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Buh-bye, Obamacare! Hello, Health Care Sharing

buhbye-obamacare-hello-healthcare-sharing-image
by Louise Kuo Habakus

** data updated 8/24/16 **

Note: Read my one-year update — A Better Alternative to Health Insurance

Since leaving our corporate jobs, my husband and I have spent an obscene amount of money on health insurance that never covers… anything. On the rare occasion that I go in-network, the appointment is usually a dud… punctuated by the scripts I won’t fill, the treatments I decline, and the follow-up appointments I won’t make.

So when I took a look at what the Affordable Care Act says my family must now pay, I knew we were done. I had reached the point beyond which I will not be pushed.

When it comes to health insurance, the Habakus family is sending a pink slip to government and industry. I’ve found a solution for my family that’s also a tangible rejection of the current system.

Obamacare doesn’t work for everyone

If you have individual coverage, if you had a plan that was canceled thanks to Obamacare, if you’re young, and if you’re ineligible for subsidies, then you’re probably paying a lot more (photo was shared on Facebook on 10/26/16 via Wendy Patterson)

To make matters worse, your doctor might be among the over 214,000 providers exiting the Obamacare exchanges — about 25% of all professionally active physicians.

I’ve kept our insurance this long because, well, you know… someone might need a limb reattached. But I haven’t been applying critical thinking to this decision.

Until now.

The prospect of paying twice as much for less of what I want finally got my attention — along with the knowledge that the pharma-government-insurance complex will deliver more changes that I won’t like.

There’s a lot more at stake than money

With traditional health insurance, I wonder about entering into a situation I may really regret. Once you choose one of their “can’t-go-out-of-network” doctors and walk through those hospital doors with your child…

YOU’RE ON THEIR TURF

And make no mistake — you are no longer in charge. It’s not always possible to say: “No, thanks.” The institutional response to disagreement about health care treatment has become increasingly draconian.

Imagine, God forbid, your child is very sick and the hospital is insisting on “lifesaving,” standard of care medical interventions that you are unwilling to pursue. The only person standing between you and a total nightmare is your physician. Now let’s assume you chose the doctor because she takes your insurance. Will you be surprised to learn that she’s not on your side?

If the hospital won’t discharge your child, you can’t leave. It happens all the time. It happened to me. Once Child Protective Services is called, you’re in big trouble. Legal medical kidnapping is a growing problem (Listen to this podcast on Fearless Parent Radio™).

WHY I’M KICKING MY INSURANCE TO THE CURB

I will no longer participate in a system that incentivizes me to use health care I do not want.

I will no longer subsidize health care that conflicts so fundamentally with my values and beliefs.

I will no longer support a hidebound industry with zero innovation, bad customer service, and obscenely high executive compensation.

I no longer feel safe with traditional health insurance coverage. The dynamic has become adversarial. I want more control.

I refuse to pay one more dime into a dysfunctional, overpriced, abusive, unethical, damaging, and totally broken system for insurance coverage that I stand on my head to avoid at all costs.

Big words but now what?

Ways to opt out of Obamacare

If you procrastinated like I did, then you’re probably scrambling to figure out your options. There are different ways to scrap Obamacare. It’s completely legit but you have to do your homework. I learned that:

Huh? What’s a health care sharing ministry?

It is a cost sharing arrangement for medical expenses among people who hold similar religious beliefs. It is not insurance; no one assumes responsibility for your medical bills. It is exempt from Obamacare. There are four “grandfathered” options. Three are open to practicing Christians and one is for people committed to religious liberty. (Read the comments below for an option that has same sex couples and has members of all faiths, including Jews, Muslims, and Mormons.)

THEY SHARE SOME SIMILARITIES

  • Individuals and families pay a monthly share.
  • Payments are made to members with approved medical bills.
  • Members adhere to certain lifestyle guidelines, including abstention from tobacco and illegal drugs, and sign a statement of faith or belief.
  • Certain expenses may be excluded (i.e., those associated with pre-existing conditions, preventive care, vaccinations, dental, vision, birth control, abortions, STDs, and infertility).

THERE ARE ALSO IMPORTANT DIFFERENCES

  • Monthly share amount
  • Extent of financial risk and maximum amount shared per medical need
  • Central payment or direct sharing to members
  • Use of in-network providers
  • Sharing for alternative treatments
  • Incentive discounts for achieving specific health goals

Why we chose Samaritan Ministries

Samaritan Ministries International is an Illinois-based not-for-profit corporation that started sharing medical needs in 1994. Membership is growing rapidly. As of September 2016, 62,696 participating households shared 5,279 needs totaling over $21 million.

