You're a member who has successfully shared a bill! You worked closely with your doctor to evaluate the course of your care, you pre-notified Liberty HealthShare of the procedure, and your bill was submitted promptly through your ShareBox. Now what? Everything you've read says that it may take 30-45 days for your bill to be processed, but what does "processed" mean? We receive this question from members often, especially if the wait is taking longer than expected. Delays can be frustrating without further information, and it is our desire that members feel at ease throughout the course of their cost sharing by being as transparent as possible every step of the way.
We often receive questions from our members about the purpose of annual renewal fees. Without understanding the context of this yearly addition, many members contact us feeling confused and frustrated by the extra dollars added to their monthly share amount. There is no need for alarm, and we hope to equip members with the info they need to be savvy consumers both within the Liberty community and the greater context of medical health.
When we discuss preventative medicine and ways we can take responsibility for our health, annual wellness visits might come to mind as a means to accomplishing both. It seems to be part of the conventional wisdom most of us abide by, at least in theory. We may not make that visit every year, but we know we should. Or should we?
One of the key values that animates the work of Liberty HealthShare is right there in our name: liberty. We believe our members should be able to access the healthcare that is best for them and their families, without bureaucratic oversight or interference. It's especially rewarding for us when we find out this emphasis on freedom has positively impacted members on a practical level, enabling them to get the care they need in a timely manner. This was just the case for Mary and Dan K., members from Texas whose children have endured serious health issues in recent years. We recently talked with Mary about their experience as Liberty HealthShare members through a difficult and frightening season.
Liberty HealthShare is not an insurance company. We are a ministry that facilitates the sharing of medical costs among the people who participate in this voluntary community. The funds come from our members, not corporate coffers. For this reason, we often remind our members to join us in doing everything they can to reduce the often outrageous costs associated with healthcare.
At some point in your membership with Liberty HealthShare, you might find yourself dealing with what is known as a balance bill. In short, balance billing is what happens when a bill has already been paid and the physician or provider attempts to get more money directly from their patient. It's important to note that balance bills represent only a fraction of the costs that are submitted to Liberty, however, we want to give you the information and steps you will need to properly respond if you find yourself in this situation.
If you have been a Liberty HealthShare member for any length of time, you know that we ask our members to be actively engaged with the cost of their care so that, as a community, we can wisely steward and preserve the financial resources we all share in times of unexpected and unaffordable medical need. Any time we interact with the healthcare industry as patients, from a yearly check-up to an unforeseen surgical intervention, we alone have the power to compare prices and choose how and where we will access healthcare.
Recent months have held ongoing legislative discussions concerning the possible repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Although Liberty HealthShare does not align with or endorse any political party, we make a point of staying on top of any policy developments that might affect our membership at both the federal and state level. Several months ago, Liberty HealthShare Executive Director Dale Bellis and HealthShare Radio host John Daly interviewed former Virginia governor and presidential candidate Jim Gilmore.
The school year just ended, but we all know it won't be long before we're shopping back to school sales in anticipation of the start of the new year. You probably don't need to worry about those purchases just yet, but this is a good time to plan ahead for your child's back to school check-up and, if necessary, his or her vaccinations.
Those of us who are pet owners know that having a dog or cat - or bird, reptile, amphibian, or rodent, depending on your interests - makes life a little bit better. Each breed and individual animal has its quirks, but generally, there is a bond between owner and pet. In the case of dogs and (some) cats, they're waiting when you come home, ready to play, in some cases looking like they're actually smiling because they've been reunited with you after a WHOLE day apart. Have you ever noticed that being around a pet has a calming effect on your mental and emotional state? Certainly, there are some pets that bring rambunctious energy everywhere they go, but there are others that seem to simply enjoy being nearby. The calming effect of pets is no illusion.
Elaina George, MD Physician Advisory Board Chairman, Liberty HealthShare Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), the American healthcare system has undergone significant changes that affect everyone, whether they are patients or not. The price of health insurance and out of pocket costs have continued to rise while access has fallen. In fact, the US healthcare system remains the most expensive in the world, and yet it continues to rank last compared to other western countries. Additionally, there has been a decrease in the number of private physicians, community and rural hospitals have closed, and prescription drug costs have continued to rise. As a result, Americans continue to pay more for prescription medication than patients in other countries do.
