When my wife and I quit our jobs (I was a high school band director and she was a teacher), finding health insurance was a top priority. After looking at the options, we decided to go with Liberty HealthShare, a health care sharing ministry… not a health insurance company… to cover our health and medical needs.
With the rising costs of health insurance, one of the complaints I hear my readers bring up on a near daily basis, health sharing ministries have become more and more popular. Health insurance is expensive – with higher premiums, for some families, the cost of health insurance has become nearly as expensive as their monthly mortgage payment. There are also fewer coverage options and this has led many Americans to become frustrated with the lack of options.
You’re going to hear me say this over and over again: health care sharing ministries, like Liberty HealthShare, aren’t health insurance companies. That’s important to remember because there are some key differences, which I’ll explain in this Liberty HealthShare review. But, options like Liberty gives consumers an alternative to health insurance that generally comes at a lower cost.
The other thing I just want to get out of the way is that health care is a hot button topic for political reasons. M$M is not a political site, so I’m going to leave politics out of my Liberty HealthShare review and I hope you do the same in the comments, thanx 🙂
My goal in this Liberty HealthShare review is to tell you about an alternative to traditional health insurance so that you can make the best choice for your family.
First, what are health care sharing ministries?
Health care sharing ministries are faith-based health insurance alternatives that allow like-minded individuals to share the cost of health care with other members in the group. Members pay a monthly membership fee that is similar to the monthly premium you pay with health insurance companies. You can choose between varying levels of coverage that depend on your family and your particular medical needs.
When a medical need arises, members submit their medical bills to their health share group, and funds are shared by other members to cover the costs. Again, health share ministries, like Liberty HealthShare, are not insurance companies, but many do qualify for an exemption from the individual mandate of the American Care Act (ACA).
According to Healthcaresharing.org, there are currently over 960,000 people participating in various health share ministries.
M$M tip: If you’re considering switching to a health care sharing ministry like Liberty, find out if it’s right for you and learn about the most popular options in Is a Health Care Sharing Ministry Right for You?
My Liberty HealthShare Review
What is Liberty HealthShare?
Liberty HealthShare was founded in 1995 and says that, “Each of our health share programs follows the same simple process: you contribute to others, and you share your own medical needs with the community.” That’s really the gist of how Liberty works, and it’s actually a pretty cool model in my opinion, and so far it’s working for us.
One of the most important things you need to take away from this Liberty HealthShare review is that it is a Christian-based organization – it is not a health insurance company. Liberty does not need to accept everyone who applies, and they have guidelines you’ll need to follow in order to maintain coverage. I’ll get into that in a minute because it might be what makes or breaks them for you.
My wife and I have been really happy with Liberty so far, and I actually have a lot of blogger friends who use them because they are much less expensive than traditional health insurance options. And when you’re self-employed, finding the right kind of health care coverage is going to be a big part of how you make it all happen.
In this Liberty HealthShare review, I’m going to cover a lot of stuff so you can find out if they could be a good choice for you. Here’s what you’ll learn about Liberty HealthShare:
- The three Liberty HealthShare programs
- How to apply for Liberty HealthShare
- How to submit claims and use Liberty HealthShare
- Pre-existing conditions
- Lifestyle requirements
- HealthTrac Coaching
Liberty HealthShare Programs
Liberty HealthShare has three different levels of coverage for individuals, couples, and families. Their plans start at as little as $199 per month for singles and run up to $529 per month for families. The amount you pay monthly is like a health insurance premium, but it’s called a Monthly Share Amount.
Starting with the most comprehensive plan in my Liberty HealthShare review, Liberty Complete allows you to share up to $1,000,000 in medical bills per eligible incident. This is after you’ve fulfilled your annual unshared amount of $1,000 for individuals, $1,750 for couples, and $2,250 for families. These amounts are the same across all three levels of coverage.
The next step down, Liberty Plus, allows you to share up to $125,000 of eligible expenses per incident.
Both Liberty Complete and Liberty Plus come with access to discounts on pharmacy, dental, vision, and chiropractic care. Both plans also come with medical and pharmacy discounts.
Liberty Share is their lowest priced option and allows you to share 70% of medical bills up to $125,000 of eligible expenses per incident. It includes physician, urgent care, emergency room, and in and outpatient treatment.
How to join Liberty HealthShare
To join Liberty, you will start by creating an online account, filling out background medical information, and will then wait around three business days for them to process your information. It’s a pretty painless process, and it’s pretty similar to applying for traditional insurance.
Once you hear back from them, you can start the process of submitting claims and sharing the cost of your medical bills with their community of members.
