The question everyone asked me before I left my job. And by everyone, I mean EVERYONE. Family, friends, coworkers, fellow bloggers, and readers.
“What are you going to do about healthcare?!”
I did some research into the options and it turns out Liberty Healthshare was the best option for me.
I had 4 options: keep my Cadillac health insurance plan from my former employer on COBRA, get a plan on the Exchange, go with Liberty, or self-insure. Self insurance was out. I don’t have $10 million, so I can’t afford to self-insure. COBRA was tempting — after all, I’d been on that plan for 5 years and knew what it covered. It was also an incredibly robust insurance plan that covered a lot of expenses, a definite rarity these days. However, it was going to cost me $450 a month plus medical copays and whatnot, so I said no thanks.
That left a plan on the Exchange or Liberty. I looked into going with a plan on the Exchange. Leaving my job was a qualifying event so I had something like 90 days to sign up with the Exchange before I had to wait until Open Enrollment in December. Turns out it’s a good thing I had so long as the first 45 days post-job were pretty crazy. I did my due diligence and looked at the various plans. I had budgeted $250 a month for health insurance and saw plenty of plans under that. Unfortunately, none of them had very good coverage options or were incredibly limited on who you could see or where you could go for care.
That left Liberty Healthshare.
What is Liberty Healthshare?
Liberty Healthshare is not an insurance plan. Liberty HealthShare is a healthcare sharing ministry whose members share medical expenses. Did I mention it’s not health insurance as defined by the ACA? Its members pay for medical expenses by sharing the costs. Members pay a monthly “sharing” contribution which, pooled together, pays for the medical expenses of other members. Before you’re eligible to have your expenses shared you have to meet an annual unshared amount, similar to a deductible.
Since it’s not an Exchange plan, I won’t get a form for my taxes this year that says I have health insurance. However, it’s considered exempt for the purposes of the mandate, so I won’t have to pay the penalty on my 2018 taxes. In 2019, there’s no mandate so it’ll be interesting to see how things change there.
Liberty Healthshare Cost
I went with Liberty for two main reasons. The first reason is supposed ease of use. You get care, you had the office your member card, and the bill gets sent off to Liberty to review. No fussing with insurance and making countless calls to get care codes fixed. I am trying to make my life easier, so this seems to be a good start to reducing unnecessary complications.
The second reason I went with Liberty is the cost. Compared to the Exchange where decent plans started at $250 and went up from there, Liberty is a steal at only $125 a month.
That’s right, $125 a month.
Pretty great, eh? And unlike the time I went with the lowest price option on fixing my house, I am confident I made a good choice.
I have a few friends who went with Liberty so I called them up and asked them what they thought. None of them had anything bad to say about the care, and actually raved about it. When’s the last time you can remember someone raving about the quality of their health insurance? Probably never ha!
Since I am a single healthy female under the age of 30, I qualified for one of the lowest price tiers. Since they aren’t governed by the ACA, Liberty does a bit more screening up front with potential members. They asked me if I drank, smoked, did illegal drugs like marijuana and other illicit substances, and a few other lifestyle questions. Fortunately, the only drug I’m addicted to is sugar and that’s not illegal (although maybe that wouldn’t be a bad thing). They also ask you about pre-existing conditions. Can’t say that I blame them for asking. They have to evaluate the impact to their bottom line and make sure they can cover everyone’s costs.
They also ask you about your religious habits as they are a Christian based ministry. I didn’t find any evidence they kicked people out for not being Christian, but I played it safe anyways. I’m a religious attendant of the Church of St Mattress when I’m not at Mass with my boyfriend’s family. (And no, I didn’t put that on the form. Yeesh.)
Liberty Healthshare Quality
I have had Liberty for a little over a month now. Thankfully, I’ve yet to need to see a doctor so I can’t comment on the quality of care or ease of paying for said care. However, I will be sure to update this post after that happens (which will hopefully take a while).
I can say, though, I have heard nothing but good things, even from my friend that had a baby while with Liberty. I think it will be great. I don’t just have this hunch — no no. When I was filling out the application form (which is like, 8 pages so be ready) Liberty CALLED MY PHONE and asked if I needed any help.
They have someone monitoring the forms and can tell when someone is in the process of filling it out. So they called me and wanted to make sure everything was going ok. How is that for customer service?? I was incredibly impressed. No one called me when I was struggling to fill out the application for the Exchange, that’s for sure.
Liberty Healthshare Review
So far, so good! Everything was easy to understand, the process to sign up was a breeze, and the customer service excellent. I sleep better at night knowing I’m covered if something happens and I have to go see a doctor. Considering I like to do things like hike through the woods and play softball, this makes me feel a lot better. (Especially since I got hurt for the first time ever in adult softball last month with a very mild concussion).
No fear, Mom. Liberty Healthshare has my back 🙂
Update: February 2019
I was a Liberty Healthshare member from June 2018 to December 2018.
In that time, I did not use their services once, as I was pretty healthy. I did have one small issue that required some meds, but I went to the local clinic down the road as I felt that would be easier and lower cost. I also felt there was a strong chance Liberty wouldn’t cover the service as it was something that fell into a gray area based on their literature.
A ton of people have left comments below both for and against Liberty. I recommend reading them all and making the best decision for you and your situation.
Signing up was super easy, but cancelling coverage was a bit more difficult. I called them to cancel and got a super nice human being. I gave him all my information and told him I wanted to cancel as I was now covered under my employer’s health insurance plan. He couldn’t cancel over the phone, but gave me an email to send my information to. I did, and expected to get notice my plan was cancelled. However, I didn’t hear anything back and got charged for another month of coverage a week later.
Things have been a bit crazy, so I haven’t called them back yet to complain, but I’ll come back and update the post when I have a resolution.
All in all, I would not recommend Liberty Healthshare or another healthsharing ministry. With the benefit of hindsight, it was easy to see Liberty had streamlined their ability to onboard new members, but did not have the amount of staff needed to process claims or unenroll people. I believe it took an extra 2–3 months for me to be able to cancel my membership. I was a lucky one — the comments below are filled with people waiting for sometimes thousands of dollars in reimbursements.
Thanks for reading! Do you have any experience with Liberty? Do you like it? If you’re still working, what are you going to do for health care when you quit?