Today’s blog post is a bit different, a collection of items that don’t necessarily justify a full blog post or that represent some sort of ‘housekeeping’ item that I wanted to bring to my readers’ attention. Without further ado, here goes.
I’ve received a number of inquiries and comments about Liberty HealthShare, raising two issues. One is asking whether they do in fact qualify as a health care sharing organization whose members are exempt from Obamacare’s tax on the uninsured, the second has to do with whether they are still open to non-Christians.
Currently on Liberty’s web site, they have a statement up saying that they believe they meet Obamacare’s criteria for the exemption, but they are seeking confirmation for that from the federal government. The question apparently revolves around how long they have been in existence, the web site says since 1990 so that shouldn’t be a problem, but the complicating factor seems to be that they were primarily a ‘death benefits’ ministry with some medical sharing operations as well. Bottom line, it’s impossible for me to say at this point that members of Liberty HealthShare will be exempt from Obamacare’s tax on the uninsured.
In the event they don’t receive confirmation that their members are exempt, that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t an option. Even after paying the tax (if you’re not eligible for another exemption, and have a tax refund it can be taken from), it might still be a better deal for some compared to what is available in the conventional health insurance market.
As for membership eligibility, when I first wrote about Liberty HealthShare I noted that they were open to members of any or no faith, they simply required an agreement with their view on religious liberty. The language on their web site has since changed and appears to be more specific to Christians. The key requirement is that members must agree with the following statement of belief:
- We believe that our personal rights and liberties originate from God and are bestowed on us by God, and are not concessions granted to us by governments or men.
- We believe every individual has a fundamental religious right to worship the God of the Bible in his or her own way.
- We believe it is our biblical and ethical obligation to assist our fellow man when they are in need according to our available resources and opportunity.
- We believe it is our spiritual duty to God and our ethical duty to others to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid foods, behaviors or habits that produce sickness or disease.
- We believe it is our fundamental right of conscience to direct our own healthcare, in consultation with physicians, family or other valued advisors, free from government dictates, restraints and oversight.
The language is a little ambiguous and it may still leave open the door to non-Christians, but before you apply I’d suggest contacting them directly to find out if you’re unsure.
Paying cash with a high-deductible plan
I wrote a few weeks ago about how insured patients might be able to save money by not telling a provider they have insurance, but also noted that then the payments probably won’t count towards the deductible. One of my readers sent in question with a brief story related to this that I wanted to pass along:
…can [I] get Cigna to apply my cash payment for a CT scan towards my deductible? Cigna told me they wouldn’t do that… The lab is in-network.
I was so surprised today to discover the huge difference between up-front payments vs going through my insurance. I thought I was getting negotiated rates– ha. CT scan went from $2550 through insurance to $920 for cash!
I suspect as more people wind up in high-deductible plans over the coming years, this sort of discovery is going to be more common, causing people to question many of the assumptions of why people need conventional health insurance in the first place.
The Self-Pay Patient book now available on iTunes
It took longer than I’d hoped or expected, but The Self-Pay Patient book is finally available on iTunes! So it’s now available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble for the Nook, and iTunes.
One little oddity – at iTunes apparently there are tiers of prices that sellers are restricted to, so I was unable to set the price at $7.95 like the other digital versions, instead I had to set it at $7.99. Hopefully not that big of a deal, but if anyone needs to buy it on iTunes and feels they’re not getting their extra four cents worth of value, just drop me an e-mail with two questions and I’ll give you my two cents worth on each of them.
And of course, if you’ve bought the book in any format, I’d appreciate it if you could do a review!
Reduced posting for the next few months
Finally, I wanted to give my readers a heads up, that over the next several months my work will not give me the time I need to post every single day. For those that don’t know, I lobby state legislatures in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region (not on anything having to do with health care), and this is the time of year that legislatures are coming back into session and require more of my attention.
So while in the past I’ve tried to post five times a week, Monday through Friday, it’s likely that for the next several months at least I’ll be reduced to four or even three posts a week, depending on how hectic things get. I’ll try to make up for it by getting a little more out on the Self-Pay Patient Facebook page and Twitter feed, where it’s pretty easy to get something out in just a fe