We chose Samaritan for several reasons:

First, it’s well run. Here’s their 2014 Form 990. We spoke with current members who rave about it. I couldn’t find any online complaints. When I asked our agent for dirt on Samaritan, he mustered a feeble defense for insurance. He admitted that he’s losing customers to it: “It really works.” I love that Samaritan contracts with The Karis Group to negotiate discounts — typically 40-45% — on our behalf.

Second, it works for my family. We agree with Samaritan’s philosophy of health care and its member requirements, including regular church attendance.

Third, Samaritan’s guidelines offer more control over our health care choices. Its rules are the simplest. Members select their own doctors and hospitals, and can travel out of state for procedures. It includes visits to licensed alternative practitioners, including naturopaths. Alternative treatments and “prescriptions” are subject to an additional approval process except for cancer treatment which can be 100% alternative up to the $250,000 maximum. Samaritan is evaluating the equivalency of alternative medicine in more areas.

Finally, instead of paying Blue Cross, I’d rather be part of a community that sends checks to real people to help lift financial burdens during their time of medical need.

Samaritan is definitely not for everyone, however. Read its FAQs and Guidelines, or call 888-268-4377 #2. Here’s what I wanted to know.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?

The monthly share is:

  • $495 for 3+ person families
  • $440 for 2 person families
  • $305 for widowed or divorced parents with children
  • $220 for singles.

Young adults aged 25 and under pay less. There is a one-time $200 membership fee.

HOW DOES IT WORK?

Members identify themselves as self-pay patients when they go to the doctor or hospital. Most providers are cash-friendly and many like avoiding insurance hassles. Sometimes cash-pay prices are lower than insurance rates.

Members are eligible to receive up to $250,000 in medical bills per qualifying event, after paying the first $300. Discounts are applied to the $300 first. Members are not terminated for having too many medical events.

When members submit medical bills, they are added to the prayer list so everyone can begin praying. After verification, Samaritan publishes qualifying needs in the monthly newsletter and then they are assigned. Each member is asked to send the full amount of his monthly share amount to a single member with an approved need, along with notes of encouragement.

WHAT ARE THE TAX CONSEQUENCES?

Checks from members are considered gifts but Samaritan ensures that amounts do not exceed the IRS annual gift exclusion (currently $14,000).

Missouri amended its income tax code to allow a full personal deduction of health care sharing ministry expenses. The deductibility in other states is unclear and not recommended.

This is a useful article from the Journal of Accountancy about the tax implications of religious exemptions from the health care individual mandate. Applicants should discuss concerns with their tax advisors.

FOR NEEDS ABOVE $250,000 THERE’S “SAVE TO SHARE”

The optional “Save to Share” program addresses catastrophic medical expenses. Beyond the main points listed above, this is what clinched it for my husband.

Up to one-half of available “Save to Share” funds — currently about $5.5 million — can be shared for any single qualifying need above $250,000.

Participants pay a $15 annual administrative fee and set aside an annual amount based on household size:

  • $399 for 2 parent families
  • $266 for single parent families or couples
  • $133 for individuals

No payment is made unless there is a qualifying need. The largest need during Samaritan’s 20-year history was $1.5 million; it was reduced to $750,000 through negotiations. No one in “Save to Share” has ever been cut off due to insufficient funds.

AND PRE-EXISTING CONDITIONS, LIKE AUTISM?

Samaritan will publish medically-necessary treatment for qualifying injury or disease ordered by a licensed practitioner. If any member, including a child with autism, has an eligible medical need, such as a concussion following an accident, the expense can be shared in the same way that the ER visit of a hemophiliac would be shared after sustaining a cut. The cause of the ER visit is the cut not the hemophilia. Ditto for a broken bone due to a fall for someone with osteoporosis.

Expenses for autism as defined in the DSM isn’t publishable but medical conditions in autism are. So there’s no sharing for ABA, social skills, or communication deficits, but yes to colitis or Lyme disease. Detox and supplements must directly relate to the eligible medical or injury diagnosis and prescribed by the provider. Hyperbaric, physical, occupational, speech, vision, and analogous therapies related to injury or disease are publishable.

