trying to find a comparison on the different cost share programs. These two (Samaritan vs Liberty) seemed possibilities for me and others. I’d like to hear your opinion on a twist to the Liberty Cost Share Programs. It’s called “Liberty Direct” (http://www.libertydirect.org). My take is The “Liberty Direct” Program includes all of the features of the Liberty Complete program, PLUS additional features like nutritional supplement reimbursement and payment toward a direct primary care monthly fee….for the same price as Liberty Complete? I’d appreciate your thoughts…you seem to have more experience than I do with these cost share programs. God Bless.
Hi John. Thanks for asking, I had not heard of Liberty Direct yet. I did some research and the big difference between the two is the addition of covering a membership fee to a direct primary care doctor. There’s a list on their site showing which doctors are part of that arrangement, it’s not a big list yet, but I imagine it could grow. So by joining Liberty Direct AND using a doctor who has a membership fee, Liberty will then pay that membership for you. If you use a doctor not on that list then you just pay for your visits as usual. There’s not much difference if you don’t live by or use a Direct Care doc on the list. The only other added benefit I could see was the sharing of some supplement costs. That’s my 30,000 foot overview. It seems to be geared toward those who want to use a doctor that has a Direct Care practice that requires a membership fee. I don’t entirely understand why they would create a separate program for it, why not just add it as features of Liberty Complete since the monthly share is the same. I’m guessing it has something to do with their doctor agreements, but I’m truly not sure. Hope that helps a little.
I am a Direct Primary Care Physician so I must admit I am a bit biased, but if you look into the model I think you will be very pleased with it. For instance I am in the Indianapolis area, and for $1200 dollars a year ( or 110 a month on a monthly plan) you get unlimited visits, routine labs ever 3 months as needed, nutritional consult, and wellness visit all for same price no copays; no nothing extra. AND liberty pays $60 dollars of it so for 40-50 bucks a month you’re covered in Primary Care for the whole year!
My family is going to try LHS just because Samaritans does not pay for wellness visits. shame on them that is the foundation or healthcare- Prevention. We’ll see if there is any other ministry that gives wellness visits someone feel free to tell us. Dr. BB
Hello Dr. BB, thanks for writing. I like the idea of Direct Primary Care practices. I think it’s something that the healthcare industry should have a lot more of! 🙂 For those who have close access to it that can be a great thing. Unfortunately there aren’t enough of them yet so many cannot take advantage. You have my admiration for being part of the solution. I agree that prevention and checkups are important. Samaritan and the other ministries leave it up to the members to determine when and where they get those done, and as part of their foundation in Christ their method for managing costs follows a Biblical approach “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2) yet cover those smaller checkup expenses themselves…”for each one should carry their own load” (Galatians 6:5). Samaritan does allow sharing for a checkup if something is discovered during that visit, as it then turns into a qualifying need (such as a routine colonoscopy where polyps are found, that cost becomes shareable). I don’t think there is a perfect solution this side of Heaven, but we felt this approach best fit our family. (I assumed any doctors who are members probably did their family’s own checkups and minor medical care, perhaps I am wrong there. 🙂 ) It’s great that all the ministries exist as they are about 80% similar, with the other 20% leading people to figure out which works best for them. God bless you in your healing work, Doctor.
With Liberty, one big issue to consider is that they do not cover mental health. Not even in a crisis situation. Hopefully, you do not experience a traumatic event. Mental health and physical health are linked. Do Christians really place such a stigma against mental health? If so, they will be paying out far more for the physical problems that accompany a traumatic incident, rather than paying for the mental health issues that are of lower cost. Covering mental health always has a positive impact on physical health.
Another issue is that they will cover obesity which is generally very much a mental health issue and also due to a lack of self discipline. Yet, Liberty considers it purely a physical issue. This is enormously expensive to treat in many cases. Many people gain the weight back anyway from what I have seen. Mental health is a necessary component in treating this issue.
I have a low but normal BMI and I am physically active, but I experienced an extremely traumatic event recently which has affected my physical health. Seeing a therapist along with treating the physical ailments would be less expensive than ignoring the mental aspects that go along with that. I guess I’ll be getting expensive ER treatments instead of seeing regular doctors along with mental health therapy.
Has anyone else encountered problems with physical issues resulting from experiencing traumatic events? I seem to be alone on this board on this. No responses?
Hi Charlotte. I’m sorry to hear about your struggles. I don’t have any related experience to share. I pray you are able to get the help you need. I read your earlier comment again and wondered if you had tried speaking with your pastor about what you have experienced. Perhaps that would be a good way to get additional assistance to work through what happened to you. God bless you as you walk this journey.
No, I would prefer to speak to a trained psychiatrist or psychologist. A pastor is not going to help me much as he does not have the qualifications. There is a time when it is necessary to speak to a professional. I wouldn’t ask a pastor to do a medical procedure on me. I wouldn’t ask a pastor to provide me with mental health. A pastor can preach and that is what he does. Preach the bible, it’s not the same as a mental health professional.
Hello!! I am single 61 man presently paying out of pocket private insurance at $520 monthly. I am considering both of these plans to replace the plan I have now. I dont know how many doctors or hospitals would accept less than medicaid payments. My question is also,if I switch to one of these plans,would it be difficult to go back to BCBS for instance–if I chose to later? It sounds like Samaritan—of the two is the best choice–correct? Thank you!!
Hi Ran. Getting back on BCBS isn’t difficult, other than you have to wait for open enrollment again, which is now typically Nov 1-Jan 31. Samaritan is the best choice for our family, we didn’t want a cap (joining Samaritan’s Save to Share means no incident caps, they already have no lifetime caps) and we didn’t want to potentially be balance billed since Liberty pays medicare + 60%… I agree that it may not be acceptable to some hospitals and doctors, thus leaving us potentially with a big bill out of pocket. Not always the case, but the potential was a concern for us. BCBS is happy to get customers back. Hopefully you will enjoy the experience of a health care sharing ministry so much that you never want to go back to insurance, but it’s smart to know what your options are. 🙂 Good luck with your research and God bless!
