Altrua Qualifies for Obamacare Exemption

It’s been so long since I posted here I’m sure a few of you wondered if I’d been hit by a bus, kidnapped by the insurance companies, or just lost interest. Fortunately the answer to all of these is ‘no,’ but I have been swamped with my work that pays, at least that pays in ways that fill my bank account and allows me and my family to eat!

I’ve got a bunch of things that have been sitting in my in-box (of course), and I’m planning on beginning to work my way through them over the next few weeks with a number of fairly short post.

I thought I’d start by sharing what is probably the biggest news, that Altrua Healthshare, one of the five health care sharing ministries I’m aware of, recently received a letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services confirming Atrua members are exempt from the tax Obamacare levies on many uninsured people (I’d blogged about Atrua’s merging with Blessed Assurance Bulletin, which is what allowed them to qualify, here: Altrua qualifies for Obamacare exemption, plus more on CMF Curo).

Here’s a link to Altrua’s recent press release announcing the good news: Altrua Gains Recognition as a Health Care Sharing Ministry

This is great news, of course – there was some question early on whether or not Altrua might qualify but I’m pleased to see that Altrua members, who have done the responsible thing and arranged to take care of potential major medical expenses outside of the conventional third-party payer health insurance system, won’t be penalized.

I haven’t heard from the other four ministries: Christian Care Ministry (better known as Medishare, and with a sweet new web site, by the way!); Christian Healthcare Ministries; Samaritan Ministries; and Liberty HealthShare. There’s really not much doubt the first three qualify, but there is some question about Liberty although they seem pretty confident they’ll qualify, and I hope they do. I’ve got a message in to the head of Liberty and will share it with you when I get it.

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26 Responses to Altrua Qualifies for Obamacare Exemption

  1. Good morning,
    It is always good news when patients, who are recognizing the benefits inherent in this cooperative model of health care coverage, get a thumbs up from the government. I hope to see more and more patients leaving the health insurance world behind.
    The other part of the equation is for patients to contract directly with their primary care physicians to provide their basic care rather than depend on insurance. We don’t buy insurance for oil changes, gas, or tire rotations. Why don’t we just plan for basic primary care and pay the physician directly? The primary care physician can then pass on the savings of not having to deal with insurance companies to the patient. Everybody wins!

    Eric Potter MD
    Sanctuary Medical Care and Consulting
    Wholistic Healthcare for the Glory of God (Col. 3:23)

  2. James Johnson says:

    thanks for the updates
    My wife belongs to Liberty HS. why is their approval by the Fed’s less certain than the others?
    Is it time to do some “what if” planning?

    • says:

      I’m not a lawyer so I can’t do a very good job of explaining it, but as I understand there is a question regarding the continuous providing of benefits – I personally think they qualify, but Washington DC bureaucracy has a strange way of looking at things sometimes and the fact that they’re built on what was originally a much smaller ministry that primarily offered death benefits means they might get a second look. I wouldn’t be surprised if their letter were delayed, I’d be surprised if it weren’t ultimately granted. Hope this answers your questions!

  3. Carolyn Smith says:

    I am a Liberty Healthshare client. I am disturbed by the news they might not be exempt, and I have heard nothing from them about this possibility. If they don’t qualify, will I be penalized by the IRS for the past year that I have been with them?

    • says:

      Liberty’s position, as I understand, is that they do qualify for the exemption. I agree with them, BUT their history is a little different than the ‘Big 3’ (Samaritan, Christian Care Ministry/Medi-Share, and Christian Healthcare Ministries) and that introduces a little bit of uncertainty, at least in the minds of several people who are knowledgeable in this area and that have talked with me. I wouldn’t worry too much about it, it’s a low-probability possibility they won’t get the exemption in my opinion, but it’s not a zero-probability possibility.

    • Ralna says:

      I just spoke with Brian, a customer rep at Liberty, who states they have a letter from the IRS that they are sending their members for 2014. He says they got the letter 3 or so weeks ago. Can you confirm this? I just signed up for them.

  4. I work for Medi-Share/Christian Care Ministry. Christian Care Ministry was given a certificate of exemption in January 2014. A copy is located on our website along with answers to frequently asked questions about the Healthcare Reform. Hope this helps!

  5. Leo W. says:

    Received the following today: “Liberty HealthShare, Inc., in 2014, joined with Gospel Light Mennonite Church Medical Aid Plan, Inc., a healthcare sharing ministry recognized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). As a result, the members of Liberty HealthShare have the security of being members of a CMS recognized healthcare sharing ministry and the members of Gospel Light Mennonite Church Medical Aid Plan, Inc. have the benefit of Liberty HealthShare’s technological and medical industry know-how.”

    • says:

      Excellent news! That’s basically the same way Altrua qualified, by merging with another ministry whose history is pretty conventional and clear.

  6. Jane Bailey says:

    Thank you for reassuring me! I just about launched into a panic attack! I can’t believe that lawmakers can’t see how illegal Obamacare is. Buy insurance or we’ll tax you? Are we back in the colonial days? Our poor country. Supporting ACLJ/Jay Seculow and staff in getting this dumped, or praying for our next president/congress to!

