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||$634||$383||$999||$749||$589|
|couple up to age 35 (or 2 person membership)||$591||$261||$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.