John Hunt, MD Chief Medical Officer, Liberty HealthShare Advancements in technology bring costs down in most every sector of the economy. Consider that computers, which used to take up an entire floor of a building, now fit in the palm of your hand, and with exponentially higher processing power than in the past. Yet all this increased computing power comes to us far cheaper each year than the one before.
John Hunt, MD Chief Medical Officer, Liberty HealthShare The last several decades have brought great advances in the science of medicine, but the art of medicine has been increasingly abandoned. However, healthsharing—if taken to heart by each and every Liberty HealthShare member and recognized for what it is—can empower the art of medicine toward rebirth. If you go to the effort of identifying a good primary care doctor for yourself and your family, you, your fellow members, and the healthcare community at large will be well served.
ohn Hunt, MD Chief Medical Officer, Liberty HealthShare To our recently enrolled members, welcome, and congratulations on your effort to escape the third-party healthcare payment system where somebody else pays the bill, e.g., an insurance company, an employer, or the government. This transition is not necessarily easy because most folks have been in the third-party payment system for so long that they have forgotten (or never experienced) what it’s like to make medical care choices based on both quality and price .
John Hunt, MD Chief Medical Officer, Liberty HealthShare In an era of constantly growing government, what can physicians and patients do to avoid getting abused and poorly treated by our politicized medical system? The answer is simple: NOT what physicians and patients have done for decades. What physicians did wrong was to stop advocating for their patient’s finances. What patients did wrong was to stop asking how much their care will cost. After all, why bother to ask if some faceless, distant insurance company, or the government, is footing the bill?
John Hunt, MD Chief Medical Officer, National Coalition of Healthcare Sharing Ministries As members of the Liberty HealthShare community, each of us has the responsibility to steward the resources of the entire membership. In order for healthcare sharing to function the way it should, we are duty-bound to try and save money whenever we access the health system. And let’s not be naïve: the health system is out to take all the money it can.
If you have been a Liberty HealthShare member for a while, you might already know how to submit a bill or receipt through your online ShareBox. You also may or may not have encountered an issue with what's known as "balance billing." For those of you who are new to Liberty, or if you simply are not familiar with these two topics, here’s a quick refresher:
By now, you’ve probably heard about the skyrocketing price of Epi-Pens (epinephrine injection). If you need to keep epinephrine nearby to treat a severe allergic reaction, you know why recent developments are financially burdensome and could even be devastating for some. Epi-pens, or at least some form of injectable adrenaline, are not a luxury for those who need them. For this reason, we are thrilled to be bringing you good news about how SavNet can assist our Liberty Complete and Liberty Plus members in obtaining their Epi-Pens at greatly reduced prices or in many cases, for free.
Getting the most medical care for your money John Hunt, MD Chief Medical Officer Thirty-to-Fifty percent of medical procedures and tests are wasteful. As members of a Christian healthcare sharing ministry, each of us is obliged to think conscientiously about the choices we make regarding medical expenses. Certainly, if I ask my community to share in my medical expense, I ought to work very hard to make sure that the expense is reasonable.
When costs became her number one concern, Karen found Liberty HealthShare. Whatever your reason for joining Liberty HealthShare; whether it’s our community of like-minded people, the freedom that comes with directing and managing your own healthcare, or the financial responsibility you can exercise as a member, we are glad you are here. It is our goal that you experience all these benefits and more through your membership. Just recently, Karen O. from Florida shared her impressions with us:
At Liberty HealthShare, we frequently hear members as well as health care professionals referring to Liberty as insurance. It is important for our members to remember that Liberty is a cost-sharing ministry, not an insurance company. Because we are a healthcare sharing ministry, we are free from insurance! We are free to choose our physician, choose our hospital, and choose our pharmacy. We are in charge of our own healthcare. As members of Liberty HealthShare, we must take the role of stewards who strive to minimize cost for all of our members. One of the ways in which we accomplish this is through our handling of pre-existing conditions.
by John Hunt, MD Chief Medical Officer, Liberty HealthShare You have probably noticed that prescription medications are extremely affordable in some cases and terribly expensive in others. There are several reasons for this phenomenon. Some drug prices benefit from free markets and generally free international trade, with prices dropping to nearly zero (think Walmart and all the pharmacies that followed them with their $4 low prices). These days, some antibiotics are even free. Don’t believe me? Just Google it. But for every cheap or free prescription, there are just as many or more astronomically expensive drugs out there.