A condition is no longer pre-existing when a member has been symptom- and med-free for 12 months. There are three exceptions to this rule:

  • Heart disease is 5 years.
  • Cancer is 5 years, for particular type of cancer.
  • Type 1 diabetes is always pre-existing.

[Ed.: Samaritan recently modified its rules. It was formerly 7 years for cancer and heart disease used to be a permanent pre-existing condition]

Samaritan will sometimes ask a provider to complete a verification form regarding a member’s pre-existing condition.

WHAT IF…

If you’re not in “Save to Share” and your medical expenses exceed $250,000, or if you have a pre-existing condition, the Special Prayer Needs ministry may be able to help. Members share on a free will offering basis. Recent medical bills for a little boy with cancer totaled $300,000; members voluntarily contributed the balance. This is based upon the extra generosity of members and cannot be relied upon.

If someone on your list stops sharing, his amount will be reassigned the following month.

If there are more medical needs than shares, Samaritan will use a prorating method. For example, if there’s enough for 90% of publishable needs in a given month, then 90% of each need will be published for that month. If prorating occurs three months in a row, Samaritan’s Board will propose a share increase.

HOW TO APPLY

Applicants can begin membership the day they sign up online. The first month’s share is paid by credit card and the completed application, including the pastor’s signature, is due within 10 days. Medical needs cannot be published until the form is submitted.

***

Every purchase decision is a powerful act of advocacy. We can send a strong message with our checkbooks. If you decide to join a health care ministry, I’d love to hear the news. And if you choose Samaritan, let them know that Fearless Parent™ (Louise #64821) sent you.

Louise circle 8-7-14Louise and her family are the newest members of Samaritan Ministries International. This is the first time in her life that she has not had health insurance coverage and it feels great.

 

Resources:

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81 Comments

  • Pingback: Buh-bye, Obamacare! Hello, Health Care Sharing | Polymumof8's Blog

  • Christina Adams via Facebook

    Just read this. I find it interesting it’s been around so long and wasn’t touted as a model by Republicans during the Obamacare fight. I imagine it was too religious for mainstream political negotiation. Probably many faith-based groups use this group. Fascinating stuff but not for people who want coverage of sexual issues/reproductive choice-related medical issues. If the Benjamins and the prayers line up, it could work for certain families.

  • Melanie Dragone via Facebook

    So very interesting Louise~ your posts are always so informative & thorough~ thank you!

  • Sam Iam RN via Facebook

    Interesting. Thanks for sharing the info.

  • Sarah

    Thanks to Louise Kuo Habakus for providing ordinary Americans with information on health care alternatives.

    After losing our health insurance, we have been forced into a failed system that has nothing to do with affordability or access to quality heath care. Monthly premiums have risen dramatically, the pool of providers has narrowed, and deductibles have ballooned to unreasonable levels. We continue to pay more for much less.

    Now that 2015 is about to roll in, it would certainly be wise for consumers to become informed regarding their options. Louise’s article is a perfect starting point! I had heard about faith-based alternatives, but it wasn’t until I found this article that I realized that such alternatives can be a very real option, especially for middle class Americans who do not qualify for subsidies.

  • Marcia

    I am widowed and not yet eligible for Medicare. I recently lost my medical insurance policy because it wasn’t in line with Obamacare. The new policy Blue Cross offered me was triple the cost of my old plan with a deductible that was twice as high. I refuse to subject myself to government healthcare and I am so thrilled to now be a member of Samaritan for financial reasons but also because it is faith based and I am not paying for procedures that I object to.

  • David Appleby

    Thanks, Louise! Loved it. I’ve always kept my eye on these types of programs wondering if it were something to consider. I like the concept. It is ‎similar to what the early Christians did to help support each other.

    You really got me thinking.

  • Thad

    Hi Louise! I agree one hundred percent with everything you say! Why? Because I’m already an SMI member (through The Health Co-Op). It has been the very best thing we have ever done (the decision to leave insurance for the co-op).

    You see, I am blessed to work at The Karis Group, and we have a great fondness for members of SMI (as you might understand). Karis paid for my health insurance through BCBS till the end of 2012, when I was given the opportunity to join The Health Co-Op (which Karis had started in early 2012 as a set of additional benefits along with SMI).

    Moving to health care sharing for my family has been the most rewarding experience ever.

    Your going to love SMI!