How to submit claims and use Liberty HealthShare
Who you can see. When you have a medical need, from wellness visits (which are covered) to emergency care, you aren’t limited to certain doctors or networks – you can see pretty much anyone, but do see their guidelines for more information. This means that if you are switching from traditional health insurance to Liberty HealthShare, you can keep doctors you know and like.
When your provider asks about health insurance. Just like handing them your insurance card, you will show your health care provider your membership card and tell them that you are self-pay and part of Liberty HealthShare.
Submitting your bills. One of the major differences between Liberty HealthShare and other health care sharing ministries is that you typically play a more active role in your health care coverage. Depending on the provider, they may submit claims directly to Liberty, but often you will need to mail or fax the bills yourself. One of the ways Liberty HealthShare keeps their costs low is by sharing some of the administrative duties, like submitting claims.
This might be an adjustment for you, but it’s pretty easy to get used to. It is nice when things are automated for you, think financial apps that sync your transactions, but there is something about taking things into your hands that gives you a better understanding of how everything works.
How your bills are paid. Each member will have access to something called a “ShareBox,” which is where you’ll receive funds (portions of other members monthly share amount) to cover eligible bills. You can even receive well wishes in your ShareBox – I never saw that with my traditional health insurance. When you’ve received enough to cover your expenses, Liberty HealthShare disperses payments to your providers. Again, you will have to fulfill your unshared amount first, but because you’re considered self-pay, Liberty helps negotiate for lower costs.
Liberty HealthShare and pre-existing conditions
Liberty HealthShare defines pre-existing conditions as conditions you’ve been having symptoms of, seeking treatment for or taking medicine to treat in the past 36 months.
Many Americans do have pre-existing conditions – 27% of Americans aged 18-64 or 52 million – and because Liberty HealthShare isn’t a health insurance company, they aren’t subject to the same guidelines the ACA follows. To put it simply, Liberty HealthShare doesn’t have to cover your pre-existing conditions.
However, Liberty HealthShare does offer to share for pre-existing conditions, but that coverage depends on the following schedule:
- In your first year of membership, pre-existing conditions are not covered.
- In your second and third year of membership, you are eligible to share up to $50,000 of the cost of your pre-existing condition.
- In all following years, the condition is no longer labeled “pre-existing” and is eligible for sharing in your plan’s guidelines.
Depending on your pre-existing condition, Liberty HealthShare might not be the best option. I will say that self-pay often means your health care providers are willing to negotiate the bills, but while you’re waiting for full coverage of your pre-existing condition, your out of pocket costs could still be really expensive.
The lifestyle requirement of Liberty HealthShare
Like I said at the beginning of this Liberty HealthShare review, the lifestyle requirements might be a make it or break it a thing if you’re a healthy individual. And again, they can set these requirements because Liberty is not a health insurance company… you’ve got that by now, right?
Liberty HealthShare is built on the principle that they are connecting health-conscious individuals and families with one another so that they can share the burden of healthcare costs. Like-minded means you share and sign the following statement of beliefs (taken directly from Liberty HealthShare’s website):
- 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.
- We believe that personal rights and liberties originate from God, 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 their own way.
You will also have to adhere to the following lifestyle choices:
- Not drinking alcohol excessively
- No smoking or tobacco products
- No abusing legal or illegal drugs
- Getting regular exercise
However, if you’re a smoker, for example, Liberty requires that you enroll in HealthTrac, which I’ll talk about next in my Liberty HealthShare review.
Really, these guidelines are to keep you healthy and surrounded by like-minded individuals who are all working to stay healthy, and that will lower the costs you’ll be sharing.
Liberty HealthShare HealthTrac
Liberty’s HealthTrac program was put in place so that people with chronic issues can have access to the health care they need to become healthier individuals. If Liberty determines that you need to also be a HealthTrac participant, you will pay an additional $80 per month.
Possible issues that will require you to participate in HealthTrac:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
HealthTrac pairs you with a Health Coach who helps you create goals, track your progress and reach your health-related goals. You’re required to work with your Health Coach at least once a month.
If you’re a smoker, for example, your Health Coach will help you deal with your addiction and work towards being nicotine free within six months of enrollment. You will also be required to complete nicotine testing.
Liberty HealthShare review – my final word
When my wife and I made the decision to enroll in a health care sharing ministry, we did so because the costs were lower than traditional health insurance, but we were also completely fine agreeing to their principles and lifestyle requirements. Also, we’re both pretty healthy people who want to continue working towards better health. If you’re following M$M on Instagram, then you’ve probably seen this in my stories.
I think that overall, Liberty HealthShare can be a good alternative to your existing health insurance plan. Their plans are probably close to, if not lower, than what you’re currently paying, while also providing a good level of financial support for your medical needs.
However, if you are a smoker or someone who uses insurance for pre-existing conditions, Liberty HealthShare might not immediately be the best option for you.