Author Topic: Health Insurance Alternatives  (Read 21954 times)

Offline mr_freezer

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 35
  • Karma: 9
  • New TSP Forum member
Health Insurance Alternatives
« on: February 03, 2015, 11:50:25 AM »
Greetings,

I don't want this to turn into a rant thread so I'm going to make the background brief:  Our family is looking for an affordable alternative to our current health insurance.  We are a family of 5 with younger kids.  I am not interested in the government options, I choose freedom.

I'll start with what I have found, Christian health sharing programs.  "This isn't for everyone..." I hear that a lot, the question is why not...  Here is what I have learned through my limited research:

These organizations are growing almost exponentially at every new stage of Obamacare implementation.  That is probably a good thing but sometimes, such rapid growth can be a problem. 

The Good:
1. Price:  Presently, we are spending over $15K/yr on premiums.  The Christian Sharing programs, top end coverage, run about $5500 +/- per year. 
2. Money goes directly to those in need.  In 2 of the 5 groups, you send your monthly contribution directly to the person with the medical bill, along with a prayer for them.  You know where your money is going and it isn't down a rat hole.
3. Deductibles are lower (thousands in my case) or are turned into per incident maximums.  i.e. broken arm, you pay $300 - $500, the rest is taken care of by the group.  They also have protections for you if you have too many incidents or rack up an inordinate number of small bills though you may have to plead your case.  I've seen a lot of really positive info on this angle, it sounds like they try to take care of their own on this subject.
4. Stay out of the government system, handing over personal info just to check and see what they have for options, no applying for subsidies... It resembles freedom, how refreshing.
5. Make sure the organization is in fact a legal option to Obamacare.  The ones I've looked at are so I'm including this as a positive.  No IRS fines, you're legally OK, you are covered and you don't contribute directly to propping up Obamacre. 

The mixed:
1. If you don't seek medical care for every little thing, you are rewarded in a system like this.
2. Ethics - The membership has to live a healthier, religiously founded style life.  This can be a problem for some people who do live good, healthy and ethical lives but are technically disqualified because they aren't traditional type Christians.  Abortions aren't covered, which is important to a lot of people. 
3. Preexisting conditions usually aren't covered but some are.  You have to find out what is and isn't.  Example, cancer may be covered if you are cleared and untreated for 7 years.  They are in this to keep costs down and this is how
4. Some levels have limiting lifetime maximums for costs, but it isn't much of a cost increase to take care of most of that issue by stepping up to the highest level.  They all sound like they try to have protections in place for people with truly catastrophic problems.

The Bad:
1. There may be some disqualifying factors that are deal breakers for you.  I'm trying to get clarification for example, from one group who, by the sounds of it, won't cover people while they are at work, including self-employed... that wouldn't work for us as we farm.
2. Know the things that are/aren't covered very, very well and ask questions, don't assume.  The people I have talked to from these organizations are very clear when I have asked questions about coverage. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, however, one organization won't pay for the ambulance or chopper ride to the hospital and since we are very rural, this is something we need to be aware of going into this. FYI, they do cover a chopper/ambulance from one treatment center to another if necessary.
3. That same group has very sharp penalties for late/missing shares (monthly/annual payments) and perhaps the others are that way too.  I'm not advocating delinquency but stuff can happen and if that throws you out of the system, that can be devastating depending on your situation.  I have no idea what their appeal systems are like but it  needs a mention.
4.Government rules won't let you use an HSA (Health Savings Account) in conjunction with these programs.  There is a bill hiding in someone's desk in Congress to fix that but nobody is holding their breath.  We currently have an HSA and I need clarification on my options for using the funds already in there.  I can't believe I wouldn't have access to those that are already there but... you know government.

Well, that's probably enough to start with.  Please help me if you know anything, we are close to making the decision to go this route and I have more info to share, I can list the groups I have looked at in my next post and talk about what I have learned about each if there is interest. If there are other options out there, I'd like to know about them too.


Offline mnotlyon

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 245
  • Karma: 11
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 05:53:09 PM »
We've just been through the same thought process that you are currently in. In January we started with Samaritan Ministries. So far, we haven't had any problem with them cashing our checks. I hope not to find out if it works like it's supposed to. :)

I know a number of people that have  used them for over a decade. One of them has been diagnosed with parkinson's disease AND bladder cancer. They told me everything was paid exactly as the plan describes.