  • MC

    Thank you so much for posting this. I have been putting off applying for health insurance through Obamacare because something just doesn’t gel for me. We are self employed and I have lived through superhigh monthly premiums that cover nothing. We have been self- payers for awhile with our kids covered for major med only which is not a system I have been ok with. I have been losing sleep over this issue for awhile.

  • Stephanie Martel

    This is fascinating, Louise! I love the work you’re doing and how generous you are with your information. Thank you!

  • Michelle Ford

    Wow, this is great information. Thank you Louise!

  • Virginia Shapiro

    Louise, I loved this post and relate to everything you wrote in it. My husband and I are very healthy, health-conscious self-employed 60-year-olds. We spend thousands of dollars per year on our health insurance for basically nothing that serves us – and nothing that ever served our children when they were on our plan. We have simply done it to be “responsible” in case of accident or other catastrophe. I love the idea of the sharing ministries and looked at their requirements. The only problem is that we are not Christian. Any thoughts for us?
    Thanks!

    • Profile photo of admin2
      admin2

      Hi, Virginia. I’m just off the phone with Liberty HealthShare. It’s clear that this option is accessible to the broadest segment of the population. It is Christian but accepts every faith. It has, for example, Mormon, Muslim, and Jewish members, and it accepts same sex couples. Here are its beliefs outlined in the “Do I Qualify?” link (paraphrased):

      – Personal rights and liberties originate from God and not bestowed on us by governments or men.
      – Each person has a fundamental right to worship the God of the Bible in his or her own way.
      – It is our ethical obligation to assist others.
      – It is our spiritual duty to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid foods, behaviors or habits that produce sickness or disease.
      – It is our fundamental right of conscience to direct our own healthcare (with valued advisors) free from government meddling.

      Liberty asks that you behave in a way that is consistent with your faith. It does not require attendance or participation in a particular kind of worship or service. (Call to see if they might be a good fit: 855-585-4237 #1!).

      In this Feb 2014 article from DelawareOnline, Liberty’s director of communications says: “We want to be as open and inviting to everyone as we can be.”

  • Sandra

    Thanks for posting, more people need to know about this, def something for us to consider in the future

  • Dawn Loughborough

    This is a helpful resource…the only other option I had considered was just to pay the fine. 🙂 Americans spend more on medical bills than food. It seems so inflated. I agree we need better options. I would like a corporate health savings plan. As for control, I’m completely interested in having a say and in being responsible for my health.

    • Jill

      That’s because our food and water are being poisoned! Health costs won’t go down a lot until we stop eating garbage laced with poisons. Water should NEVER be fluorinated or chlorinated. GMO corn has the insecticide INSIDE each kernel. We need to learn it is far better to eat a bug or two than to feel like crap 24/7.

      • Profile photo of Louise Kuo Habakus
        Louise Kuo Habakus

        Amen, Jill. The truth is that we pay for things one way or another, now or later. We are a society that balks at paying $8 for a dozen spectacularly nutritious and delicious pasture-raised eggs (“outrageous!”)… but doesn’t hesitate to spring daily for a addictive and fattening $5 sugar- and caffeine-laced foamy confection.

        Seems we need to fund our own PSAs. Remember the Partnership for a Drug-Free America commercials?

        How about… This is a human being. This is cruelly-raised, poisoned garbage. This is a human being who eats garbage. Any questions?

  • Lisa, Matty's Mom

    Wow Louise! You have a very SPECIAL gift and are sharing it wonderfully! It was so nice to see you and the boys Monday, OMGosh they have gotten so big! Where has the time gone!! Xoxo. lisa

  • Ezra Eickmeyer

    I love this. I agree with almost everything posted here and my beliefs line up quite well… except, why not open this to people of all faiths? There are many of us out here who have a daily relationship with God and have prayer-based families but don’t go to any church or feel comfortable with any particular organized religion. I believe that peaceful, loving, positive and caring people of prayer are all brothers and sisters under the Creator. I would love to join if my family were welcome as a non-denominational, non-church joining family close to God. We pray at meals, home school our children, support midwifery and have home-births, teach family values and to value family, honor creation and prioritize doing the right thing over making money or having power and position in society. Is daily living practice and faith not more important than whether one goes to church to pray with others of specific religion? Thoughts?

    • Profile photo of admin2
      admin2

      Hi, Ezra.

      I’ve been over-thinking your question. The reflexive response, the one that we teach our children and that we want to hear ourselves, is that inclusion and open access are good things. If we discover a group that appeals to us, we would like to feel welcome with open arms when we knock on their door.