Something interesting you post here which I will have to check on, is I don’t think you can only go to places that accept medicare. My understanding from speaking with the rep is that you can go anywhere you’d like. Sometimes I would call Liberty beforehand to confirm that they’ll pay if I’m uncertain (as far as the procedure), but that I can go anywhere and they’ll pay 100% (assuming I’m on that 100% plan and my $500 out of pocket has been met). I think the idea is that I give my Liberty card to the doctor and ask them to bill Liberty directly. If the dr doesnt’ want to do that, I can negotiate / ask for cash pay, pay out of pocket, then submit my bill and get reimbursed in 30 days. In a perfect world that is…. I may call back again to speak wiht a manager, but I don’t know how else I can check that that is correct. Also, as a side note, sometimes there are many comments on your blog and then it’s hard to read the reply as your blog makes boxes smaller and smaller and then your reply is cut off (as was the case of your reply to my last note about samaritan. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to fully read what you wrote)
Yes, you probably can go anywhere you like, but Liberty’s policy is that they’ll pay whatever the medicare rate is, likely whether that place accepts medicare or not. And not everyone qualifies for medicare, but medicare pricing applies anyway. Unless they’ve changed it, that’s how they determine their payment amounts. Medicare + 60%. So if the place doesn’t even accept medicare (or the patient is too young to qualify), and charges $10,000 for something that medicare would typically only reimburse $1500 for… then Liberty would still pay $1500 + $900. That’s $2400 and the hospital may bill you the remaining $7600 because medicare rates don’t reimburse enough and they want their full $10,000 (or at least something more than $2400). That’s really a worst case scenario, but entirely possible unless Liberty has become more flexible with their reimbursement amounts. The hospital may also write off that $7600. Let’s hope it’s that one. 🙂 My understanding is that it wasn’t based on whether the location accepted medicare or if the patient qualified, it was a way to cap payment amounts across the board. It’s something those considering Liberty should ask about.
One quick note on Liberty. My wife and I are shopping around for a Christian healthcare plan. We have a 1-year-old daughter and twins on the way. We know that, over the next several years, our kids are going to receive lots of immunizations.
From my research thus far, it looks like Liberty may be the only organization who covers immunizations, and some of those immunizations can get QUITE expensive, so that will definitely be a factor in our decision. If anyone else has done any research on this matter than can confirm/refute this, I’d sure love to hear it. Thanks for your information!
Immunizations through the clinic during a checkup are crazy expensive. Many health care sharing ministry members will instead go through their local immunization clinics or county health clinics to get those immunizations for free or extremely cheap. Years ago when our kids were tiny our insurance didn’t cover those shots, so we used those “free” clinics long before we’d even heard about Samaritan or health care sharing. We paid a $25 donation and both kids got all their shots. It was pretty easy. When they need their next rounds this summer we will do the same thing. While you are researching, ask your local clinic if such a thing is available in your area and where/when it’s available. We were pleasantly surprised at what was available for those who don’t have coverage through insurance.
You need to do your homework on immunizations. I did EXHAUSTIVE research and I believe that any rational person who does will l choose NOT to immunize their children. Plus if you are a Christian do you trust the Lord to design your child’s immune system or not? Start here – https://thepeopleschemist.com/reasons-dont-vaccinate-children-vaccine-supporters-shouldnt-give/ and here http://healthimpactnews.com/2013/dr-kurt-why-i-will-never-choose-to-vaccinate-my-own-son-and-any-future-kids-my-wife-and-i-have/. We have three kids 18. 16 and 11 and they have NEVER had a shot – healthiest kids around!
“Plus if you are a Christian do you trust the Lord to design your child’s immune system or not?”
If you throw yourself off a cliff do you trust God’s angels to save you? In my view, diseases are physical conditions. God has told man how to prevent and treat them. Not using that information is essentially throwing your kid off a cliff and trusting God to save them.
I am very glad I did not have to live before immunizations.
Jim, Thank you for saying that. I am an oncologist who has done mission work in developing nations. People in the US who do not immunize are blessed because the vast majority do get immunized and the benefit from “herd immunity” which is a lower level of infectious agents in the group because most are immunized. If the number of people immunized drops below a threshhold, there will be an increase in disease among the unvaccinated. You only have to see one polio case in your life to know the benefits of vaccination far outweigh the risks. You only have to watch one man die of tetenus (or lockjaw as it used to be called) to know the wisdom of vaccination. We are often told by well meaning people to trust the Holy Spirit. It occurred to me that by that definition we are not using the information God has entrusted us, and we are as you so eloquently stated, tempting the Lord, which we are not supposed to do. Please everyone get your kids vaccinated. The data is is there. Smallpox is a distant memory since vaccination wiped it from the earth.
Why would you consider getting vaccinations for your small children? I can’t imagine willingly injecting toxic substances into little children. I would suggest you do some research on the link between all sorts of potential health problems that are linked to toxic materials in the vaccinations. In spite of the Governments and Big Pharmas coverup to the problems associated with vaccinations, people who look into it are waking up to the dangers. Besides, an infants immune system is too young to have any positive reaction to a vaccination. Say no to mercury and many other toxins.
Nevermind the fact that Scott is probably alive today due to vaccinations.
Looks llke Samaritan might be the best choice with liberty coming is second. However, although a Christian, I do not attend church regularly, and resent a quota put on membership. Very Closed minded and controlling. One of the reasons I do not attend.
Looks like I will have to look into Liberty.
Yep. They are very close minded. Samaritan that is. We believe in God and do everything Samaritan believes and is listed on their Faith Statement. But because we do not believe in the Trinity faith, they won’t accept us. Trinity is not even in the Bible. They serve 3 Gods? Ours must be much more powerful than theirs, because we serve ONE God in the Apostolic faith. Sounds discriminatory to me. I’m surprised the same-sex marriage people haven’t brought it to the government’s attention that they aren’t accepted by this group either? Ummmmmm…..
I’m sorry to hear that Samaritan didn’t work out for you. Each ministry is set up a little different in their requirements so if one doesn’t work, perhaps another one will. I wish you the best in your research. God bless!
You might want to revisit Genesis where it states “let US make man in our image”; you can’t escape the that. Also, what do you do with Jesus baptism, the Trinity is clearly there. God in 3 persons, not 3 gods; big difference. To deny the doctrine of the trinity is very dangerous to your soul. At Jesus baptism, there is the clearest picture of the Trinity and then you have John 17. what will you do with Jesus statement that the Father and I are one? or in reply to the disciples, “if you have seem Me, then you have seen the Father”. The trinity is not in Scripture by the word Trinity, but it is clearly there unless one picks and chooses, which many do to their own detriment.
Kathy, you say the word Trinity is not in the bible. True. But it is implied many places where Father, Son and Holy Spirit are used. 1 God, 3 persons. Not fully understandable for any human. But there is not a list of books that are to be contained in the bible either so why do we trust that? Just because something is not in the bible to not make it false. St. John even said Jesus did many things that “are not contained in these writings”.
Father, Son( Jesus) and Holy Spirit is what the New testament witnesses. That is what belief in Jesus Christ teaches: God , the father, took on human form in Jesus Christ and sent his spirit( Holy Spirite) to continue to guide his disciples( followers). This is not three Gods, it is one God revealing himself in the manner he chose to reveal himself.
Same sex marriage is not marriage , certainly not God’s will for MAN>
Health sharing is not insurance and therefore not governed (regulated.). It is like joining a club, which sets its rules governing who can join.
If you do not like the rules of the club, why join?
Quick question in regards to how much of the delivery expenses LHS will cover. I know one must be a member before becoming pregnant in order to have medical expenses shared. My wife and I just had a baby (through her insurance which will be expiring soon), and we are wanting to have another one but we understand she needs to be covered by LHS before we conceive? I guess my main concern is that this last delivery was $33,000 before insurance kicked in. For a “normal” delivery at a hospital with an epidural, how much of the costs will liberty health share cover? Any insight would be greatly appreciated.
