This is my own personal post of my own personal choices for my own family’s health care. This is not a suggestion for anybody to run out and drop their health insurance policy or make any changes at all. I’m not a health care professional or expert. I just thought this would be an interesting health care alternative to mention.
If you do look into Liberty HealthCare because of this post, please email me at [email protected] so I can refer you over to get a rep to contact you for questions, but they are not sponsoring this post. They never asked about my blog’s name nor do they know that I’m writing this post.
Health Care Sharing Ministries
Have you heard about health care sharing ministries? They are organizations created to share the health costs of others with similar ethical or religious beliefs. Since they aren’t actually insurance companies, they don’t technically have to cover your health costs. The big ones have been around for 20+ years and have evolved through the years and I’ve been hearing from happy participants for the last few months online.
Specifically, I saw a post from Michelle from Making Sense of Cents and started researching. From what I could find, there multiple organizations, but the largest four (and the four that are exempt from Affordable Care Act penalties since they have been sharing health care costs since before 1999) seem to be Christian Healthcare Ministries, Medi-Share, Samaritan Ministries, and Liberty HealthShare. I asked Michelle a ton of questions, bopped around online looking at reviews and the different options, and then I started asking a rep from Liberty HealthShare even more questions. Finally, I took the plunge and signed us up.
Our Health Insurance Background
My husband and I are self-employed. We had been paying $270-$330 a month for okay plans from 2012-2015, but then we needed something that wouldn’t get us penalized by the Affordable Care Act and something that would cover me if I got pregnant this year as planned, so we got a new, semi-okay plan with United Healthcare for $570 a month. It has a $2000 per person deductible and $13,700 max out of pocket per year. Ugh.
After 9 months of paying that $570, I’m still not pregnant and we haven’t even used the stupid insurance at all. We’ve had $1500+of chiropractor visits and hubby got the $4500 Lasik surgery from Mann Eye (future post soon – worked out well for him), but we hadn’t actually gotten any benefit from United Healthcare at all.
I just couldn’t keep throwing away a small mortgage payment for something we aren’t using, so ended up switching Liberty HealthShare.
Liberty HealthShare – Negatives and Positives
Before you rush out to join a health care sharing ministry, here are the pros and cons from me…negatives first so you don’t think it’s all rainbows and butterflies!
Negatives of Liberty HealthShare
- They aren’t actually an insurance company, so they don’t really have to pay. PLEASE RE-READ THIS – THEY ARE NOT UNDER THE SAME LAWS AS INSURANCE COMPANIES – THEY ARE NOT LEGALLY REQUIRED TO PAY YOUR MEDICAL EXPENSES.
- They don’t have to accept you into the group. You have to accept/share their ethical standards, so they won’t pay for anything they don’t agree with morally (so no tobacco, no illegal drugs, no abortions, no help with health costs from accidents while drinking and driving, etc.). Liberty HealthShare doesn’t exclude someone based on their sexual orientation, although if you do have a same-sex spouse, you would each have to apply for an individual plan.
- They won’t cover pre-existing conditions the first year, then they cover a part of them the second year, then a larger part the third year, and on it’s no longer considered a pre-existing condition the fourth year.
- You can’t contribute to a Health Savings Account by using health care ministries.
- They request/expect you to live a healthy lifestyle through regular exercise and healthy food. (pro and con?)
Benefits of Liberty HealthShare
- It’s exempt from the Affordable Care Act penalty. You can demonstrate the exemption by using IRS form 8965 when filing your taxes.
- Liberty HealthShare specifically doesn’t require you to be Christian or attend regular religious services. You simply have to “subscribe to an ethical commitment to religious liberty”. Liberty HealthShare also doesn’t exclude someone based on their sexual orientation, although if you do have a same-sex spouse, you would each have to apply for an individual plan.
- They are affordable. It is a lot cheaper than the options we could find for ourselves. Specifically, since we are 33 and don’t have kids yet, it’s $299 a month and they will cover up to $1,000,000 limit per incident with no lifetime max. We’d be responsible for the non-shared amount of $1000 (our out of pocket per year). And there are two other plans even cheaper than Liberty Complete (one starts as low as $107), but we wanted as much coverage as we could get.
- You can see whatever doctor you choose.
- They help negotiate down the bills.
- You can participate even if you have other insurance either just to help or as a backup to whatever your normal insurance doesn’t cover.
- If you have a pre-existing condition that can be changed through lifestyle adjustments (like diabetes, hypertension, cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol and obesity, or tobacco usage), you could still be accepted into the plan on their “Health Trac” plan. It’s $80 more a month until you reach the goals set forth for your specific situation and then you come down to the set prices like everyone else.
Why I Decided to Join Liberty HealthShare
The positives outweighed the negatives for us.
- We would save $3250+ every year! I’m throwing that towards our remaining mortgage principal.
- I love that I can see whatever doctor I choose!
- I love the idea of helping others with my money more directly than with insurance plans.
- We also weren’t contributing to a Health Savings Account before.
- We already are concentrating more on a healthy diet along with exercise.
- Mr. BFS and I also already don’t do illegal drugs, don’t use tobacco products, don’t drink and drive, pray on our own, etc.
- For the biggest negative, the fact that they don’t have to pay, I read several reviews from strangers and friends alike that have been helped. They do cover medical bills that fall within their ethical standards, and they seem to have gotten more efficient about it in the last couple of years. I personally didn’t have faith in any of the actual insurance companies, so the slightly worried feeling I have about health care sharing ministries is actually easier for me to swallow than the distrust I had for our last “real” plans.
- For the other negatives, like the pre-existing conditions exclusion, that means no coverage for our chiropractor visits for the first year. But United Healthcare wasn’t helping us either. This also means that we stopped trying to get pregnant this month since the rep explained that my pregnancy would be covered only after our membership starts on September 1. (Then she told me to have at it, lol.)
- I was also completely honest with the Liberty HealthShare rep about absolutely everything when it came to our personal stances and our pregnancy goals…and we were accepted anyway, yay!
All in all, I figured this may be perfect for us. We’ll see! In the meantime, here is my “Share Box” – my account with them and where I’ll be submitting medical claims and seeing where my monthly contributions are being sent. So far, we just paid the $125 for becoming members plus $10 for the “Complete” plan. Those fees are only charged if you are accepted. Our first monthly contribution will be at the beginning of September 2016.
I’ll update this post or make a new one as we start needing to submit health care bills for coverage. For now, I’m excited to be saving more than $3250 a year!
Again, if this post brings up questions for you or you will look into Liberty further because of it, please email me at [email protected] so that I can refer you over and someone will contact you to answer questions or explain anything you’d like about their plan!