      So why don’t these groups open them up to all people? It’s a fair question to ask them. Here’s the response that I imagine some might offer. Health care sharing requires deep trust and a leap of faith that people will be there when you need them. It’s human nature to feel most comfortable when we meet members of our “tribe.” It’s a practically transcendent feeling to find others who feel the same way that we do about our most heartfelt and important values. I feel this way in my advocacy work. It’s an enormous comfort and a huge exhale to find that place.

      What I am hoping will happen is that health care sharing will be hugely successful and this success will spur more innovation… new options for different types of groups. It seems this model might work best when the groups are not too small but not too big either.

      Imagine a group for people who use alternative medicine, who exercise regularly, and who eat healthfully and mindfully. It sure would be interesting to see the health outcomes of these members. I believe it would make a fantastic business model. Imagine an insurance company with that target market. They’d make a ton of money.

      I’m learning that there are more health care sharing options than the four I mention in my article. I hope to find out more and share that information, too.

      • Thad

        Back when the ACA was moving its way (rapidly) through congress, the date of 7/1/1999 for health care sharing organizations was decided (by some committee I guess) as the “grandfathered” cutoff date.

        The 3 big health care sharing ministries (SMI,Medi-share, CHM) all have existed since the mid-90s at least.

  • Gina Radakovich Vokoun via Facebook

    Amen, Louise Kuo Habakus!

    We’ve done our best to shoot for never having to go there… corporate medical greed and control. Here’s what else I have to say…if your way of thinking is: “YOU HAVE TO HAVE A DOCTOR! OMG!”… then working on your wellness might be something you want to look into. Not REACTIVE care like it exists today in the medical world but PROACTIVE care that keeps you from”going there.

    Nutrition and the quality of that nutrition are a BIG DEAL!

    “Imagine, God forbid, your child is very sick and the hospital is insisting on “lifesaving,” standard of care medical interventions that you are unwilling to pursue. The only person standing between you and a total nightmare is your physician. Now let’s assume you chose the doctor because she takes your insurance. Will you be surprised to learn that she’s not on your side?

    If the hospital won’t discharge your child, you can’t leave. It happens all the time. It happened to me. Once Child Protective Services is called, you’re in big trouble. Legal medical kidnapping is a growing problem. (Tune into Fearless Parent Radio™ on December 17).”

  • Sue Judge

    Wow! This is amazing and so perfectly timed for us. Same position at the Judge house. We bagged BCBS over the summer because we couldn’t afford the increase for a decrease in coverage that we don’t use anyway. And how spot on point you are — that we are paying into a system that could very well serve to remove our children because of our decisions regarding their health care. Amazing stuff, lady… thank you!

    I have a question. We’ve been meaning to get back to regular church attendance but I don’t want to link this to my health care decision. Do you have any other info on Liberty HealthShare? Why did you go with Samaritan? Thanks for any additional information, Louise. xo

    • Profile photo of admin2
      admin2

      Hey, Sue. So many of us in the same boat. Samaritan is a perfect fit for my family but it’s def not for everyone. Here’s why we chose it:

      1. Its requirements work for us.
      2. Its rules are the simplest.
      3. It appears to offer the best value ($405/mo/family for $250,000/need plus a robust catastrophic option).
      4. Personal endorsement by someone I know and respect.
      5. I like sending my monthly share to a real person.
      6. It works hard to keep control of $ in members’ hands.

      I haven’t spent as much time digging into the other options but I just gave Liberty HealthShare a call since receiving a bunch of questions about it. Liberty is Christian but opens its door to same sex couples and people of all faiths. It does not require a pastor or religious leader’s signature.

      See my comment above ^^ in response to Virginia.

  • Renee Momvocate via Facebook

    love love love, but big pharma is not going to allow it.

  • Jeanette Forlano Slaw

    Hi Louise . . . thanks for this extremely informative post! I, too, am a health conscious, self-employed person in my early 60’s who chooses “alternative” physicians and treatments when necessary; but I continue to pay a monthly premium for “traditional” coverage that I don’t use, but feel I must maintain in the event of an emergency or medical catastrophe. I’ve often thought that I am supporting an industry that I do not believe in which goes against my personal philosophy, but didn’t know there were options such as “health care ministries” until now. It is a wonderful idea that makes so much sense! I will definitely look into it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • Tom De Jong

    Louise,
    Even though, as a financial planner, I have a license to sell health insurance, my family, and some of my clients have signed up for Christian Medishare. I wrote a letter to my clients similar to yours back in 2013: https://www.facebook.com/notes/money-concepts-the-planning-firm/my-healthcare-letter-to-my-clients/606282999411205. 🙂
    They forgot to put in the ‘affordable’ part of the Affordable Care Act.

