Liberty HealthShare is the low-cost alternative to health insurance that my wife and I started using after we quit our teaching jobs and became self-employed. We started looking at traditional health insurance, but the options weren’t just expensive, they were limited.
I shared my frustrations with a few blogger friends of mine, some who travel full-time, and they told me about Liberty HealthShare. Then after doing some more research, we decided to give Liberty a shot.
And before we go any further — Liberty HealthShare is a health share ministry, NOT health insurance.
You’re going to hear me say that over and over again in this Liberty HealthShare review because it’s a massively important part of how your health and medical needs are covered.
Health insurance is a major issue for American families. And for some families, rising premiums mean health insurance has become nearly as expensive as their monthly mortgage payment. There is also a lack of options, in and out of network providers, cut benefits, and more.
It can be incredibly frustrating to deal with, which is one of the reasons that my wife and I were happy to find Liberty HealthShare — we’ve been with them for about two years now.
So, if you’ve been struggling with the rising costs of health insurance, are self-employed and don’t have an employer-sponsored plan, or just want to look at all of the options available, this Liberty HealthShare review is for you.
My goal is to tell you about an alternative to traditional health insurance so that you can make the best choice for your family.
M$M note: This review is based entirely on my personal experience with Liberty HealthShare. However, since I’ve seen a growing number of negative comments about Liberty, I’ve made a point to address them in my Liberty HealthShare review.
First, what are health care sharing ministries?
Health care sharing ministries are faith-based non-profit organizations that allow like-minded individuals to pool their money together to share the cost of health care. And when you use a health share ministry, you’re considered a self-pay patient.
Here’s how they work:
- There are different levels of coverage so families can find what fits their specific medical needs and financial situation.
- Members pay a monthly membership fee that is similar to the monthly premium you pay with health insurance companies.
- When a medical need arises, members submit their medical bills to their health share group, and funds are shared by other members to cover the costs.
Again, health share ministries, like Liberty HealthShare, are not insurance companies, but they did qualify as coverage when the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) individual mandate was still in effect.
According to Healthcaresharing.org, there are currently over 1 million people participating in various health sharing ministries.
M$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?
Liberty HealthShare was founded in 1995, and its mission is to “make the Christian tradition of healthcare sharing available and affordable to all.”
This brings up one of the most important things you need to take away from this Liberty HealthShare review. Liberty is a Christian-based non-profit organization, not a health insurance company.
They ask that members share ethical and religious beliefs, and because it’s not regulated like insurance is, Liberty can set its own guidelines for membership. That includes how coverage works for pre-existing conditions and what health issues they will cover.
Liberty isn’t the only healthcare sharing ministries with guidelines like these. But, after looking at several options, Liberty offers the most inclusive coverage.
For example, Liberty does accept people with pre-existing conditions. But, those costs aren’t eligible for sharing in the first year of membership.
One of the reasons Liberty does this is to keep the costs of sharing down. It’s the same reason they offer programs like HealthTrac. This program is designed to help individuals with higher health risks create healthier lifestyle habits. Liberty understands that healthier members mean lower costs for everyone in the program.
Liberty HealthShare HealthTrac
Liberty’s HealthTrac program was created to help people with chronic issues gain access to care that will help them become healthier individuals. If Liberty determines that you need to be a HealthTrac participant, you will pay an additional $80 per month.
Possible issues that will require HealthTrac participation:
- 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 becoming nicotine-free within six months of enrollment. You will also be required to complete nicotine testing.
This is a cost-cutting prescription program that’s available to all Liberty HealthShare members. You can get the most common short-term prescriptions (21-day supply) for as little as $5. There are discounts on long-term maintenance medications and over-the-counter ones.
SavNet Health Savings Program
SavNet helps Liberty members find discounts and savings on costs that aren’t eligible for sharing — dental, vision, hearing, chiropractic care, and more. You can find out more about SavNet here.
Only members of Liberty Complete and Liberty Plus have access to SavNet.
Learn about the health share ministry my virtual assistant is using, at Medi-Share Review 2019: A Less Expensive Options for Health Care.
Because Liberty isn’t… you know what I’m about to say… health insurance, using it is a little bit different than what happens when you normally go to the doctor.
Which doctors can you see with Liberty HealthShare
When you have a medical need, from wellness visits (which are eligible for sharing, and this is different from other health share ministries) to emergency care, you aren’t limited to certain doctors or networks — you can use whoever you’d like.
Being able to use my same doctor is one thing that I like about using Liberty HealthShare. To see which providers have already worked with Liberty or another health share program, you can search through this directory.
When your provider asks about health insurance
Instead of handing over your insurance card, you’ll show your provider your Liberty HealthShare membership card and tell them that you are self-pay. It’s just that simple.
Submitting your bill
Depending on the provider, they may submit claims directly to Liberty, but you might be responsible for sending them yourself via fax or snail mail.