Bonnieblue2A

  • Guest
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 08:08:45 PM »
Is it still possible to go to a private insurance broker and self-insure your family?  I am still self-insured with a high deductible plan (HSA qualified).  I was told that Obamacare would eliminate it since it is really "catastrophic only coverage. But, it appears it was grandfathered in for one more year per the insuring company (BC/BS)/

Offline fred.greek

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 768
  • Karma: 41
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2015, 03:20:00 PM »
For those who want to, I see no rational reason why individuals / families cannot create a "health savings account (HSA) with a supplemental "catastrophic" policy outside the HSA funds.  Every year there are no major expenses, the HSA grows, reducing the catastrophic policy needs. 

We typically do not have billed each year medical costs that reach what we pay in health insurance…

Offline mnotlyon

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 245
  • Karma: 11
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2015, 03:40:14 PM »
Is it still possible to go to a private insurance broker and self-insure your family?  I am still self-insured with a high deductible plan (HSA qualified).  I was told that Obamacare would eliminate it since it is really "catastrophic only coverage. But, it appears it was grandfathered in for one more year per the insuring company (BC/BS)/

Yep, it's still possible. However, the insurance that is offered must meet obamacare guidelines. That's what I had, and wanted to keep. My policy was canceled, and replaced with one that had a 20% higher deductible, and a 90% higher premium. I simply couldn't afford to pay nearly $1,000 per month for insurance that covered NOTHING until I had $12,000 out of pocket.

Offline ResidentCelt

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 212
  • Karma: 8
  • Doing my best on 1/3 acre
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2015, 03:52:59 PM »
4.Government rules won't let you use an HSA (Health Savings Account) in conjunction with these programs.

You can't use your HSA to make the "premium" payments, but as far as I understand it you get paid directly by other members and then pay your healthcare providers in cash.

There shouldn't be anything prohibiting you from either depositing the received money into the HSA and then paying the doc out of that, OR (more likely) paying out of your HSA to the doc and getting "reimbursed" from the healthshare org. Either way, money goes into the HSA from you (legit up to $6750/yr I think unless you're older, yada yada) and then money goes out of the HSA to the doctor/hospital which is the type of activity allowed by IRS rules.

Offline r_w

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1262
  • Karma: 35
  • On my way
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2015, 05:27:18 PM »
The HSA gotchas that I know of are:

medical sharing ministry does not qualify as a plan so you can't keep contributing to an hsa.

The money in the account is vested and you can continue to use it until it runs out, but you may be charged extra administrative fees to keep the account open. 

Offline kmorgan

  • Fledgling Prepper
  • *
  • Posts: 3
  • Karma: 1
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2015, 09:45:51 PM »
You can pay cash for medical treatment and it need not be prohibitively expensive but this option is only for those in areas with a strong immigrant (read: illegal immigrant( population: "clinica medicos" offices. These are privately run/owned physician offices who's clientele is made up of poor immigrants who can/do only pay cash. I had a mini-physical required for a job I applied for and total cost (2014 dollars) 40.00. That's right- forty US dollars. No insurance. I know we've all heard of cheap Mexican dentists, but this is in USA. Anyway just tossing this out there- frequent lurker, I don't post very much but the family was just discussing this very topic today so I thought I'd toss this in.

Offline mnotlyon

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 245
  • Karma: 11
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2015, 08:23:23 AM »
The HSA gotchas that I know of are:

medical sharing ministry does not qualify as a plan so you can't keep contributing to an hsa.

The money in the account is vested and you can continue to use it until it runs out, but you may be charged extra administrative fees to keep the account open.

Yes, this is the way I understand it too. I can't continue to contribute to my HSA, but I can use it till the money is gone.

Thankfully, I saw this coming last year when they canceled my policy, then said, "oh wait, you can keep it for one more year if you pay an extra 20%. So, I kept it for another year, and socked away the max they'd let me put in for the year.

Now, I've got almost $7,000 left in that account. That should take care of my medical bills for a few years. In the mean time, I'm taking the money that I was putting aside in my HSA and investing it into my (and my wife's) Roth IRA. My hope is that I can cash flow my medical bills with the help of my healthcare sharing from Samaritan Ministries. If not, I can grab some money from my Roth without penalty.

