As obsessed as I am with achieving financial stability and financial freedom, I cannot put those goals above my health.
Being such a workaholic, it’s hard for me to slow down sometimes and set appointments with a doctor and check in on my health. I’m realllllly bad at it. But at the end of the day, I wouldn’t begrudge myself of a trip to the hospital or a prescription I really needed just because I didn’t have the money or just didn’t want to pay for it. That’s what insurance and HSAs are supposed to help out with right?
My Health Care Dilemma
Last fall, when my boss approached me about obtaining medical insurance through the company I was willing to get more information but when I started making calculations and crunching numbers, I was extremely disappointed with how little they would cover and how much they would deduct out of my paycheck.
I did qualify for a small tax credit under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but premiums and deductibles were through the roof. I preferred PPO over HMO, and just wanted something decent that would protect my health and not cost an arm and a leg.
I’m thankful for having good health, but if I ever did need to be hospitalized I wouldn’t want to worry about how I was going to pay my deductible along with the other fees. Insurance can seem like a big rip off (but a blessing in disguise) when you never even utilize it. So I was stuck with the decision of either paying a high premium or a high deductible, and being stuck with copays either way.
That’s when my coworker sent me a link with more information about Liberty HealthShare, an option he was going with in order to opt out of the ACA. In this Liberty HealthShare review, I’ll be sharing my personal experience using this program and opting out of the affordable healthcare act.
What is Liberty HealthShare
Liberty HealthShare is one of several health sharing ministries that are ACA-approved alternatives to health insurance. It is not actual health insurance, but as a member you’re not considered ‘uninsured’ either. It’s kind of in that gray space that I never knew existed with health insurance.
Liberty HealthShare members don’t pay a ‘premium’ each month but they pay a mandatory fee which will be shared among members who have medical expenses for that month. So in a way, it’s very much like a group of individuals who share each other’s medical expenses vs. having a private company pay for it. If you were a member and had medical bills, other member’s monthly contributions would fund your medical expenses and vice versa.
There’s an annual unshared amount (AUA) for each member, similar to a deductible, which is an amount that can not be shared. Once you pay your AUA, which is $500 per individual, Liberty Health Share will cover all of you doctor appointments, medical tests, and any other medical expenses depending on which plan you choose.
The 3 Different Plans Include:
-Liberty Share: $70% of eligible medical costs are shared up to $125,000 (Medical costs are shared on a per person, per incident basis, for illnesses or injuries incurring medical expenses when treated by physicians, urgent care facilities, clinics, emergency rooms, or hospitals (inpatient and outpatient)
-Liberty Plus: 100% of eligible medical costs are shared up to $125,000. Members also qualify for pharmacy, chiropractic, dental, hearing, and vision services through Envision Medical Solutions (EMS)
-Liberty Complete: 100% of eligible medical costs are shared up to $1,000,000, Same services as above are available through EMS
What I Like About Liberty Healthshare
As you can probably already assume, I decided to opt out of the ACA and enroll in Liberty HealthShare this year. A few months back, a reader asked me to provide a review about this particular healthcare option so I’d thought it was I’d give my honest opinion about the program in this review.
While the monthly fee or ‘premium’ is low and manageable for me, I love the flexibility of the coverage. I can’t name off every little medical expense in this post, but when I signed up I received a detailed list of the services and incidents that were covered under Liberty Health Share and it’s very similar to a private insurance company if not better. Members receive a free wellness check up. Hospital stays, medical tests and x-rays are all covered.
As I member, I can also choose which doctor or facility I want to go to. With an HMO or PPO I’d be subjected to finding a doctor within that specific network. Now I have the option to choose a quality care provider as long as the practice accepts my health share card. I was happy to receive a discount card for prescriptions and I’m sure you know this frugal woman loves a discount.
It seems like I signed up at the right time because before this year, it was a requirement that you maintain a membership for at least 60 days before you could utilize your sharing benefits (this meant no wellness checkups or any medical expenses for that manner would be covered during the first 60 days). Now that they got rid of that stipulation in 2015, I was able to utilize my sharing benefits as soon as I signed up.