With Liberty you have an annual unshared amount of $500 for singles, or $1500 for a family (with a birth I don’t know which number they would impose), and then their page https://libertyhealthshare.org/how-reimbursement-works states that payouts to your providers for inpatient services are Medicare rate plus 60%. The risk is whether or not the provider will accept that amount (medicare is not popular with providers because it pays so little). If they don’t they you could be balance billed the difference. It’s also difficult to know what the medicare rate is. Given how vague that is I would suggest giving Liberty a call to see if they can solidify any numbers for you.
It’s easier to know with Samaritan. For instance you’d have a $300 personal responsibility amount, and then they share the rest if pregnancy began after membership (even just a day after). If you get at least $300 in discounts then Samaritan even shares that portion (leaving your out of pocket at $0). Hopefully the hospital gives a cash pay discount, but either way Samaritan would share the charges. Samaritan is VERY baby friendly. God bless you as you choose the best solution for your family, and congratulations on your new baby!
Can you explain that again please? Are you saying that if I negotiate a discount, for example, I tell them I am self pay and they give me a discount greater than $300, then I no longer have the personal responsibility of $300? That Samaritian would share the entire bill? Example: I recently had a child swallow a nail, go to the emergency room and have it removed with a scope. Our bill was $18,000. If I was a member on a family plan, and I got them to reduce the fee to $15,000 (generating a $3,000 savings), I would not have to pay the family responsibility of $1,500? The entire $15,000 balance would be shared?
Hi Garrett. You are correct. Samaritan has a $300 personal responsibility per need. The $1500 number you’re thinking of is for Liberty only. So with Samaritan, your $18,000 bill for swallowing the nail (OUCH!) that you got reduced to $15,000, Samaritan would share the entire $15,000, yes. If the bill had stayed $18,000 then you would owe $300, and Samaritan would share $17,700. Actually, on something that high, Samaritan would probably try to get even further discounts, they’re avg discount obtained is about 45%. We had a surgical need recently which was discounted by 50% for being cash pay. Because the discount was at least $300, Samaritan shared the entire thing, and we received 100% of the funding to pay for it 2 months after the surgery happened. I admit, it is shocking at first to find out that Samaritan will share so much of the charges. The trade off is that we are responsible for all our preventative checkups and any medical that is under $300. But we are saving so much per month with the cheaper monthly rate, that even paying for my own physical each year we still save thousands. Samaritan even has neat online features where we can get nurse and doctor help lines to help with those questions like “does my son have a cold or the flu and what do I do about it?” This site has a ton of additional information about Samaritan if you’re interested in how it works. It’s all pretty simple and straightforward. Feel free to ask as you come up with questions. I also encourage people to speak directly with Samaritan because they’re so friendly and supportive. God bless!
Thank you so much for all the work you put into this site. I know that technically it is not a separate ministry since it is part of Samaritan, but have you thought about writing something about CMF Curio?
I looked into once or twice about a year ago, but to be honest I don’t fully understand it yet and my schedule hasn’t allowed me time to really dig deep. It seems to be geared toward Catholics, and since it is so closely aligned with Samaritan it seems like a natural choice for a Catholic who isn’t comfortable with Samaritan’s faith statement yet still wants some of the elements that Samaritan offers.
I don’t think CMF is doing a good job of explaining why it is different. If you read their information packet, it’s clear that there are some added benefits that aren’t very clear on the website. Whether the extra benefits are worth the extra money is a personal decision.
Thanks for all this info and for everyone’s comments. I’m just getting started looking at these plans but it gives me a breath of fresh air! Several years ago I was dropped from my insurance because of no longer enough employees for group. Rates were going to $3000 mo. anyways so turns out I was lucky because the state would now pick me up with HIRSP. It was great, reasonable, great discounting and then ACA. Now up to $1300 mo. plus $6000 out of pocket before anything kicks in!
After paying premiums to Liberty Health Share for seven months, I submitted bills for my yearly physical, a mammogram and a cortisone shot in my thumb. I assumed the physical and mammogram would be paid. Nothing was paid! I think they are a big scam praying on Christians due to Obamacare.
Don’t you have to pay a $500.00 deductible first? Maybe that is why those bills were not paid.
I paid the full bill before I submitted them.
Susan, was your bill was under $500, and your first claim?
I just started with Liberty Health Share. It has been difficult to get a call back or talk to someone about finding a doctor in my area that may be familiar with them. Also, my Cholesterol is borderline and so I was placed into the health track system which means I am supposed to have a coach to help me. I pay $80 extra for this. I have paid for the first two months of 2016 I have called 3-4 times and still haven’t been contacted by a life coach. This is certainly a concern.
Hi Susan. My husband and I are seriously considering Liberty and doing our due diligent research. After reading your post I am concerned about Liberty’s failure to share the expenses you mentioned, which I am guessing added to more than the $500 out of pocket contribution. Will you please bring me up to date as to whether any of these bills were ever paid by the sharing method?
They never paid the bills so I finally cancelled.
I thought Liberty website and the comparison chart said one wellness visit per year and a mammogram where covered. That’s concerning if they didn’t cover it when it should be per their policy even if it’s under $500. It didn’t say covered as long as you have met you $500 out of pocket.
Hi Susan, can you share more information on this? Did you call the customer service to see what the story was with them paying? And why they didn’t pay? Did they need to be submitted a different way? This sounds like a lawsuit… would love more info.
Why is the application fee so expensive, when other ministries do not have an application fee?
Hi Abigail. Application fees goes toward administrative costs from what I understand. Actually most ministries do have those fees, of the ones I reviewed CHM is the only one who doesn’t (unless you join Brothers Keeper, which is $40/yr). Liberty calls it a first year membership fee (it’s $125, and then it’s a $75 annual fee after that), Medishare and Samaritan both have application fees and they’re pretty close when you add up all of Medishare’s ($175 vs $200). No ministry is the same and they recover their administrative costs in different ways. Some have annual fees, or application fees, or other miscellaneous fees. Some have varying combinations of each, perhaps under different names. Some have higher monthly share prices, but “cover” fewer medical needs and allow for more of the monthly share to go to admin expenses instead of medical sharing. Each one is a little different and we need to find the one that best fits our own family. Samaritan worked the best for us because the fees were up front, and less ongoing to deal with (annual fees kinda bug me). We do pay a $15/yr fee to be part of Save to Share but I decided it was worth it to our family for the incredible gain/security we get from that program. No one likes fees, I’m with you there, but I also know that maintaining a staff and facilities has a cost and I think all the ministries work pretty hard to keep those costs reasonable. I also like that no one gets a multi-million dollar salary like insurance company CEO’s do. Making the decision of which one to join should include the total package; monthly costs, what is shared vs not shared, sharing limits vs no limits, upfront and annual fees, payment timelines and methods. Hopefully this site will help you organize the information so you can make an informed choice. Best of luck as you research and Merry Christmas! 🙂
Trying to make decision myself and so far Samaritan, for myself and my principles, is leading the way. BTW, as others have attested, you have offered a wealth of info at one website and the comparisons are very fair based on website research. Thank you for the time and effort you have put into this. My question: How many different needs are you required to address each month? Mostly curious as to the time that is required for the person sending their portion to cover for that particular month. IE: If your payable monthly is $180, is there a chance you will receive 6 different requests at $30 each? Or 9 at $20? or 2 at $90? Thank you for your response in advance
Hi Pam. It’s always just one payment to one person, so if you’re sharing $180 each month as a single, you send $180 to just one person with one need. It’s never split up. If you’re a family sending $405, you’d send $405 to one person. On your anniversary signup month that payment of $180 goes to the main office instead of to a member. The other 11 months are all to a single member.