  • Gina Radakovich Vokoun via Facebook

    We have been gradually moving toward something just like this. Our insurance hasn’t covered Max’s therapy in years, the only reason we go to a mainstream doctor is for Max’s annual visit.

    • Susie Pellum via Facebook

      I switched to Christian medical bill sharing a couple of years ago. My previous insurance that I’d had for years had premiums going higher and higher while coverage was going lower and lower. I just could no longer send them money each month to cover treatments that I no longer believed in and that I felt were harmful.

      • Gina Radakovich Vokoun via Facebook

        We have been stepping down. My husband’s employer does basically sharing. They pay all the bills. But it is still mainstream. We have catastrophic type insurance with high deducts, we do the screening for them (being healthy we get kudos) so our monthly premium is $0. Kid falls out of a tree, the broken arm will be fixed. Anything that goes on at dr. Brendan’s is out of pocket. I’d like to take that to this next step. Great article.

  • Mary Coyle

    Fabulous article! Everyone should read it!!!!!

  • David Henry

    Fabulous, fabulous article!
    Beautifully organized and written as well.
    We will link to it in our next newsletter.
    David
    Healing-Oceans Family Wellness Center

  • Ava

    Very timely article! I am currently researching our insurance options and didn’t like any of the exchange options for the reasons you mentioned, even though we would qualify for a subsidy. I am going to look into Liberty — hope it will work for us!

  • Pingback: Buh-bye, Obamacare! Hello, Health Care Sharing | wchildblog

  • Kendra Pettengill

    Louise,
    I got lucky at the very last minute and found the “Oregon Co-op” a non-profit insurance through the ACA market place and in response from requests from Oregonians. You know us hipppy/birkenstock/dope smoking godless communists out here in Oregon. But seriously, the Co-op was a life-saver. It will cost me $256.00 a month for just me, in Oregon every child gets state coverage so no issue there. Your primary care provider can actually be a Naturopath! Oh No the horror of it all! I am one of those the ACA was written for, well actually we should have been the poster children for the ACA. Never unemployed, always had insurance, and then after Autism and Cancer, wham we were cut off and left in the cold with nothing.
    Last year I bought through the Oregon only marketplace and had a great policy for only $56.00 a month.
    But after the Oregon website and system crashed, we were told we would have to buy from the Federal Marketplace. The rates were more than triple what I had paid in the Oregon alone system for the same plan and through the same company (how does one explain that besides greedy Bast#$%s!)….well until I fell across the co-op. I love the idea of a co-op and the faith based system would never work for me! It is still a lot more money, but so open and accepting, especially allowing for alternative care. It was the lowest monthly premiums, lowest out-of-pocket costs, and lowest co-pays. Not perfect but the alternative choices sealed the deal. I hope others find options that work for them as well. Co-ops may be the answer in or outside of faith based institutions.

  • Tom

    Unfortunately, co-ops may not be the answer, at least not for everyone. The state of Iowa only has two companies available on the federal gov’t exchange (so much for competition driving prices down), and Blue Cross Blue Shield (Wellmark), who insures 80% of Iowans, has opted not to join the exchange thus far (can’t blame ’em). The two companies on the exchange are coventry (aetna), and cooportunity, a non-profit coop. Cooportunity was recently taken into receivership by the Iowa division of Insurance, as they are running out of money. Here’s the most recent news: http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/health/2015/01/07/iowa-insurance-commissioner-cooportunity-health/21415617/. What it boils down to is that the reason the coops are able to offer much lower premiums is because of taxpayer funds–the fed gov’t has been infusing them with 100’s of millions of dollars. But for cooportunity, that funding has dried up, and their claims far exceed their revenues from premiums. This isn’t rocket science, and has been predicted by plenty of people: let’s offer insurance to everyone, regardless of their health, allowing lots of unhealthy people to enroll, lower premiums, and hope for the best. I’m actually in favor of providing a base level of care for every citizen, but this setup was never going to be financially sustainable without lots of additional taxes to subsidize the system. P.S. I’m not saying I have a silver bullet…I don’t…lots of variables.

