Each year, we extend the opportunity for our members to make their voices heard through a member vote. Upon review of the results, the Liberty HealthShare Board of Directors then votes on whether to implement certain changes to the ministry's Sharing Guidelines. Here are the results of this year's vote:
At the end of March, Liberty HealthShare members were asked to decide upon changes to the initial unshared amount (IUA) of $500 per incident.
The vote focused on TWO ASPECTS OF THE IUA:
- Under $500
The Guidelines defined an incident as a medical event incurring treatment and expenses over $500. Therefore, any small bills under $500 would not be shared by the members. Members expressed concern over the course of the year that the potential financial burden to the member could not be calculated or budgeted because of the unknown. Members worried that small medical bills could amount to several thousand unexpected dollars.
As a community, we exist to share in expenses that are unexpected and unaffordable. Without being able to quantify the ‘less than $500 events’, it was difficult to know when to step in and assist with a burden that had grown large and unmanageable. It looked like we needed a change.
- Over $500 an incident at a time
While the Guidelines set a limit on the number of initial unshared amounts (IUA’s) a member would have in a year (one for a Single, two for a Couple, three for a Family), it still left an unknown in a member’s mind. Wouldn’t it be better if we all had an expected amount for which we could budget? Again, it looked like a change was needed.
THE TWO PROPOSED CHANGES ARE AS FOLLOWS:
- Change from per incident to Annual Unshared Amount
Picture a bucket being filled with medical expenses over the course of the year. If a member or their family had only minor expenses throughout the year, the small bills would accumulate in the ‘bucket’ until the expense reached a limit. Once the limit was reached, the eligible expenses would be shared among the members.
The proposed change was to make the annual ‘bucket’ $500 for a single, $1000 for a couple, and $1500 for a family. That would make our expected expenses known and predictable. We could all budget for the year based on our participation as a single, couple or family.
- Each member's year based on their anniversary date
Each member’s year is different. We all enroll on different dates. So the annual ‘bucket’ would be measured from the date each member marks as their effective date in the program until the next anniversary date for renewal. This was fair and reasonable for everyone.
The overwhelming response was in favor of the change. Members voted 84% to 16% to approve the change. Here’s the wording of the new paragraph in the Guidelines defining the Annual Unshared Amount:
Annual Unshared Amount. The amount of medical expense eligible for sharing must exceed an annual accumulative amount for each single, couple or family membership. Such annual amount shall be calculated upon each member’s enrollment date until their next annual renewal date. Eligible needs are shared in excess of the first $500 of any eligible need for a single member, or the first $1000 for a couple, or the first $1500 for a family membership. All eligible medical expenses that exceed the applicable Annual Unshared Amount shall then be subject to the program limits per incident selected by the member.
- Effective date of change
Any medical bills incurred after April 15, 2014 will be subject to the new Annual Unshared Amount. Any bills incurred and in process during this change will be shared to the best advantage of the member. In other words, if there is a judgment call to be made on what amounts are eligible to be shared, or to apply to the annual unshared amount, we will always give the benefit of the doubt in favor of the member in need.
- The "net cost" will apply to the Annual Unshared Amount
We access deep discounts for medical bills. Therefore, the net amount of the bill, (after the discount) is the amount that will be counted against the annual ‘bucket’. For example, if a single member has a procedure that is billed at $1000, and that bill is discounted to $400, the $400 would go against the Annual Unshared Amount of $500. That member would then only have $100 to go before sharing commenced. The same would apply to a couple or a family and their respective Annual Unshared Amount.
- Any family member can fulfill the annual amount
The Annual Unshared Amount is not linked to any person in the family. Any one person or combination of persons in the family can accumulate expenses in the ‘bucket’. For a couple, either the husband or wife can accumulate toward the $1000 amount. Any family member can meet the total amount in a single incident.
- Per incident carries on
After the Annual Unshared Amount is fulfilled, sharing commences on a per incident basis up to the program limit. For example, a family in the Liberty Complete program may have 3 small incidents that accumulate to their $1500 Annual Unshared Amount. On the 4th incident, they would be eligible to have bills shared from the first dollar of expense up to $1 million for that incident.
- Financial impact on the sharing program
Based on our best analysis of our sharing history, this change will have a negligible effect on our Share Amounts. In fact, the data suggests that we might even experience fewer bills to share. In any event, we will continue to monitor the results of this change and will alert the members if any negative impact is apparent.
This concludes the member vote of the 2014 year. We count it a great success for our community as this matter was reviewed, considered, and decided by you, our members. Congratulations! If you have other suggestions to be considered, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Your proposals will be kept on file for consideration the next time our annual vote rolls around. If this was your first time voting with us, we thank you for your participation.
*PLEASE NOTE: AS THE GUIDELINES UNDERGO REVIEW AND CHANGES FOLLOWING EACH YEAR'S MEMBER VOTE, THIS INFORMATION MAY NOT BE THE MOST CURRENT. BE SURE TO REVIEW THE SHARING GUIDELINES LINKED ON THE LIBERTY HEALTHSHARE WEBPAGE TO OBTAIN THE MOST CURRENT INFORMATION.