Now, the suggested Special Prayer Need listed on the bottom your share slip, which is optional, that will be a someone different than your main need assignment. Those are optional (but I highly recommend it), and those are different people and different needs than your regular assigned need. The special prayer needs are the ones that aren’t part of regular sharing.
Thank you for doing such an incredible job in service to your fellow man. This website is so very informative, pulling together information that would take me weeks, if not months, to collect.
You state above that your pastor must sign the medical need form for any shareable need. Two questions:
1) We are part of a very large faith community and it is sometimes difficult to get to the pastor himself. Can a deacon, business manager or some other parish employee sign in lieu of the pastor, or must it be the pastor?
2) Do you know if any of the other HCSM’s also have this requirement?
Blessings to you for all you do!
Hi Jim. The signature must come from someone to whom you are accountable. The application form has options for “pastor”, “church officer”, or “person to whom you are accountable” and then an explanation of that relationship.
I think the medical need form has the same boxes.(A pastor is no longer required to sign the need submission form, only the application and renewal forms each year.) So I would say yes, a deacon, etc would be acceptable. they would likely need to be a church leader of some sort, but Samaritan could confirm that for sure. It sounds like CHM maybe used to require it, but I’m now told they do not. I don’t know for sure about Medi-share or Liberty’s requirements for a signature, although I’m thinking they don’t since the bills are submitted by the facility and not members in those cases.
Thank you so much for your kind words, it did take me months to pull it together. 🙂 Two months of research initially, but I work on updates and responses for the site almost daily. I feel very strongly that these ministries are such a great solution, and their foundation in Christ soothes my soul. I believe strongly in Samaritan’s mission and want to help others find their way to it, if it’s a good fit for them. I’m so glad you find it helpful! God bless and Merry Christmas!
I find this blog very interesting.
I dislike the fact that we who are called to lead these Health Care Sharing Ministries engage in any form of conflict that would show others that we are in competition with each other or have negative things to say about each other. It’s as if we intentionally separate ourselves in ministry instead of working together as we should to share the gospel to others as we are called to, even in this ministry of caring for one another through sharing in medical needs submitted by members.
Altrua HealthShare is one of the recognized Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSN) and our mission is to reach this nation together with the other HCSM”s in showing the love of Christ to others by offering our members a ministry that each member can share in one another’s medical needs. Altrua HealthShare operates differently than any of the other HCSM’s but shares the same mission according to Galatians 6:2.
Altrua HealthShare is not religious based but is faith based. You do not have to be of one faith to become a member. We operate our program with a Statement of Standards, not a Statement of Faith which means that all walks of faith can become a member as long as they can honor the Statement of Standards which are biblical based.
Altrua HealthShare offers 6 different membership types which can be found at http://www.altruahealthshare.org or by calling 888-244-3839. You can also email firstname.lastname@example.org to request an Informational Booklet.
Thanks for writing. I took another look at the Altrua website and I’m pleased to see there is a lot more information added now about your ministry and what you offer. Perhaps someday I will be able to do a comparison page with Altrua, too. 🙂 I’m not sure what you mean about negativity and conflict, if you are referring to this blog I am not a leader, merely a member who did a LOT of research. 🙂 The purpose of this blog is to share my research and experience with Samaritan Ministries and compare it to the other health care sharing ministries I have examined and considered. While it’s true the various ministries share a similar goal at the core, they are not the same in method or fundamentals, and comparing and contrasting those similarities and differences allows everyone to more easily get the information they need and help them make the right choice for their family. I don’t see it as a negative or a conflict, merely informational. The fact that several ministry options exist and are growing indicates that each has something to offer and each person must figure out where they best fit. The ministries are of a common theme with different flavors and blessedly they all fill a very real need for those who join. I hope to get more time to examine Altrua further. God bless.
Thanks to the Administrator. As one considering a move from health insurance to Health Care Sharing, your comparisons and information is very helpful!
Thanks so much for all the great info! I have a question on the higher limits of the different programs. Liberty has a 1M limit but Samaritan and CHM has no limit. I saw on a different website that Samaritan and CHM had never paid over 7 or 8 hundred thousand on a claim. It seems like a serious disease could could exceed those 800,000 pretty quickly, so Im wondering if the Save to Share or Brothers Keeper claims are always paid or if maybe it becomes subjective.
Samaritan’s highest need to date on Save to Share is $1.5 million. It was a heart issue I think. The hospitals discounted the bills down to $700,000ish and it was fully shared. Bad accidents, cancers, heart issues, etc can all get above $1 million without too much difficulty today, but most bills don’t stay that high after cash pay discounts, although they can, especially if it crosses $2-3 million to begin with. I know that every Save to Share need has been fully shared. I remember reading that CHM has also met all of their Brother’s Keepers shareable needs. It’s not subjective. If it meets the guidelines and you’re a member of one of those higher level programs it will be shared. The good news is that never having paid more than $700-800k for a need isn’t because the ministries decided to stop arbitrarily, it’s because that’s all that was needed to pay it in full. 🙂 There are millions of dollars waiting in Samaritan member savings accounts to share those giant needs. For the money required of us (very low) being part of either Save to Share or Brother’s Keeper is definitely recommended. Samaritan’s no limit feature was very important to our family because you just never know. I wanted to be sure we weren’t leaving the higher levels unprotected. 🙂 Thanks for asking!
I am a liberty member and was concerned with the report about SAME SEX MARRIAGE. He is a copy and paste from their regs…
means the spiritual and legal union o
f one man and one woman
under the covenant
of matrimony and the laws of the state.
You would need to call them for their latest position. Other members and prospective members who have called about it reported they were told that same sex unions were allowed. I had to take their word for it. If you are concerned please call them as they may have updated their information.
My husband is a physician. Ironically we cannot afford the ACA’s effect on what used to be an excellent combination of an HSA and catastrophic insurance. Our premiums tripled overnight. We really like the philosophical statements of Liberty because they espouse healthy choices and Christian love and acceptance of all members of society without the judgmental quality of some of the others–programs that have a right to choose to who can be a member of their community of course, just not my cup of tea as I tend to follow the loving Christ who often separated himself from the judging parts of the OT….