It's not a perfect plan, but if we stay healthy for a while, it should allow us to cover our bills, and retire on something better than alpo and 9 lives. Assuming of course we can keep the government's hands off of our savings. :(

Offline Kayakmom

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 79
  • Karma: 6
  • Happy to be here.
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2015, 09:14:03 AM »
We have been members of Liberty Health Share for awhile-we chose this one as it seems to be the least restrictive on it's lifestyle restrictions.  The OP has a good assessment of pros and cons.  I would add that insurance (although this is technically NOT insurance) shouldn't cover a lot of the stuff that the health share ministries don't cover.  I'm not a big fan of having to pay for other peoples' bad choices.
We did have a claim last month (daughter broke her finger) and they are paying for what they said they would.
So far we couldn't be happier.
And yes, we aren't the kind to run to the doctor over every little inconvenience (as is so common these days) so it works great for us.

Offline mr_freezer

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 35
  • Karma: 9
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2015, 11:15:53 AM »
Samaritan is the one that we feel fits our situation best after doing our research.  A friend of ours has been with Christian Healthcare Ministries for about a year but hasn't had any medical needs to address.  His words to me were, "They genuinely believe in what they are doing and treat this like a Ministry." 

Not being an expert in the medical cost department, the obvious concern is if there is a really bad event that costs a fortune, how well that can be covered.  The hospital we have used in the past has told us that they have a flat 8% discount for uninsured/cash clients.  I don't know how expensive some procedures or treatments are but I just want to know that our family is going to be taken care of.  I see on a blog that Samaritan has had a $1.5 million need (claim) that Samaritan negotiated down to $700k and fully shared (covered) for the individual.  That seems pretty comprehensive. 

mnotlyon - I don't know the first thing about self-insuring.  I like that it is HSA qualified but the fact that Obamacare is supposed to eliminate that option makes me thankful for your situation that you may have been grandfathered in but not so optimistic that we could start that now.  My gut is telling me that we don't have the resources to self-insure but like I said, I know nothing about it.  I do know that for what we are paying now for premiums and heaven forbid if we need to spend up to our deductible, it wouldn't take long to build up to self insure.  Can you give us an idea of how that works?

Offline mr_freezer

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 35
  • Karma: 9
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2015, 11:39:20 AM »
I looked at Liberty Healthshare and unfortunately, it probably can't work for us.  They stated in their guidelines some restrictions that sounded like they wouldn't cover self-employed while "at work." I asked for an information packet and then found that out.  I got an email from someone there that they were going to do a follow up phone call.  I replied to the individual's email address, inquiring about that angle, since we are self-employed and haven't heard back yet, though it has only been 3 days or so.  Glad to hear that they are working for you, though.  I did see that they were more inclusive / less restrictive for their membership qualifications.

Offline mr_freezer

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 35
  • Karma: 9
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2015, 12:40:21 PM »
Breakdown of our research for a family of any size incl. Mom, Dad and any number of children, yes, any number:

Skewing for our personal needs, here is the information that I found out while doing our research.

Liberty Healthshare:
+ Less restrictive behavioral/belief requirements
+ End of Life assistance.  Should a family member die, you can receive assistance in costs between $3k-$10k
+ They will cover (share) life flight/ambulance to the hospital
- Doesn't look like they cover any workplace incident, even if you are self-employed... (I will update if this is wrong, SEE #40 under Expenses not eligible for sharing in their 2014 Guidelines.)
- Not much coverage for ATV incidents, understandable but bad for us.
+/- seems like there is some sort of limbo state you can be put in if you miss your monthly share contribution.
* Looks like a deductible type system for paying costs out of pocket, pretty simple and what most people are used to with low deductibles compared to what I'm seeing with my insurance at least.  i.e. $1500.
*ALL emergency hospital admissions & Maternity admissions MUST be reported within 48 hrs of admission to be eligible for sharing (coverage). 