  7. Pingback: What Do You Know About Christian Healthcare Ministries as a Solution to the Health Insurance Problem? (January 2015 Update) | Junior Ganymede

  8. Angela Mayeaux says:

    How can I enroll in this. The cost of medical insurance for me and my husband alone is 1000.00 a month which is just outrageous to me that’s what my house note is.. And my husband is hit with 2000.00 a month in child support. There is no way we can afford the outrageous amount Obama wants for insurance or any other insurance company..

  9. melliott says:

    I just found out about these sharing plans and I’m not sure if this is good for my family.
    Hopefully someone can give me some advice.
    We have a monthly premium of nearly $800. Our deductible is $6,000 per person with 12k for the family. We have 2 young kids with asthma and my wife has a chronic condition that sends her to a specialist monthly. The Dr. and prescription costs are killing us as we don’t have co-pays (everything just goes towards the deductible). Through the first month and a half for this year, we have already spent about 4k on health care. This affordable health care is making my family broke. Does anyone have a solution? Any help is very much appreciated.

    • says:

      I can’t really tell you what is the best solution for you, but I’d start by comparing what you’re looking at paying ‘out of pocket’ between premiums and the deductible, and see if a sharing ministry or short-term insurance plus what you’d still have to pay for the asthma and you’re wife’s condition is more or less than that. $800/mo x 12 = $9,600, add that to the $6,000 for your wife (I’m assuming she’ll max out) and probably several thousand for your kids as well, it’s entirely possible you’re looking at $20,000+ before you get a single dollar’s worth of benefit from your insurance.

      With a ministry, they don’t cover pre-existing conditions (although after several years continuous membership they do), but your monthly membership is going to be much less than $800/mo.So I’d try to determine whether paying directly (remember, you can often get discounts by paying directly and not forcing your providers to go through the insurance process) for your wife’s chronic condition and your kids’ asthma, plus the membership, will add up to less than the $20k it looks like you’re going to be out under the current system.

  10. Deb Jellick says:

    I just found out about the possibility of using the Health Share Ministry and I was wondering where I can talk to someone in Maryland who has used this system. I have no pre-existing condition, but wondering what happens if I develop a problem in the future. Would love to talk to someone who uses this Ministry.
    Thank you

    • says:

      Anybody in Maryland who might be able to share their experience? Or anywhere else? Since it’s a national organization, I’d guess the experiences of people in other states would be pretty much the same.

  11. John Mueller says:

    “With a ministry, they don’t cover pre-existing conditions (although after several years continuous membership they do)” That was one major question I had as a 30year Type 1 Diabetic, so it appears that my diabetic specialist, insulin, monitoring supplies and any future problems where diabetes ‘might’ be a contributing factor, would not be covered. Though only prescribed as preventative (no prior problems), would being prescribed Blood Pressure and Cholesterol meds cause future Cardiovascular problems not to be covered?
    Having been ‘self-insured’ / ‘self-pay’ during ’08 & ’09 only reason I bought Health Insurance was for potential Hospitalization. Though my Specialist will disagree, I do know how to self treat my diabetes at acceptable cost, less than what my 2016 premium increases will be.
    My Health Insurance company for the past 5 years decided to not offer Health Insurance for 2016 and quotes from all others are indicating 25% to 50% premium increases and higher Out Of Pocket costs.

    • pam says:

      Liberty HealthShare a step-up program for any pre-existing condition
      (no coverage –> full coverage in 4 years)
      Samaritan & others likely have similar setup.

      however, LHS does not cover “maintenance drug” only “incidence drug”
      i think they have a program to help you find discount pharmacies tho.

      (these are just my impression from reading their sites.)


  12. Burrell Rich says:

    Have you heard if Liberty is now acceptable by Obama Care?

  13. Hi there Sean,

    This thread came past my radar again today, I just wanted to go on record to assure everyone that Liberty HealthShare has received it’s recognition through our parent ministry Gospel Light Mennonite Church Medical Aid Plan. You can see the letter that was sent to us from CMS.

    You’re doing great work Sean, keep it up!

  14. Todd Young says:

    I asked about qualifying for an HSA and you let me know that since I didn’t have an insurance plan that meets the requirement then I probably won’t be eligible. You were 100%. But the good news is that there is H.R.1752 that was introduced “To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to make members of health care sharing ministries eligible to establish health savings accounts.” I’m going to do a little more research and contact my representatives to see if we can help this along. If we get enough pressure on our elected officials maybe we can get it passed.
    Todd Young

  15. Donna says:

    Check Liberty Healthshares rating on the Better Business Bureau – it’s a D+!

    My own personal experience is they did not pay my very first claim for an annual wellness visit & the bloodwork ordered for it even though their literature states that they pay 100% for this without having to meet your annual deductible. They jacked me around for two months telling me they hadn’t received my claims because they have no way of “notating items received thru the US mail” even though I mailed them to the address they provided in my “welcome packet”. Then I emailed the claims & they couldn’t give me any status updates because they don’t have information available until the claim is completed processing which they tell you takes 30-45 days. In the meantime, they were able to get my initial signup fee of $135, plus 3 monthly payments of $279 each. I’m disputing their charges thru my credit card company and filing a complaint with the BBB and the Attorney Generals office.

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