I am considering leaving traditional insurance for a medical health sharing plan for our family as our premiums that were already outrageous has skyrocked to greater than $1100 month for a family of 4. I am really scared about leaving traditional insurance because I don’t really understand the health sharing fully. I currently attend church on a regular basis but am not a member of that church and hold membership at another church that I do not attend. Do you have to be a member of a church to participate in the health plan? Also I am not sure if the minister of the church I have been attending for past year and half would be burdened with signing off on my medical needs.
I understand your concern over the newness of changing away from traditional insurance. We are programmed to think insurance is the only option. It took a bit of soul searching and a mindset change for me to get out of my rut and realize that health sharing ministries are actually a much more logical way. Then it was a matter of picking one that made the most sense for our family needs and felt right. The Samaritan application and renewal forms have a checkbox for the pastor that says “yes/no… Does the member belong to the fellowship of which you are a leader?” Some churches have official membership roles, others don’t. Especially with young people in our church, they maintain their official “membership” with us until they are settled somewhere, but live in another area and attend church somewhere else. Some of those kids never do officially transfer their membership, but they are active members in their other church. I would expect them to have the pastor from the church they attend to sign the form. In my opinion, “belonging” doesn’t have to mean that you signed a form that you are an official member. Belonging to me means that you attend consistently, you are part of the group. The form does not say “member of” because some churches just don’t do that. I am heading to see my pastor this morning in fact, to get our renewal form signed today. It’s a fun conversation for us as we talk about how Samaritan has worked for us and the growth of Christian organizations like these ministries.
Update Nov 2016: a pastor is no longer required to sign the need submission form, only the application and renewal form need the signature.
As you are stepping out in faith and learning about a new way of doing health care, I strongly recommend that you call Samaritan staff and discuss your concerns over the newness of it. They will likely reassure you that many new members have felt that way at one time or another. I know I did. What finally clicked for me what realizing I had been putting my faith in a contract that insurers try to break. I was putting my faith in something guided only by profit for themselves and not concern/caring/support for me. I wanted to put my faith back in something that is Christ centered; to put my faith with people who genuinely want to help with any medical bills and allow us to have options to be treated the way we want to be treated. The concept was new to me but it’s been around for 30+ years, and successfully. Have you watched the first 2 videos on my “favorite videos” page? I love those, too. They address some of that feeling. And also watch the videos at mysamaritanstory.org. Those are real life member experiences. Best wishes and God Bless as you look for the best solution for your family! 🙂
I heard from a friend that Liberty Health Share is operated by a man named Daniel Beers who has been in legal trouble in the past with the state of Ohio. Can anyone verify this?
Hi, James D.
I’ve been friends with Dan Beers for a few decades now. I have no hesitancy saying I would trust him with my money and, if I ever needed to, I would trust him to help with my own or my family’s personal problems. I trust him to keep his promises.
I chatted with Dan about your post and like any Christian man should, he wants to be accountable not only to his local church community but to the Body of Christ at large.
So, if any of you want to call Dan Beers and ask him anything, or if you just want to chat with a man who has a caring heart, here’s his personal cell phone number, (330) 701-7293.
Dan Beers, and Ron Beers (also at Liberty Direct) were indeed both charged with diverting funds from an earlier cost-sharing plan. http://philanthropynewsdigest.org/news/ohio-jury-finds-nonprofit-founder-and-family-liable-for-14-million-in-damages
Ron Beers, Dan Beers’ dad, died in 2012. I’d enourage you to call Dan Beers and get more accurate information. Probably the most relevant piece of information to this thread is that Dan Beers is not an employee, officer, or director of Liberty HealthShare. The next most important piece of information is that he is a pretty nice guy who you might like if you give yourself a chance to kow him. The third is that our God is a mighty God, who is in the restoration business. Here’s Dan’s personal cell phone number if you want to talk with him directly, (330) 701-7293.
I have worked with three of the health sharing ministries. I helped start one of them over twenty years ago. I bulked at first at Liberty taking non Christians. While I was struggling with that I was praying about becoming involved with LHS. I was asking God what to do. That Sunday my pastor preached on the loving your neighbor as yourself. He pointed out that passage did not say your Christian neighbor or place any other qualifications on who your neighbor was. I am a member of a very conservative church. I then began to think of the Good Samaritan in the bible. He helped someone who was probably quite different than himself as far as race and religion. I thought about medical ministries like Baptist or Catholic hospitals. They treat people no matter what their beliefs or lack of beliefs are.
I came to realize that this is truly a ministry not just to the saved but to the world. If we help them in the name of Jesus they are more likely to listen to the message of salvation through Christ. God gave me as a believer the answer that I was looking for about helping non believers with their medical costs. I am sorry that I didn’t consider that a long time ago. We are commanded to “Love our enemies” so even if we consider someone our enemy we are to love them. Thank you Liberty for providing a ministry to the non Christians. I believe that God has raised you up to for such a time as this.
You can visit Liberty HealthShare at http://www.ACAout.com
Anyone know if Liberty will cover things like chemo treatment? Thank goodness that I do not have a need but someday I may.
Yes, I’m sure they do as part of their sharing for cancer needs, but you’d want to speak with Liberty directly for confirmation. Liberty has caps on how much they will share even at the top level so be sure to factor that in if you have concerns about total cost. Glad it’s not a pressing concern. 🙂
I ran Liberty tandem with the ridiculously expensive Anthem Policy that was to replace my good Anthem Policy canceled by ACA advent. I had to scramble to get it in place. My deductible went form 1250 to 6000 and my drugs were not being covered, and zero out of network which had been 90% and the premium also went up. It was devastating. All self-employed small business people in CT were creamed by it. I was very skeptical about Liberty but because it did not require religious certifications, I asked for information. I had a pre-existing condition but I had a pre-existing condition when I purchased Anthem in 2000. I was never turned down just surcharged. Liberty did not impose a surcharge but told me after it would not cover any surgeries for it, but would cover doctors visits and the discount on RX would be handled, and after first year, anything, including surgery would be covered.
I ran it tandem with the new Anthem policy for six months. The amount I paid in premiums in Anthem for six months was more than I will pay Liberty for 3 years. Anthem was challenging every single charge, rejecting my RXs even with doctor exceptions. I was in ER because of bad burns, Anthem was not covering anything and also NOT applying the actual charges to deductible. Liberty stepped up and starting renegotiating the charges and sharing them. I canceled Anthem. It took me 30 days to get Anthem to fully cancel. I had to talk to several people, get all kinds of follow up etc. Amazing how canceling was so much more difficult than I ever imagined.