Medi-Share (Christian Care Ministry or CCM):
+ Have an extensive network of care providers that they have negotiated rates with to get significant discounts with.  You should be able to get this info from them prior to joining, I would assume.
+ I believe they are the largest of the groups but I could be wrong about that.
- They encourage but don't require Medicaid and other assistance participation, to keep rates down no doubt.  For us, it was a negative, for others it may not be. 
- What led us away from them was a statement that we were required to cooperate with Medi-Share to pursue claims against property owners for injuries on their property due to negligence etc.  Just don't like the sounds of that... Am I supposed to side with them against my parents for example??? NOTE: I haven't gotten any clarification on that.  I stopped reading their packet after that.
* have system that looks and feels like a deductible system.  For the amount you put in, the deductibles are really low, as low as $1500 for a $630/mo. plan (can be $505/mo. if you are tested healthy)

Christian Healthcare Ministries (CHM):
+ States "Unlimited" coverage with their top program for thins that they do share/cover (which amounts to $472/mo.  including Brother's Keeper program)
+ Different family members can be on different program levels, it is extremely flexible.
+ I know someone who has been in this program for about a year now.  They haven't had any claims but believe this organization is sincere in their mission.
+/- $500 per incident "deductible", if you have any single need that cost over $500, you pay the $500 and  they cover everything else.  If you then have a need under $500, they don't cover that etc. 
+ See any doctor, no network you have to stick to.  WOW...
- Do not cover/share ambulance ride to the hospital.  They do cover ambulance/life flight from hospital to hospital if needed.  This was an issue for us, we are quite rural.
- more limited in what they cover than Samaritan regarding alternative medicine.
+/- Must keep current with your $ inputs to be eligible, makes sense.


Samaritan Ministries International:
+Lowest monthly cost, $439.50 for highest coverage (includes Save to Share add on and admin for Save to Share)
+ Lowest per incident cost, $300 per incident with 3 large incident max out of pocket per year.  You can also negotiate with care providers and possibly reduce your $300 out of pocket down all the way to $0 on these per incident costs.
+ Samaritan looks to cover more than CHM, including ambulance & Life Flights to hospital.
+ As long as you are lawfully using them and not being irresponsible, they cover ATV accidents and farming and other self employed accidents.
+ They make a point of not requiring or making you consider applying for assistance, medicaid or other.
+ You see whatever doctor you choose...  No network what so ever, just like CHM.
+/- must keep current with sharing (monthly sharing $) to be eligible to receive shares from other members
+/- This for us, is a plus.  You send your money directly to someone who has a bill that needs to be paid. Someone on a blog thought it might leave you susceptible to fraudulent use of your bank account.  Possible and something to consider.  We may open an account specifically for this reason if we go with Samaritan.


There is a lot more.  I've read through hundreds of pages of info to make these lists.  Any comments on this are welcomed and anything that needs correcting, I apologize for and thank you for the correction.



Offline r_w

  • Dedicated Contributor
  • ******
  • Posts: 1262
  • Karma: 35
  • On my way
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2015, 02:30:23 PM »
If you are worried about fraud, you can open a special account or get a money order, whichever is easier.  I have no worries about those enrolled, but there is a risk just having checks floating everywhere. 

A huge thank you for making that list. 

Offline mr_freezer

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 35
  • Karma: 9
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2015, 07:12:29 AM »
You're welcome.  I hope this helps other people going through a similar decision making process.  Another FYI for everyone reading, these groups have pricing systems on their websites that are about as simple as it can get.  You can quote yourself in seconds. 

Offline Zef_66

  • Survivalist Mentor
  • *****
  • Posts: 572
  • Karma: 23
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #15 on: February 06, 2015, 10:54:07 AM »
Thanks for posting all this info. It is a great reference that I may need to use in the future. My wife carries the health insurance right now. We are considering her being a stay at home mom, or changing positions to a completely different area. So insurance may and probably will change. So I may be coming back to this thread.

Thanks again!

Offline mr_freezer

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 35
  • Karma: 9
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #16 on: February 06, 2015, 02:09:17 PM »
Our family has decided to go with Samaritan Ministries.  We genuinely like the fact that we send our monthly contributions directly to someone who has a medical bill that needs to be met.  We think that it will be a great experience for us and for our kids to get involved with.  We have been blessed without a lot of preexisting conditions and believe we can afford our dental (hurrah for dental floss) and vision bills (we are saddled with contacts and glasses) with the many thousands of dollars we are going to save and the money we put in our HSA to date.  We have until April to put money into our HSA for calendar 2014 and with Samaritan's plan, we don't have the huge deductible to burn through should there be an incident so our HSA reserve might last longer.  One week ago I was seriously stressed, thinking that we might have to layer ourselves in bubble wrap and hope for the best but now, I'm actually looking forward to the change.

Thank you for all who have contributed thus far and don't be shy if you haven't already done so or have more.  The more of us who have knowledge about these programs and share, the more confidence we can all have in our decisions one way or the other.