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  • Michael

    So How do I buy this shared insurance?

  • David Appleby

    Hi Louise,

    We did it!! After years of considering a Self Directed Health Care System, we finally got up the courage to get out of this ridiculous system that the US Government has created. Feels great. Thank you for publishing this post. Samaritan Ministries has been so accomodating. I wish I would have done this years ago. God Bless.

  • Pingback: A Better Alternative to Health Insurance (Really!) | wchildblog

  • Anonymous

    We were really looking into Samaritan, but after meeting the owner at a conference, he was so rude it was a turn off. May look into some of the other suggestions.

    • Profile photo of Louise Kuo Habakus
      Louise Kuo Habakus

      Hi, Anonymous. My mouth is agape as I’m reading your comment. I’ve been a member for nearly two years. I’ve actively interacted with Samaritan for over a year with a significant medical need. Everyone has been warm, knowledgeable, and eager to help. I have never, not once, interacted with anyone who was remotely cold or distant, let alone actively rude. I’m so sorry you had a bad experience but it is not representative of the company.

      By the way, Samaritan is a non-profit organization that operates under a religious exemption to Obamacare. Money is sent member to member as charitable gifts. Samaritan is exceptionally well-run and its executives receive a fair, living wage — nothing remotely like the obscene corporate compensation of health insurance companies.

      This the very best decision — religious, values-centered, philosophical, financial, health-focused — I could’ve made for my family and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. I hope you find something that works out similarly for you.

  • Maya Shetreat-Klein, MD via Facebook

    This is what I’m recommending for my employees…

  • Kathleen DiChiara via Facebook

    My husband only offers Health Sharing for his employees (accounting firm) and it’s what we use for our family. Best. Decision. #optout

  • John Greally via Facebook

    In New Zealand, each citizen pays US$209 a month. All healthcare is free, no eligibility criteria, no form-filling applications, all children covered also. US$4 per prescription – free after US$75. No need for medical insurance. All accidents covered for free. US$25 to see a ‘GP’ or general practitioner doctor.

    You can call that socialism, but so is the fire engine, the police, and the military. Best to keep your neighbours healthy and get them back to work to pay taxes. Otherwise a fire, a crime, a disease, or a war soon jump the fence, eh.

    • Steve Sundberg via Facebook

      Too many Americans are still too mercantile-oriented to toss off the profit-at-any-cost capitalist yoke for a warm, socialist blanket.

  • Alison Fujito via Facebook

    Still waiting for PA to stop intentionally blocking the option. ☹️

  • Amy Morton Brain via Facebook

    Mygreensurance.com healthshare that pays for conventional and alternative care. With a Health Savings Account, You may even pay the low $1500 deductible with before tax dollars.

    • Liz Schmidt via Facebook

      I looked at the GreenSurance website and there are typos and several of the links/pages I tried to access are not working. I’m curious, Amy Morton Brain, if you have used this company?

    • Natalia Learns via Facebook

      I, too, would love to find out more info! We are suffocating with our current plan, and looking for a health-share plan. GreenSurance looks great at the first glance, I’d love to hear about your experience with it!

  • Amy Rozen via Facebook

    Thanks for posting. I’m going to look into this. Our current deductibles are so high, and we have no coverage for alternative medicine, which we actually use.

  • Melissa Hagerman Lewis via Facebook

    I’m so wanting to go to health sharing since we pay out of pocket but the cap scares me a little…

    • Louise Kuo Habakus

      We use Samaritan Ministries’ optional Save to Share program, which largely addresses the cap. Read my two posts carefully. My husband was very concerned at first — we really scrutinized this. Just do an old-fashioned pro/con list and see where you come out (imo, “con” is the right word for insurance)

      • Melissa Hagerman Lewis via Facebook

        thanks! we have been looking into Liberty Health Share, since we are not Christians we wouldn’t qualify for Samaritan ;( Their cap is $1million and nothing above that. Believe me, this is the only con on our list. And, its just fear based, I just have to let go of that. We’ve been paying $1,200/month for the past 18 months. Its totally insane and will only go up.

        • Anonymous

          Hi Melissa,
          Wondering if you could report back on Liberty Health Share? Did you end up getting it? And if so, what has your experience been?