Liberty had some challenges with some of my medical providers but I give them credit. I was constantly being billed for the amount outside the Medicare terms that Liberty uses, and I assume all Health Shares use with providers. But Liberty kept sending messages that do not pay anything that hospitals and providers say is Patient Responsibility. As a self-pay person for the past 20 years, I was used to getting overages sent to me when Anthem did not cover. Only after ACA was passed in 2010 were those bills for overages stopped. I was always contesting with Anthem over the decade as to what was applied to deductible and what wasn’t.
Liberty stepped up and negotiated contracts through its holder Globalcare with my providers. Right now we are in negotiations because my primary care provider group just joined a large integrated practices group for contract negotiations. Last year, it took Liberty without a blink. Now that it is part of huge corporation, I was told no. I have Liberty working on this now. I have one physician who will not participate with any insurance, and 100% of his bills either are applied to my Unshared annual of 500 or I get 100% reimbursed when that is met. My ophthalmologist’s takes only Anthem right now, so I pay and get 100% of the medical portion reimbursed and the vision check part, I can use my HSA Account. Yes, you can keep an HSA account because Liberty is not insurance and any medical costs you pay directly as a self-employed person I can have an HSA. Unshared amount is not considered a deductible and there are plenty of legitimate medical costs not shared under Liberty’s plan that are considered legitimate for tax deductions.
Any other physician that doesn’t participate, I get 100% reimbursed. Liberty tries to get direct bill submission by providers so it can negotiate through Globalcare for the same reduced rates that insurance companies get, which is what Medicare allows to be charged. So Liberty has a more effective money management system as it can work with contracts and providers to secure lower rates, and therefore, it can be more effective with sharing the member pool.
So far, I am pleased with what Liberty is accomplishing. I have no interest in abusing drugs or alcohol. The one main area which I am somewhat challenged by is that idea that mental health is not legitimate. I can understand not paying for therapy. Even insurance companies do not pay full freight for therapy, but there are mental health issues that I do believe are medical. This I am thankful I do have the HSA to cover should I need.
May I ask what is Globalcare?
A more general question to others on healthcare ministries. If these ministries take in $10 million a month and the need is $8 million after all expenses. Can they carry over the surplus to the next month so they have a cushion?
The cushion method (closely aligned with pooling) is frowned upon because it makes the ministries more like insurance companies without being subject to state insurance regulations. It has gotten a couple of them in trouble in the past. In months where there is excess money Samaritan just reduces the monthly share required by members for that month. It’s happened quite a lot lately.
Thank you. Your work here has been a real godsend for educating people during these difficult times. Especially after what transpired today in our “court” system.
I know I speak for many others that you have done quite a service for all interested and your demeanor is very even handed and thoughtful. It’s often a thankless job to serve, so thank you so much as you have provided us with a head start.
Thank you for your kind words. It is a labor of love and I enjoy it very much. I’m so glad it’s helpful to people looking for a healthcare sharing solution. 🙂
RE: tax deductible write-off??
Concerning Samaritan Ministries (ONLY), would **any portion** of my sharing into this ministry be considered as a tax deductible write-off? If so, has anyone done so and what were your results?
Monthly shares are not deductible. If you live in Missouri you can deduct from state taxes (so far they’re the only ones). Donations to special prayer needs ARE deductible if you send them direct to Samaritan. Any additional gifts to ministry are also deductible. I actually think this info is standard across all health sharing ministries, but I answered as a Samaritan member.
I am trying to compare… Liberty has $500 per person non-shared per year. If my husband and I had three $2000 ER visits in a year, we would pay $1000 OOP. But with Samaritan, for the same three visits (3 incidents of minimum $300), would we then pay $6000 OOP that year before anything else could be shared? Thanks for your help.
With Samaritan if you had 3 ER visits, your responsibility is 3 x $300 = $900 (not $6000). Sharing begins with the first $300+ need. The visits may cost $2000 each, but Samaritan shares everything beyond $300 starting with the first need to go over that amount ($2000-$300 = $1700 they share). If the hospital gives you any discounts off that $2000, that discount reduces your $300 amount. So it’s possible you would actually pay 3 x $0 = $0. Most people don’t have much trouble getting at least $300 in discounts for something like an ER visit, so it’s more likely Samaritan would be sharing the whole thing. Worst case, hospital gives no discounts and you pay 3 x $300 (assuming 3 ER visits in your family that year).
Liberty: 3 visits (ie: you twice, him once), $500pp x 2 of you = $1000.
Samaritan: 3 visits, $300 per incident (no matter who) x 3 visits = $900.
Assuming no discounts that would make Samaritan $100 cheaper. If you get enough discounts it makes Samaritan $1000 cheaper. The total cost of the visit doesn’t really matter once it goes past $300 (with Samaritan) or $500 (with Liberty) because each ministry will share charges beyond those amounts. And Samaritan’s way of thanking us for getting discounts is to reduce our $300 amount dollar for dollar down to $0 for any discounts we get. Pretty cool. We want to keep costs as low as we can since others are sharing in the need, so yes the totals matter, but you get what I mean. 🙂 Liberty does not currently offer that reduction (not that I can find anyway). I hope I explained that well enough to make sense. 🙂
How do we attempt to get the discount? If the total bill comes to, say, $3000–to get the discount, say $300 off, by paying it in full?
You can usually get a discount just by asking. Ask them what their cash pay discount is. Sometimes they have discounts for cash AND even more for full payment on the spot. If they don’t offer enough, suggest it as an option. Ask for a supervisor if it seems like the first person isn’t authorized to do more. $300 off $3000 is only 10%, and you should probably get more than that if you’re willing to pay it in full right there. The problem with paying in full for a small discount is that Samaritan can’t get additional discounts since it’s already paid. I think they suggest at least 30-40% discount for a full payment, which on average seems to be what people are getting. That will vary considerably by location. If 10% is the best they can offer you, ask them what their payment timelines are. Do they have an interest free period, do they offer more for full payment vs timed payments, etc? Then you can either ask if they have any better offers or thank them politely and submit it to Samaritan to see if they can get anything better. I read a lady’s story once of a hospital that couldn’t offer discounts up front, she had to ask. They started with low discounts and had to wait for the patient to ask if more was an option. It makes sense, they want to get as much as possible. If the patient asked for more, they got it, up to whatever max the billing person was allowed to give. In the end the first offer of 10 or 15% ended up being a full 50% off simply because she kept asking. I have a nearby hospital that only gives 4%, nothing more. Wouldn’t matter how many times I ask. The blessing there is that the original billing amount is typically reasonable so a big discount isn’t necessary (or possible I’m guessing). They key is not to make it a battle; be pleasant and polite. Some people find it uncomfortable so Samaritan handles it. Others do really well on their own. Most people who ask tend to be pleasantly surprised at the discounts available to them.