I'll comment on the application process if there is interest in that as well.

Offline ResidentCelt

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 212
  • Karma: 8
  • Doing my best on 1/3 acre
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #17 on: February 09, 2015, 11:02:09 AM »
Breakdown of our research for a family of any size incl. Mom, Dad and any number of children, yes, any number:
[...]

WOW. Thanks mr_freezer, that's super helpful.

Also, I was unaware of the HSA disqualification if you don't have an HSA plan also. That's annoying.

Should still be able to do the tax deduction for medical expenses over xx% of AGI with the health-share plans I would think. Anyone have experience with this?

Offline mnotlyon

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 245
  • Karma: 11
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2015, 04:55:25 PM »

mnotlyon - I don't know the first thing about self-insuring.  I like that it is HSA qualified but the fact that Obamacare is supposed to eliminate that option makes me thankful for your situation that you may have been grandfathered in but not so optimistic that we could start that now.  My gut is telling me that we don't have the resources to self-insure but like I said, I know nothing about it.  I do know that for what we are paying now for premiums and heaven forbid if we need to spend up to our deductible, it wouldn't take long to build up to self insure.  Can you give us an idea of how that works?

I'm not really self insuring.

Last year, and the year before I was in a high deductible ($10,000) insurance plan that qualified us to use an HSA (health savings account). HSAs let you put some money into a special account pre tax to be used for medical bills. I put the maximum allowed by law into my HSA for two years. It cost me about $400 a month for the insurance the first year, and it raised to a little over $600 a month when Obama care started to kick in. This year, the deductible raised to $12,000 and the premiums raised to almost $1,000 per month.

The first year I had the HSA plan, I paid $400 for the insurance, and about $550 a month into the HSA. We were mostly healthy, so it worked well for us. The next year, we had some expenses that we had to cover. We still put in the $550 a month. By the end of the 2nd year, we had about $6,000 left in the HSA after paying our medical bills.

This year, I decided that $1,000 a month for insurance that covers NOTHING until you spend $12,000 just wouldn't fit our budget any more. So, we switched to Samaritan Ministries. This costs us a little over $400 per month, and "covers" us if we have medical expenses over $300 per incident.

We still have around $6,000 in our HSA that we can use for medical expenses, but since we don't have HSA approved health insurance any more, we can't add to it. So, instead, I'm adding the max to our Roth IRA's (just over $900 per month). Once the HSA runs out, I'm hoping I can cover the $300 per medical incident from my checking account, if for some reason I can't, I should have a large Roth IRA I can tap into.

Handling our health care like this insures we will have money set aside for emergencies, and if emergencies don't come, we should have a nice retirement nest egg.

Offline mnotlyon

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 245
  • Karma: 11
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2015, 05:03:53 PM »
WOW. Thanks mr_freezer, that's super helpful.

Also, I was unaware of the HSA disqualification if you don't have an HSA plan also. That's annoying.

Should still be able to do the tax deduction for medical expenses over xx% of AGI with the health-share plans I would think. Anyone have experience with this?

I don't think you can deduct medical expenses if the money was reimbursed to you. If I remember correctly, you can deduct medical expenses that you paid in excess of 7% of your adjusted gross income. So, if you made $50,000 last year, your medical expenses that weren't reimbursed would have to be over $3500 before you get a tax write off.

Offline ResidentCelt

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 212
  • Karma: 8
  • Doing my best on 1/3 acre
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2015, 07:36:19 AM »
Fair, I was thinking of the "premiums" though - IRS Pub 502 says you can deduct insurance premiums that are paid with after-tax dollars. So any premiums plus the per-incident deductible should get you to the (now 10% according to TurboTax) threshold.

Offline mnotlyon

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 245
  • Karma: 11
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2015, 10:54:28 AM »
Fair, I was thinking of the "premiums" though - IRS Pub 502 says you can deduct insurance premiums that are paid with after-tax dollars. So any premiums plus the per-incident deductible should get you to the (now 10% according to TurboTax) threshold.

Hmm. I wasn't aware you could deduct premiums. My taxes have become very complicated, so I haven't done them myself for many years.

Offline ResidentCelt

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 212
  • Karma: 8
  • Doing my best on 1/3 acre
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #22 on: February 10, 2015, 02:07:36 PM »
You can only deduct premiums if you pay them yourself with aftertax dollars. Employer-paid premiums or pre-tax paycheck deductions for premiums don't count.

