2017 Liberty HealthShare Review, Part 2

We joined Liberty Healthshare in November 2016. I blogged at the beginning of the year about what Liberty is, how it works, and why we chose it versus Medishare or CHM. This is my followup to that post describing our experiences since we signed up.

Pregnancy

Soon after we signed up with Liberty, we discovered that my wife was pregnant! At that point, they simply required a medical provider to prove the conception date was after the signup date, and the pregnancy would qualify for coverage. Since we signed up, they changed the Sharing Guidelines, and it appears pregnancy is now only covered after 60 days of being a Sharing Member (pg. 13). This makes sense, of course, but just be aware.

I called Liberty to find out if I needed to let them know about the pregnancy. Every time I’ve had to call their support line, I’ve gotten a representative quickly, and they have all been helpful. I have been happy to not have problems getting a hold of someone. The rep said we didn’t need to do anything special and to just go ahead and schedule an appointment with my wife’s OB. I asked if we needed to get a price agreement from the provider like some health care sharing ministries do, but she said no. Just have the normal appointments, x-rays, and such, and submit them to Liberty.

After our first appointment with the OB, an employee called us back to her office and gave us a price agreement laying out the required charges for the pregnancy. She said it only included the basic office visits and such, and any medication or other treatment would be in addition. The total was between $2,000-3,000. I went ahead and sent this to Liberty, to see if they would go ahead and reimburse us the amount, but they rejected the claim with the reason, “Was not presented ahead of time for prior approval.” Well, I wish the Liberty rep I spoke with would have told me the document needed to be presented ahead of time. Oh well. It just meant we had to pay out of pocket and submit all expenses to Liberty manually to get reimbursed.

Online Portal

One of the primary reasons we went with Liberty is that they have an online portal to manage our account and submit expenses. I did not want to send physical mail to get business done.

My experience with their online portal is good, but it could be better. The biggest problem is that it’s difficult to manage the medical expenses in your portal. You create a medical expense for each visit or procedure and submit any documents you have to prove the expense is eligible:

You submit your medical expenses through Liberty HealthShare's online sharing portal.

I’ve run into a couple problems with this process.

First off, if you forget to attach a document to an expense, you can’t go back later and add another one. Once you submit the expense, it can only be viewed. That’s silly. If the expense hasn’t been processed, I should be able to edit it and add comments or upload additional documents. For one expense, I forgot to attach the receipt with the statement, so I had to submit another medical expense. There’s also no way to link expenses together, but I typically just copy and paste the related expense IDs in the “additional comments” field, so the processor knows what’s going on.

It’s also strange that after they process an expense, they create a new expense in your list with the details of how they decided to process it. Why not mark the expense I submitted as processed and provide the information there, so it’s all in one place?

The whole process of submitting, managing, and processing medical expenses in the portal needs to be reviewed and improved.

Expense Processing

Liberty’s process to review medical expenses has been taking anywhere from 60-90 days for them to review my expenses and either apply the amount toward my $1,500 AUA (annual unshared amount) or reimburse me. That’s a long time to wait. Those with cash flow problems may not be able to wait this long for reimbursement.

For one expense, it took over 60 days for them to review it, and the person who processed the expense wasn’t paying attention and said we needed to provide proof of eligibility for the expense. I had already given this proof previously, but they didn’t look. I had to call in, and a rep quickly realized the problem and resubmitted it for processing. It was processed later that same day, no problem, but I had to call in to get that done.

If you are concerned about this delay, you can always ask your medical provider if they will set up a payment plan with you. I did this with a hospital once, and they were more than happy to accommodate. But I’m not sure if smaller medical providers are as willing to do payment plans, so your experience may vary. It never hurts to ask!

Reimbursements

A primary question in my mind when I signed up, and I’m sure a primary question for you too, is if Liberty will actually pay when you meet the AUA and have additional eligible expenses!

We submitted quite a few eligible expenses related to my wife’s pregnancy and to a bad string of illnesses with our children over the winter. Aside from the one expense that was incorrectly processed as ineligble (which they re-processed and covered), all other eligible expenses were successfully applied to our AUA.

After our $1,500 AUA was met, they immediately began processing our expenses as “Eligible,” and we received the first two reimbursement checks last week!

Liberty HealthShare reimbursed our eligible medical expenses.

This is great news! We are so glad to find that Liberty HealthShare is legit and actually works like how they describe. You just never know in today’s world, but Liberty certainly appears to cover eligible expenses as described in their Sharing Guidelines.