          After receiving a recent letter from my health insurer, with increases in my premium, I am finally deciding to exit! Now, I just need to find the right health share plan.
          I am not a practicing Christian, but I believe in all faiths, and in spirit, and in Jesus Christ as well, but we mostly identify as Buddhists. Which of these groups will take us?
          If its only Liberty, then I’d love to hear more from those that have recently enrolled in that, to hear experiences, procedures, etc. Thanks!

  • Dean Jensen via Facebook

    I will check it out – our premium for 2017 quote??? Up over 100%!!! Thanks, ObamaCare for royally screwing me again – I just love you guys!!!

    PS – we’re healthy, no pre-existing conditions and they want us to pay $1,000 per month now – a $6,000 per annum increase!!!

  • Josh Guy via Facebook

    I know this may trigger an argument but can’t see how Obama Care is actually helping not hindering people when it is going down like the titanic and sinking fast.

    • Dean Jensen via Facebook

      And these are just the premiums – the Admin never talks about the deductibles – the amount people have to pay out of pocket before health insurance coverage kicks in. For many people, this is $5,000 – $7,000+. So, huge increase in premium AND out of pockets costs – we’ve been sold out.

  • Andrea Egeresi via Facebook

    thank you!

  • Andrea Kelly via Facebook

    I’ve been looking into samaritan ministries for some time now… nervous to do it for some reason.

    • Louise Kuo Habakus via Facebook

      We were nervous, too, and delayed for a long time. This is just part of the process of opting out of structures and institutions that no longer serve our needs. It doesn’t unfold on the same timeline for everyone but it’s increasingly happening, everywhere we look. Homeschooling. CSAs/food co-ops. Alternative medicine. etc etc

  • Jock William Doubleday via Facebook

    Obamarape, or “Obamacare,” was meant to bankrupt America. Thank goodness most people simply ignored this unconstitutional and unlawful healthcare mandate written by the Rothschild insurance companies.

  • Renee Smith via Facebook

    Took the plunge, love Samaritan Ministries

  • Joel Bremson via Facebook

    How is Samaritan on pre-existing conditions?

    • Louise Kuo Habakus via Facebook

      It depends but obviously they have them. You have to read the terms and conditions very carefully and then speak with a rep. They are incredibly helpful. There are specific rules for cancer and heart disease. I wrote this in my follow up blog: If you have a pre-existing condition, don’t rule Samaritan out. The limitation applies to the specific diagnosis. For example, you will not be permitted to publish expenses for the Lyme disease that was diagnosed two years ago. You would, however, be able to submit them as a Special Prayer Need. This means that members may voluntarily send checks to help defray non-publishable expenses. And they do. Further, if you develop something else, say hypothyroidism or severe allergies, even if it’s precipitated by the Lyme disease, that’s a separate medical need and expenses for that need can be published.

  • Joel Bremson via Facebook

    How serious are they about the religious requirements?

  • Jennifer Lee via Facebook

    great place for info on opting out.

  • Victoria Baker via Facebook

    Thank you Louise, you are such a blessing!

  • D'Arcy Mackenzie via Facebook

    It’s hard for me, as a Canadian to get my head around all of this: the single payer systems has its virtues. It also reminds me of how Americans live on the frontlines of a kind of war. Is it fair to say that one of the major priorities of US health care is to provide investment ioncome for pensions, retirement plans, and investors in general, especially foreign investors?

    • Joel Bremson via Facebook

      Yes. It’s a GDP and income generator. Lots of Wall Street bets are placed on high medical sector revenues. The lobbyists work the legislators to make it so.

      • D'Arcy Mackenzie via Facebook

        And I suspect importantly a major attraction for foreign capital , as the US needs the capital inflow to offset the trade deficit, that keeps the cost of consumer products down.

    • Scott Johnson via Facebook

      It’s why I’m working hard to get out out of this fraudulent profession as soon as I can.

  • Anabel Carey via Facebook

    Canada and the U.S. need to learn from other countries how to run very successfully health care systems. For example France, Britain etc, etc!!!

  • Jenny Davis-Orrender via Facebook

    Might be cheaper to pay the fines and medical expenses as you go. Put it all in an emergency fund.

  • Eleni Kits via Facebook

    thank you for the info, I met u tonight at Vaxxed in Union City first time was 8 years ago you gave a talk at a bar in hoboken and opend my eyes. Im the NJAICV District leader for Jersey City – thank you for your dedication for coming out tonight and all the priceless info you post. See you at Red Bank on 24th got my tickets today!

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