Also, this is only what the IRS says. As we all know, the IRS is not a citable authority in tax court.

Offline mr_freezer

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 35
  • Karma: 9
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #23 on: February 16, 2015, 05:43:27 PM »
UPDATE:  We signed up for Samaritan on the 11th using the online sign up.  We were members right there on the spot from what I understand.  I called them up the 13th and confirmed that.  There is a form that our pastor needed to complete to verify our Christian background and commitment.  As long as that was sent in and received within 10 days, the membership will continue to be active.  Done.  I then went over to the insurance company and cancelled our health insurance...  They weren't surprised.  They are seeing a number of people who are coming in and cancelling because of the premiums and just telling him they are going without.  I think this was mentioned earlier but with looming penalties for going without insurance, it is nice to know that we are now exempt from Obamacare, will not be fined. 

So, we are officially counted among the ranks of the uninsured.  What a joke.  We feel really good about our healthcare situation for the first time in many years.  I hope others can find an exemption like we did or another path that works for them.  I'm going to post another thread on our experience comparing a cash clinic to what we were used to within our insurance system's plan.

Offline ResidentCelt

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 212
  • Karma: 8
  • Doing my best on 1/3 acre
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #24 on: March 09, 2015, 09:22:16 PM »
You can only deduct premiums if you pay them yourself with aftertax dollars. Employer-paid premiums or pre-tax paycheck deductions for premiums don't count.

Also, this is only what the IRS says. As we all know, the IRS is not a citable authority in tax court.

...AND IRS instructions for form 8889 (HSAs) contradicts my previous statement about HSAs and deductions. Premiums can ONLY be payed with HSA if you are on unemployment, if you're paying for long-term-care, if you're paying for extension plans like COBRA, or Medicare premiums (but not Medigap and the like). It seems like you still might be able to itemize premiums on schedule A though (subject to 10% threshold and all that)

Gotta love the IRS.  :banghead:

Offline mr_freezer

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 35
  • Karma: 9
  • New TSP Forum member
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2015, 09:36:08 PM »
UPDATE!!!

Since healthcare costs have been in the news again because of skyrocketing rates, I thought it would be a good time to do an update and pull this to the top of the pile again.

This will be our fifth month now as members with Samaritan Ministries after dropping standard health insurance.  The first 3 monthly shares (the monthly money that we send as opposed to a monthly insurance premium) went to the organization to pay for administrative costs and from now on, only one share per year will go to supporting the organization.  The rest of the time, we will send our monthly share directly to someone with a medical bill that needs to be paid as a gift which alleviates any tax liability to both the giver and the receiver.  To date, we have sent money directly to a couple expecting twins and a guy who is battling leukemia along with encouraging words and a card.  Wow, it feels great to help someone every month.  Paying my premiums to our former insurance company didn't feel like this...  It helps our humanity.   

We haven't had to ask for help, thank God, but we are confident that it would come if we did have need.  It takes faith in your fellow man to make a jump like this but it gives you faith too when you start giving to people that they will give back when you are in need.   

We have also given to a strictly voluntary program that they have every month called "Special Prayer Needs" where people who have bills that would be shared among the members except that say they were preexisting or aren't normally shared like massive dental work.  That has been an extra $20 per month for us though we could give any amount to help those people.  Extra assurance for those who may be on the fence. 

You may not believe this: Last month, the needs of all the members were less than the total of all the shares to be sent out so every member was asked for 5% less than normal...  Let that sink in for a second...  When was the last time an insurance company said, we had less expenses than what we normally have so this month, you get a 5% discount on your premium.  No kidding, that's what happened. 

When I was doing my research for this move, I wanted to be absolutely certain of what I was doing.  I take my responsibility to my family's well being seriously.  I found nothing bad about this group and I dug and dug to be sure.  In fact, a local, trusted doctor also confirmed that Samaritan is a good group.  Go ahead and ask some medical doctors, I encourage it.  I don't know how many of them know about this but if that's what it takes to help convince you, go ask.

We were not good church attendees before we joined but have since been going to church regularly.  This was a requirement and yes, it has been good for us as a family.  We have become closer to other families and our kids are identifying better with their faith.  We have always stressed the importance of God to them though prayer and stories but  going to church does make a difference.  We talked with our pastor before we joined and he sent a letter to Samaritan explaining our situation.  We believe that God was at work here helping to give us this "nudge." 