This is a significant difference between health share ministries and health insurance companies. I was a little nervous about this at first, but it was really easy to do. Submitting your bills is one of the reasons that Liberty costs so much less — you’re sharing some of the administrative duties.
If you’re nervous, like I was, about taking a more active role in your healthcare, I get it. We’ve pretty quickly gotten used to things being automated for us, but there is something pretty cool about taking things into your hands and getting a better understanding of how everything works.
How your bills are paid
Before any of your medical bills are shared with Liberty, you have to meet your annual unshared amount — think of this like your deductible. This amount is determined by household size:
- Single $1,000
- Couple $1,750
- Family $2,250 (for three or more members of the same family)
Once you’ve met your unshared amount, you can submit bills for sharing using your ShareBox. This is where you will receive funds (portions of other members’ monthly share amount) to cover eligible bills. You might even get some well-wishes in your ShareBox — I never saw that with health insurance.
When you’ve received enough funds to cover your expenses, Liberty HealthShare disperses payments to your providers. You will receive an Explanation of Sharing to verify the payments.
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 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.
Here’s an overview of the three plans:
Under 30 = $249
30 and over = $299
Under 30 = $349
30 and over = $399
Under 30 = $479
30 and over = $529
Under 30 = $224
30 and over = $274
Under 30 = $324
30 and over = $374
Under 30 = $454
30 and over = $504
Under 30 = $199
30 and over = $249
Under 30 = $299
30 and over = $349
Under 30 = $429
30 and over = $479
This is the most comprehensive plan, and up to $1,000,000 of your medical costs per incident are eligible for sharing. It also comes with HealthShareRx for prescription savings and SavNet discounts on dental, vision, hearing, and chiropractic costs.
This second tier allows you to share $125,000 of your eligible expenses per incident. Like Liberty Complete, it also includes HealthShareRx and SavNet.
This is the least expensive option, and members can share 70% of eligible medical bills, up to $125,000 per incident. It includes HealthShareRX and physician, urgent care, emergency room, hospital treatment (inpatient and outpatient).
To join Liberty, you start by creating an online account and filling out background medical information. Someone from Liberty will walk you through the rest of the enrollment process, and it takes about three business days for Liberty to process your information.
Once you hear back from Liberty, you can start the process of submitting claims and sharing the cost of your medical bills within the community.
If you join Liberty and decide that they aren’t right for you, you can drop out at any time. They only ask that you send a written notice that includes the reason why you want to discontinue your membership.
Liberty HealthShare will accept members with pre-existing conditions, but whether or not costs associated with your condition are covered 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.
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.
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 be incredibly expensive.
There are some religious and ethical requirements to qualify for Liberty HealthShare. Compared to some health share ministries, Liberty’s religious guidelines are a little more ambiguous in that you don’t need to belong to a specific denomination.
But, you will need to observe Christian standards — strive to live according to biblical principles, honor the teaching of sharing one another burdens, and participate in regular worship and prayer. You also need to agree to a statement of beliefs that essentially says you believe in God, can worship in your own way, and should direct your own healthcare. And, that’s it’s your religious duty to assist others when they’re in need and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
You will also have to adhere to the following Christian lifestyle choices:
- Not drinking alcohol excessively
- No smoking or tobacco products (if you do smoke, you’ll need to enroll in HealthTrac)
- No abusing legal or illegal drugs
- Getting regular exercise
Really, these guidelines are to keep you healthy and surrounded by like-minded people who are all working to stay healthy, and this helps keep costs low.
My Liberty HealthShare review has been positive because I’ve honestly had a really good experience with them so far. But for complete transparency, my wife and I haven’t used them for that much. We’re pretty healthy individuals, so no real need to see the doctor.
However, it was brought to my attention that there is a growing number of negative reviews of Liberty HealthShare. The main issues stem from an incredibly slow processing time on bills and unhelpful customer service representatives.
Now, I have some thoughts…
First, I imagine that Liberty HealthShare is experiencing some growing pains. There are more and more self-employed people looking for low-cost health insurance options, and while it’s no longer an issue, the ACA’s individual mandate drove many to health sharing ministries.
Second, Liberty HealthShare isn’t health insurance. I know I’ve said that over and over again, but it means they don’t have to distribute funds on time, cover costs, etc.
If you are at all considering a move to Liberty HealthShare, I highly recommend doing as much research as possible. You can even contact Liberty about your concerns before making the switch.
When my wife and I decided 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 okay with agreeing to their principles and lifestyle requirements. Also, we’re both pretty healthy people who want to continue working towards better health.
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.
And because there have been complaints about a slower process time, having a healthy emergency fund might be necessary. Okay, it’s always important to save for a healthy emergency fund.
Liberty HealthShare has been a good alternative to health insurance for us.
As we continue using them, I will keep this Liberty HealthShare review updated to reflect our experience.