Thank you for sharing all these information. I am in the process of planning my early retirement so I can serve a Christian ministry overseas and the one thing that held me back was how to pay for healthcare. I am exploring the healthcare sharing ministries as an option over ACA. My question has to do with asking for a discount. I remember having to use the ER and I was covered by a traditional insurance. Despite having insurance, my share of the bill was $800. I tried asking for a discount and the hospital collection unit refused. I was not late for payments. I was simply calling to ask about the exorbitant cost, since the hospital really didn’t do anything major. It turned out I had a panic attack and they simply provided me with an inhaler. And because they made me wait in the ER for 5 hours with no food, they gave me a sack lunch and charged me for it too. Are there hospitals that don’t provide discounts?
Hi Abigail. Yes, discount amounts will vary considerably. Some places offer very little, others a lot. I know of one in my area that doesn’t really discount, but they also don’t charge an exorbitant rate in the first place. Anything is possible. But the vast majority have discount policies in place for self/cash pay. You may have had more trouble getting a discount since you had insurance at the time and weren’t a self pay customer. Maybe the person you talked to wasn’t authorized to offer one, maybe the insurance contract they/you had didn’t allow for it. Some base it entirely on income, others base it on self pay vs insurance or both. It’s hard to say. Samaritan members are generally able to get good discounts just by asking, but Samaritan also uses Karis to go for deeper discounts on our behalf if they think more could be obtained. Their avg discount obtained is about 44%. That could mean some get nothing, others get a lot. We don’t pay extra for that service an the discount they get still reduces our responsibility amount first. Samaritan has members who are missionaries overseas, so your membership could follow you once you take that step. What you find from overseas hospitals for pricing is an unknown to me, I don’t know if they do any discounting. But I’ve also heard the starting price for healthcare overseas can be much lower in the first place. As long as bills are translated into English for descriptions and the total amount Samaritan will share those that qualify. You just need a US based address for sending/receiving shares. Before you join, I recommend contacting your local hospitals and clinics (any you would typically use) and see what their self pay discount policy is. Sometimes they have it on their website. For non emergency service an upfront payment can be required, emergencies must be treated regardless. God bless you as you take this next step.
Update: The more I think about this, the more I’m convinced you couldn’t get a discount because of the insurance. Insurance already got you a “discount” and you, the hospital and the insurance company are contractually bound by those terms. Some locations will do a complete write off of the remainder due to financial hardship, but a discount in the way you describe isn’t common from what I understand. You probably would have had a better chance of a discount if insurance had never been involved. Just my take on it.
Is LHS accepted as a “Health insurance” under obamacare? I’m asking in terms of penalty for not having the “proper” health insurance. Since, according to my understanding certain things, like birthcontrol, are supposed to be covered under the new obama care law.
I’m just trying to be clear, LHS sounds great.
Member of recognized health care sharing ministries are exempt from the obamacare fines, but Liberty doesn’t appear to be 100% sure they are truly exempt, though they have submitted their paperwork to Washington it sounds like they are still waiting. You should call Liberty to find out their current status. Samaritan, CHM, Medishare and Altrua have confirmed their exemption so members of those 4 will not pay the fines. Because these ministries are not insurance companies they are not required to have the same terms insurance plans do so they do not have to share in the cost of birth control, pre-existings, certain lifestyle choices, etc.
Liberty is exempt from ACA fines. It sent all the particulars to members on January 9th on how to fill out the forms for IRS
I have a friend who has Liberty HealthShare and he just gave me a form where they will reward you with a $100 Visa Giftcard for each referral that enrolls.
Great article! So glad I found it, as we have been looking at Liberty. Can you tell me what all of the medical share companies are? I know of Liberty, Medi-Share & Samaritan. Is there somewhere that compares all of them? Trying to decide for our family.
I know of Samaritan Ministries, Medi-share, CHM, Altrua, Liberty and CMF CURO. This page has comparisons on 4 of them, http://samaritanministriesreview.com/compare-to-other-ministries/. I don’t know of other comparison sites, I only did the ones I was considering for our family and then added Liberty later.
Hello! I am planning to get my pilots’ license,is it so that being a pilot disqualifies you from Liberty HealthShare? I was contacted today by one of their reps. I didn’t see at website a list of “risky behaviors”. Please confirm,for me about flying. Samaritan looks like the “healthshare” plan to go with. I have BCBS of Mi,my premium went up almost $100 a month for 2015. Thank you!
I don’t know enough about Liberty to tell you that for sure. Another member alluded to it, though. I would suggest calling them directly to find out. Sorry I couldn’t help more. It would be unfortunate if that’s true, being a pilot is a great achievement!
I am also a Liberty Member and there is no waiting period at all anymore. We voted it out last year. Second, you can get RX, Dental and Vision through a partnership program discounted. I use the RX, but the Carrington discount card comes with a weblink that lists participating dentists by zipcode. The discount through Carrington is contracted with the Health Sharing or other companies’ plans it works with. Liberty’s RX discount plan is better than I was getting as a direct pay member of Anthem on my allergy meds. I have always carried a separate Dental Plan so I do not use that portion. The Partner RX, Dental & Vision discount program is $24 a month included in two of Liberty’s plans. I have the complete plan. Any foot medical issues are shared if you have met such as xrays, surgery, and so forth. Anything not considered medical-orthodics is not. I also get more shared with limited sharing such as Chiropractic than I ever did under Anthem and which Medicare no longer covers at all. Liberty is evolving well-new computer system last year, growing memberships, new plan offerings..we do get to vote on all. Tax Exemption was approved and all members were given the information to submit to IRS. Liberty’s tax exemption is under a different partner name per member instructions:
“To secure that healthcare sharing exemption for you, Liberty HealthShare, Inc., in 2014, joined with Gospel Light Mennonite Church Medical Aid Plan, Inc., a healthcare sharing ministry recognized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As a result, the members of Liberty HealthShare have the security of being members of a CMS recognized healthcare sharing ministry and the members of Gospel Light Mennonite Church Medical Aid Plan, Inc. have the benefit of Liberty HealthShare’s technological and medical industry know-how.
This cooperative agreement ensures you are a member of a healthcare sharing ministry which has received recognition under the ACA. Your sharing plan did not change and the terms of your sharing plan remain the same.
Liberty HealthShare, Inc.’s cooperative effort with Gospel Light means that we have been set free from what John Winthrop (the first Governor of Massachusetts) called “the arbitrary and capricious nature of government.”
For tax preparation the following instructions were also provided:
The IRS has prepared tax forms for the 2014 tax year, and the places on the forms where you claim your exemption as a member of a healthcare sharing ministry are simple to fill out and fairly easy to understand.
Your tax return, on the new Form 8965, just asks for the Code under which you are exempt. As a member of a health care sharing ministry you have a Code “D” exemption. Your tax return does not ask for the name of the exempt health care sharing ministry. On Form 8965, leave Parts I and II blank, and in Part III, you will simply write in the letter “D” in the column titled “Exemption Type.”
In the event your accountant or tax preparer asks for the name of the recognized HCSM through which you share medical bills, the formal name of our Health Care Sharing Ministry is: ‘Gospel Light Mennonite Church Medical Aid Plan, Inc.’ Liberty HealthShare is a ministry of that entity.