We even enjoy the newsletter that comes every month.  I hardly ever read organizational newsletters but this one contains articles for freedom loving people so I read it.  That also is a testimonial to the core values of those people who make up Samaritan Ministries in my mind. 

Though we haven't had to test this from the receiving end yet, I believe this was the best move we could have made and we are thankful that it was available for us to find.  The main caution I have for you is that you should look at the guidelines to make sure you are qualified and then call them to ask about any potential problems.  They are very upfront, honest and their guidelines are straight forward and pretty dang clear in this era of legal mumbo jumbo.

Best regards to you all!


Offline mnotlyon

  • Senior Survivalist
  • ****
  • Posts: 245
  • Karma: 11
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #26 on: June 17, 2015, 11:00:41 AM »
As an additional update; There is a push to allow this type of medical sharing to participate in Health Savings Accounts as well.

I like Samaritan much better than a government answer to health care, but I'd take the tax break if I could get it.


Offline Mental Arson

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 62
  • Karma: 6
  • Live as people determined to be free.
    • MentalArson.com
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #27 on: March 28, 2016, 05:56:39 PM »
Liberty Health Share was discussed in an episode around the beginning of June, 2014.
I've done multiple searches and scanned the archives, but can't find the episode.
Any chance anyone has a reference to that episode in their notes?

Offline Never2L8

  • Fledgling Prepper
  • *
  • Posts: 9
  • Karma: 1
  • TSP Forum member
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #28 on: April 13, 2016, 05:30:49 PM »
Two weeks ago, I found myself unemployed with only two days remaining on my employer-provided health insurance.  In a mad rush, I signed up for Health Insurance with the Health Insurance Marketplace (Georgia).

My monthly premium for a family of three adults, before tax credit, would have been over $ 1,200 for the plan with a $ 6,450 individual deductible ( $ 12,900 for family).  With the tax credit, I am still looking at a premium almost twice the premium of the share programs mentioned in this thread.  From what I can gather, in my plan you have to pay everything 'up front', and submit paperwork to count toward the deductible.  I cannot find anything about negotiated payment schedules with the physician, nor anything about a co-pay.  From what I gather, I am paying way too much for only a catastrophic (major medical) health plan.

I need to dig a little deeper into the share programs, and also to see what I need to do to get out of the Marketplace plan.

Has anyone been able to separate from a Marketplace policy?


Offline Mental Arson

  • Prepper
  • **
  • Posts: 62
  • Karma: 6
  • Live as people determined to be free.
    • MentalArson.com
Re: Health Insurance Alternatives
« Reply #29 on: April 13, 2016, 06:09:35 PM »
I have employer coverage, but my wife doesn't, and it would cost $360 to add her to my policy. She's healthy and rarely goes to the doctor.
We signed up for Medi-Share and paid for her $50 application fee.
However, before we fully enrolled we backed up and carefully examined all the options again.

We just signed her up for LibertyHealthShare.org and her first month will be May, 2016.

Why did we pick Liberty?

$500 annual deductible for single.
https://libertyhealthshare.org/3-program-options
https://libertyhealthshare.org/faq

$199 gets her 100% coverage over $500 up to $1M per incident. ($449/mo per family)
https://libertyhealthshare.org/how-reimbursement-works

Preventative care is included.
https://libertyhealthshare.org/summary-of-sharing

"EMS" Discount program enrollment is included...which is for Envision Medical Solutions not Emergency Medical Services

Quote
Do I have a deductible or co-pay?
Liberty HealthShare does not have deductibles or co-pays since we are a medical cost sharing ministry. However, with each medical expense you submit for sharing, there is an annual first dollar amount that members have agreed to not share together. We call it our Annual Unshared Amount. The Annual Unshared Amount accumulates throughout your membership year, and is $500 for a single, $1000 for a couple, and $1500 for a family. When your eligible medical expenses exceed the Annual Unshared Amount during the year, then sharing commences. If you are enrolled in Envision Medical Solutions, your expenses are shared at 100% up to your program’s limit. If you have chosen not to enroll in EMS, then your bills are shared at 70% up to your program’s limit.

Signing up was quick and painless.
I'll report back if I have a good/bad experience with a claim.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2016, 06:17:56 PM by Mental Arson »