I also like how the annual unshared amount or ‘deductible’ is so low. I signed up thinking All I have to do is cover my medical expenses up to $500 then they will cover the rest no matter what is is, as long as it doesn’t exceed $125,000. I’m aware that some serious medical expenses do exceed $125,000 so the best option would be to go with Liberty Complete just to be safe. If I continue my membership, I will certainly consider upgrading next year but I just wanted to try it out for now.
Despite my AUA being so low, I still haven’t had the time to save up $500 as needed (sad I know, but these bills….). Recently, I had to go to the doctor and was required to take a few more tests. I also ended up in the emergency room last week due to really bad back pains that I just wanted to get checked out early on. I realized that I needed to hurry up with my AUA if I wanted to avoid medical bills.
Then I made a big decision. I had about $1,000 sitting around from my tax refund that I desperately wanted to throw on my student loan balance this month. I chose to only put $500 on my loans and put the other $500 in a savings account to use for my AUA. That way, I wouldn’t have to worry so much about how much the extra tests and a follow up appointment might cost me if I hadn’t payed my AUA. I knew I made the right decision because my health and wellbeing will always be more of a priority than my debt payments and financial goals. At the end of the day, money is just money and what you truly need in order to enjoy your life and your loved ones is your health.
What I Don’t Like So Much
I don’t like how Liberty HealthShare is still so foreign to many healthcare providers. When I went to the emergency room I just showed the records department my card and they made a copy of it and there was no problem.
But when I tried to call different practices to set an appointment for my medical follow-up tests, the receptionist wouldn’t even give me availability without confirming whether or not they could accept my ‘insurance’ or not. I was almost confusing myself when I kept explaining, ‘it’s not private insurance, but it’s not Medicaid either. I really dislike how this country is so obsessed with money and insurance. When it comes to healthcare, providers should be a little flexible.
It would save a lot of time if Liberty would break things down into regions and help members find providers who are aware of Liberty HealthShare and will willingly accept it. With that being said, if you were using private insurance before and had a HSA (health savings account) you won’t qualify for one since Liberty HealthShare isn’t considered health insurance and instead of a deductible they use an annual unshared amount.
It’s also important to remember that Liberty HealthShare is a health sharing ministry based on religious values and standards. This isn’t necessarily something I dislike since I have the same religious values, but it’s definitely something to consider and it may not be for everyone. In order to qualify for a membership, you need to agree with or accept their shared beliefs which seem pretty reasonable to me.
Wrapping It Up
I’ll give periodic updates about my experience with this unique type of health coverage and if you have any questions about Liberty HealthShare feel free to email me or give them a call: (855) 585-4237
Update: December, 2015
A lot of readers have been contacting me regularly and asking for an update on my honest opinion and experience with Liberty HealthShare. Yesterday, I did a podcast interview where I shared some of my feedback on the program. That interview is now live and you can view it here. I took a peek at the plans and premiums in the marketplace a few weeks ago and decided to stay with Liberty for another year.
In my interview, I talked about how Liberty helped cover a surgey I had earlier in the year nad you can see a screen shot of how they repriced the medical bills and shared the remaining amount among other members so I did’t have to pay for it out of pocket myself.
My Favorite Resources
Policy Genius – This free resource is what I used to compare quotes and settle on an affordable term life insurance policy.
ThredUp – The best online consignment shop to find affordable clothes and accessories for women and kids.
LendUdu – Free online marketplace for student loan refinancing. Shop around for better student loan rates without hurting your credit
Survey Junkie – Earn money taking surveys online
Opinion Outpost – Another legit survey company I like. My husband uses this site to earn extra money we can spend on dining out
CapitalOne 360 – My favorite high-yield online savings account. Earn $25 when you open an account.
Have you ever used an alternative to private health insurance before? Why or why not?
Learn How to Start a Money-Making Blog in 10 Days
My free blogging course will teach you everything you need to know about starting a blog, increasing your traffic, and how to monetize it quickly so you can earn money doing something you love.