Viewpoints from a Naturopathic Physician by Kendra Pearsall, N.M.D. People tell us their number one reason for joining Liberty HealthShare is the cost savings. Members report they are saving thousands over previous years' total healthcare expenses. Cost savings is one of the many reasons I LOVE being a member, and for that reason and more, I tell everyone I know about this wonderful program. I asked Liberty HealthShare's Executive Director, Dale Bellis, how Liberty is able to keep membership fees low.
Andy and Tiffany Clark are a young couple from Canton, Ohio. Like many young people, the Clarks had begun to face financial difficulties due to student loan debt. These difficulties prompted tough decisions as the couple faced choosing between paying healthcare costs or neglecting basic necessities of life such as food and rent. Andy and Tiffany’s faith in God’s provision led them to pray that He would intervene and provide a solution that would meet all of these needs rather than accepting the frightening realities of living without help in case of unexpected medical costs. What happened next was an answer to prayer and a chance for the Liberty HealthShare family to grow.
by John Hunt, MD In 2011, the state of Virginia tried to block the Federal government’s overreach by passing a law that made it illegal for any individual to be compelled to purchase health insurance. Unfortunately, a loophole was sewn in; one that allowed universities to demand that their students carry health insurance.
When you are looking into healthcare sharing ministries, you may be taken aback by all the state warnings you see. These legal notices usually state that the organization is not an insurance company and that it does not issue insurance policies. They also discuss the fact that you are not guaranteed payment for any medical costs you incur as a member, and that you are ultimately personally liable for any unpaid bills. Upon first glance, these warnings seem ominous, and you may wonder whether you should join the group. Rather than allowing them to make you fearful, allow us to explain why the government has instituted these warnings and what they mean.
After working for 30 years in communication electronics, the military, and freight railroading, Indiana resident Larry Jones was fed up with the high cost of traditional healthcare. Between the copays, coinsurance, deductibles, and limited provider choices, he sought something better and more affordable.
In the medical world, it seems like costs are always rising. However, there are a few key situations in which costs have actually dropped for individuals. One of these is in the case of members of medical cost sharing ministries, which are allowable under the Affordable Care Act. Liberty HealthShare members actually saw their monthly share amount drop by $50 from 2013 to 2014.
One medical incident can cost thousands of dollars; a sum that doesn't fit into the most household budgets. However, rather than trying to manage these expenses alone, individuals can come together to take advantage of the law of large numbers, a mathematical principle that has significant implications for healthcare. The law of large numbers says that the more times a process is carried out, the closer to the expected average the results become. For example, when flipping a coin, the expected average is to get heads half the time and tails half the time, but in just 10 coin flips, it would not be too extraordinary to end up with 3 heads and 7 tails. However, if a coin was flipped 1,000 times, the result would be much closer to the 50/50 average that was expected. Where healthcare is concerned, the law of large numbers can be applied to the medical costs of people who come together as a group, such as the membership of Liberty HealthShare.
In the town of Hutchison, Kansas there is a little known, exciting secret. And it's not just in Hutchinson. It may be in your town too. It could be a place you pass every day without realizing what it could be doing for you. What is it? A surgery center. Surgery centers are medical facilities that provide outpatient surgeries and other short-stay procedures. You may or may not be aware that most outpatient procedures can be performed in local surgery centers.
During 2012, the average health care spending per person in the United States was $8,895, which is among the highest rates of healthcare spending in the world. In general, the medical care available today is expensive because of all the training, research, administration, and technology involved in making the care possible. This can be further broken down into specific aspects of care and actions of patients and health care professionals that contribute to high overall medical costs in the United States. Here are a few:
With the new Affordable Care Act (ACA) now passed into law and in full effect, people are wondering what options they have to pay for their medical costs. One approach that isn’t commonly talked about is healthcare sharing or medical cost sharing. It is acknowledged in the ACA, but many people do not know about it. Of those who have heard of medical cost sharing, many are confused as to what it really is and how it works. Let’s start by saying medical cost sharing it IS NOT insurance, it IS legal, and it has been around for quite some time in faith communities. In fact, it is a biblical approach to paying for unexpected and unaffordable healthcare costs.