Aside from the minor inconveniences related to the online portal and the delay in processing expenses, we are very happy so far with Liberty HealthShare. For crying out loud, I had more problems with our former health insurance company, Coventry! There are going to be frustrations with any method of handling medical bills, but Liberty has saved us SO much money already, and the frustrations are really minuscule.

My Experience with Liberty HealthShare

I’ve been blogging about my experience with Liberty HealthShare, so feel free to read my posts!

Referral

If the information I’ve provided here has been helpful to you, and you feel Liberty HealthShare works for you and your family, please give me a shout, and I can provide you my member ID for when you sign up.

Your Turn!

What’s been your experience with Liberty HealthShare? Have you had good or bad experiences? Do you have a question I didn’t answer here? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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  • Lynn Spivey

    HI. My husband and I are currently members of Liberty Healthshare and are planning on discontinuing our membership and moving back to traditional insurance mainly because we cannot find medical providers in our area willing to accept and process claims through Liberty and we end up paying out of pocket, filing bills and then waiting months for reimbursement or application to the AUA. My husband suffered an eye injury last summer and first saw an urgent care doctor then an eye doctor for diagnosis and follow-up. We had to pay out of pocket and then submit bills. It first took 4 phone calls to the urgent care billing offices to get a bill with the appropriate billing codes that Liberty would accept. I submitted the eye doctor bills and Liberty asked for details about about the injury as diagnosed during the first visit which I provided by phone and I also asked that all bills be linked so I didn’t get repeatedly asked for the same information.Then Liberty asked for the medical charts for the follow up visit to the eye doctor which did not really make any sense to me (why not the charts from the first visit where the injury was diagnosed?) but I got these from the doctor and sent them. After waiting a couple of weeks without hearing from Liberty, I called only to find out that the bills had never been linked and they were basically asking for the same information again and again. This was a relatively simple situation and although all expenses where eventually added to the AUA it took 5 months and several phone calls to get this done. I am very concerned about how Liberty would handle something more complex (like what occurred 5 years ago when my son fell and hit his head resulting in a traumatic brain injury that required surgery, a stay in critical care and the ICU) especially if I have trouble getting medical providers to accept and process claims through Liberty, I don’t have thousands to dollars–$32,000 for 2 1/2 days in the hospital for my son–to pay while I wait for Liberty to process and reimburse..I don’t doubt Liberty’s sincerity but collecting and forwarding bills with the correct billing codes from multiple sources after a medical emergency and waiting for Liberty to work though them while I’m caring for a seriously ill or injured loved one (and while hospitals and doctors are wanting to be paid) is a situation I don’t want to find myself or my family in. Liberty needs to spend more effort making medical providers aware of who they are and how they work and not leave it up to their members to try and convince doctors and others to accept payments through Liberty.

    • johndubya

      Lynn,

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience. I’m so sorry to hear the troubles you’re having. I’d love to say I’m shocked, but from my own experiences, what you describe does not surprise me. As I have now stated in at least one of my blog posts about Liberty, they need some serious improvements to their medical bill processing department.

      With my wife’s pregnancy, they initially denied a couple of the bills for the reason “need medical records.” I had already sent them documents proving the conception date, but they hadn’t linked it to my expenses. So yes, that appears to be a common problem with their processors. I’ve told a couple people now, I’m wondering if they are just so swamped with new people coming on, the processors are just rushing through claims trying to get as much done as possible and make us have to prove they’re wrong, instead of them have to wade through documents to find the right answer. I don’t know. But it leads to problems like you experienced.

      For me, what it’s primarily come down to is this: on traditional insurance, while I might have less hassle with bills and such (I had quite a few problems even with Coventry), my premiums would be over $700 per month with a deductible of $6,000 and out of pocket max around $13,000. At that point, I’m bankrupt. With Liberty, we’re paying $399 per month with a max out of pocket of $1,500. I mean, there’s just no question to me. I will deal with shuffling some paperwork and making phone calls to save that much money and stay out of Obamacare.

      You’re right, one huge part of being on a health care sharing ministry is finding providers that submit bills directly to Liberty. Our local Mercy hospital and clinics all submit directly to Liberty, and it has been nearly hands-off for me. But I do have a couple other providers who I have to pay out-of-pocket and wait for reimbursement. It’s continuing to take 60+ days to get checks, so that’s still a problem. As I stated in my first post about these ministries, those with cash flow problems will not be able to make it work. The ministries just take too long to process claims. I sure hope they improve that soon.

      Thanks for stopping by! Blessings to you and your family as you make decisions about your healthcare.