Upstate attorneys sue national health non-profit Liberty HealthShare for failing to pay medical bills
SPARTANBURG, S.C. (FOX Carolina) - Vicky Lynn has been a Christian all her life. She is self employed so when she was looking for health insurance it seemed fitting to choose a Christian non-profit. She heard about Liberty HealthShare on the radio.
“I heard and thought, I am going to get this number and call and find out about this,” Vicky Lynn said.
She says at first it was going well. It helped cover the costs of some doctor visits.
“Like if you had a physical or something like that, then they paid for that,” Lynn said.
But when it came time to help cover the costs of an expensive surgery, she had to fork the bill of more than $10,000.
“I called them and they told me these bills were on a backlog,” Lynn said. “They said by next month it should be up.”
Her attorney Matt Shealy from Spartanburg says this was a bill Liberty HealthShare had agreed to pay.
“They agreed they owe the $10,000 we have heard about, they have admitted they owe that money,” Shealy said.
In a statement to Fox Carolina Liberty Healthshare said in part:
“Liberty HealthShare is a non-profit health care cost sharing ministry as outlined in the Affordable Care Act and statutes in more than 30 states. Liberty HealthShare is not, and has never been, an insurance company. It does not sell health insurance.”
Lynn says when she signed up she thought it was health insurance.
“They showed me what they pay and what they do, just like any insurance company would,” Lynn said.
Their website shows options like choose a program and get a free estimate. Lynn had a card, which she thought was an insurance card and paid a high monthly premium.
“It was $399 a month,” Lynn said.
Shealy filed a lawsuit saying Liberty HealthShare failed to pay for Lynn’s medical bills and is indeed health insurance based on the South Carolina statute.
“If someone hits you in the face, you don’t get to say it’s not assault, no the statue says it is assault,” Shealy said. “If you agree to pay someone else’s medical bills you are an insurer.”
Shealy says Liberty HealthShare misused money collected from patients, like the $399 a month Lynn paid in premiums. The Affordable Care Act requires 80% of each health insurance dollar to be spent on member claims. Shealy claims only 56% was spent on member claims, according to information published in the Massachusetts Health Connector. He believes a good portion of the money was being spent elsewhere.
“Pot farms in Oregon, there is a jet charter plane in Ohio they own a piece of,” Shealy said. “They have bought hundreds of acres of the Lazy L Ranch and Lazy L Meats.”
In a statement Liberty HealthShare said:
“88% of every dollar contributed after the first two months of membership goes directly into sharing members’ needs. We always strive to follow the laws, rules and regulations that are established for health care sharing ministries. Due to pending litigation, we have no further comment at this time.”
On March 20th the defendants in the case filed a motion to dismiss the case
Shealy believes there may be more victims and Lynn just hopes no one else is lured in like she was.
“What I liked is that they were Christians’ in an insurance company, but I don’t think they were really Christians’,” Lynn said.
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