As more tax year information becomes available, we will keep you informed, and as always, we will continue to make Christian health care sharing affordable and accessible for all.
I am a Liberty Health Share member. I like it verses the others because of the following:
– The health providers submit the bills directly to Liberty. I don’t like the hastle of getting the bills from the health provider and then submitting them.
– Although I attend church every week, I’m not that close with the minister. I’m not sure I would have been accepted by the others.
– I like the no-nonsense straight forward coverage of medical bills. $500 deductible per person per year. That is a very small deductible! And $1 million per incident seems like it should cover most things. A pastor I know had open heart surgery which was a little over 100K so well below the $1 million limit.
– I did not know they allow same sex marriage and that bothers me. (Someone asked earlier why. 1) Because it was clearly nonbiblical in both the old and new testament. 2) It’s easy to show that they have way more medical issues (for the men anyway.)
– I don’t think the other health sharing services even allow you to be a member if you have a preexisting condition. Liberty allows reasonable preexisting conditions with limited payments the first 3 years. After 3 years it is no longer considered preexisting.
One thing I don’t like about Liberty: They consider piloting a plane, glider, powered parachute to be risky behavior. I suppose it is somewhat riskier but it isn’t against the Bible. I have piloted planes before and may do that again in the future. I don’t know what I will do if I am able to fly planes again.
If you fly planes again you could look into the other ministries. I have pilots in my family so I understand your love of flying. 🙂
Piloting is not risky in the Bible as people were not flying or piloting at that time.
Thanks for contributing. In case you need the info in the future, the other ministries all allow people to join with pre-existing conditions (at least CHM, Samaritan and Medishare do), but all 3 have differing ways of handling it. CHM and Medishare both have step-up plans similar to Liberty’s. Samaritan considers most issues no longer pre-existing if you go a year without treatment or symptoms (cancer and heart issues are 5 yr waits). The other ministries will all accept you regarding your church attendance, you don’t have to be close to the minister, just have regular attendance.
I don’t think Jesus ever once called out gays as being sinful. Could you share the passage where he condemns them? I’ve never seen such a passage. Also, Leviticus tells us to stone to death children who talk back to us. So, what are we employing as a moral compass here?
Just confirmed on the phone with Liberty HealthShare that they do NOT subscribe to the biblical perspective of marriage is only between a man and a woman and therefore do cover members that participate in “same-sex” marriage, which is a)immoral and b)unhealthy.
FAQs #5 “Is there a health screening required for membership approval?”
Members highly value the spiritual principle that our bodies are gifts from God and we must respect and care for our physical bodies. Further, we have an ethical obligation to our fellow members to live healthy as this keeps medical costs down. As a community of people we try our best to live out Jesus Christ’s mandates. In general, a healthy lifestyle requirement includes, but is not limited to, the following:”
Please explain to all of us exactly why same-sex marriage is “unhealthy” and “immoral”?
Immoral: God says that sodomy (and, by inference, lesbianism) is detestable to him: Leviticus 20:13: ‘If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them ahve done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.’ (NIV)
Unhealthy: Paul tells us that same-sex perversion leads to physical judgment. Read Romans 1:27. Also see Job 36:14.
Finally, in Leviticus 18:24-28, Moses makes it clear that the acceptance and celebration of sexual sin results in God causing the land to vomit out the offending nation; Leviticus 18:22 specifically lists sodomy as one of a parade of sexual sins that illustrate the point.
The Bible does not stop there. These are just some notable passsages that make the case.
Leviticus also calls for the stoning of those who wear clothing that contains mixed fibers. Are you really going there? Many many details in the OT reflect a violent and besieged way of thinking we’ve hopefully moved past–kinda like accepting that the earth is not the center of the solar system despite the Biblical descriptions that imply otherwise. Jesus surrounded himself with people others judged to be lesser–and so demonstrated that they were “chosen” by him. His teachings challenge us to do the same.
I would look to Romans 1 regarding the designation of homosexuality as immoral. In regards to Jesus taking those judged to be lesser I think we should recognize that He accepted them were he found them but he never left them there. His call is always to come out from the world and its ways. He confronted the woman at the well about her lifestyle and it is clear she not only accepted His judgement but also responded. He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more.
1 Cor 6:12-19 or 2 Cor. 6
Paul continuously spoke about being separate in our actions from the world through out his letters. By the way much of what you are talking about in OT is about being separate. I couldn’t find that passage about killing someone who mixes fabrics.
Leviticus also directs us to stone to death children who talk back to us. And Moses had his pals stone to death the poor man who collected wood on the Sabbath. Let’s use our critical thinking skills here. You’re taking life directives from people who didn’t know where the sun went at night and who assumed the world was flat.
If God has a problem with homosexuality, let HIM deal with it. You and I? Let’s live by the Golden Rule and love everyone as they are.
Liberty HealthShare’s current sharing guidelines are on their website under the Downloads tab. Those Guidelines are in keeping with what you and I would understand to be the biblical perspective of marriage as only between a man and a woman.
On page 19 under number 11 Liberty HealthShare’s Guidelines say, “Marriage means the spiritual and legal union of one man and one woman under the covenant of matrimony and the laws of the state.”
I just spoke with Joe from Liberty, and what he stated is that while they do allow members of same-sex marriages to join, they do not recognize them as being married, so each must enroll as an individual member. Also, most, if not all, of the health risks that are associated with that lifestyle are not eligible to be shared.
While I whole-heartedly disagree with this non-Biblical, sinful lifestyle, I also do not have any ethical qualms about them allowing them to join. After all, we are not endorsing their lifestyle or accepting it, we are merely helping another as a good samaritan with their health costs.
what exactly do you mean by “health risk associated with that life style”? What extra health risks am I taking by having been born gay?
Great website. You have created a very good place to start. I had begun my own research when I randomly came across yours. Your information is pretty consistent with what I have read also on the various ministries.
My husband and I are doing extensive research and Cost Benefit Analysis. There are actually five health share ministries available. The fifth to come available (as of October 1, 2014) is through Christ Medicus Foundation known as CMF CURO, a Catholic-Christian based healthshare ministry administered through Samaritan Ministries International.
CMF CURO would actually be the 6th I know of, because of Altrua and Liberty being 4 and 5. I like that CMF CURO is administered through Samaritan, but I admit so far it confuses me a little. I need to do more research on that one at some point. However, I’m not Catholic and it appears to be set up specifically for Catholics.
Maybe you should contact LHS by email or phone to ensure your post is completely accurate and free of misunderstandings.
Yes, I would encourage anyone who is considering any of the healthcare sharing ministries to contact them directly and not rely on just one set of information. I am not considering them for our family so making the phone call wasn’t necessary. The information I posted is for general comparison only and is taken directly from their website so I would have to assume it is accurate. I clearly state where my interpretations and questions are.