Christian Health Share plans are taking center stage now that traditional health insurance plans are becoming out of reach for many families. Includes a Liberty health share review, and also if “Mormons” can use a Health Share.
One day I got my new insurance premium. It had officially surpassed my mortgage payment. That is what made me consider a healthshare.
FYI, I also did a podcast on why we chose a healthshare (be sure to subscribe!!!!)
Why We Chose a Health Share
We were now paying almost $1,000/month for an insurance policy with a $5,500 deductible. We had never used anything but preventative medicine from them. Ever since the affordable care act was passed, our insurance rates just skyrocketed.
We’d paid all medical expenses else out of pocket for the entire 6 years we’d been on the plan.
I treat a lot at home, and I dread taking my kids to the doctor — so in reality (and through the grace of God) we hadn’t used the health care system much at all.
Anyway, I knew something had to change. Our insurance was going up another 20% a year, and I just had enough. It wasn’t worth it anymore.
When we had started on this same insurance (with a $3,500 dollar deductible) 6 years ago, the cost was just around $400.
I had heard and read a lot about Health Shares. A lot of bloggers had started to use them.
But I was reticent. I’ve been the one who’s billed out the cost of a new car after just 8 hours of work.
I get that health care can entirely ruin you.
I also got (because I read it ALL over their website) that Health Shares are NOT insurance.
Health Share Plans
I know a lot of people call it the Mormon church, but it’s true name is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
As a member of that — we aren’t able to sign up for all of the health shares. Some just don’t accept Mormons, and some have you sign a document that goes against your beliefs (and I always worry they could come back if I had a big claim and say that what I signed went against my personal beliefs).
Most often, those beliefs are based on what we believe about the Godhead. That’s a topic for another day, just be wary of signing something you’re not entirely aligned with.
FYI, just recently Christian Healthcare Ministries changed their faith statement to something that I could not agree with. Also, Samaritan Ministries had a faith statement that conflicted with my religious beliefs.
None of these health shares are run by the LDS church.
I will also say that some of the language used by both Liberty, and more so Christian Health Ministries was off-putting. I don’t know why — but I have to say I feel more at home with Zion (and I write about that switch in this article).
I also did a podcast with Zion Healthshare more on what exactly a healthshare is and who it’s good for:
Why aren’t health shares insurance?
First off, they aren’t governed by the state entities that cover insurance. They are their own thing.
If mainstream health insurance plans don’t pay your health care costs, you have set lines of recourse (although, it is often due to their rules, so it would not rule in your favor anyway).
Also, insurance is run state by state, so since I am going with a health share that is in another state — it clearly isn’t insurance.
2019 Update: I made the choice to leave Liberty Healthshare and switched to Zion Healthshare. I was just having such poor experiences with Liberty and I am not sure they will ever pay our bills. That post I linked tells all about why we switched, etc. AND, in 2020 I joined their DPC Model (basically a consierge doctor) in my area and I pay the same amount WITH that doctor, and for Zion.
What is health sharing?
To me, it’s the basic idea of why health insurance was started.
I make my monthly share amount(of $500) every month. It goes into a pot to pay out insurance expenses of others.
It is run by a religious organization, and you are able to take the religious exemption out of insurance (if that’s still mandated when this post goes live).
It is also governed by a managing board that adjusts the plan to stay solvent.
They are very clear that your health bills are YOUR health bills.
However, if there is money in the pot (which there has been for many consecutive years) they pay your bills.
But in reality, YOUR medical costs are YOUR medical costs even WITH insurance (fine print catches up people a LOT).
So often someone won’t be on your plan, or you went to the wrong hospital, or the moon was just a sliver and they don’t cover you on those days.
I just found out that the trauma surgeons at my own hospital won’t take the employees of the hospital’s insurance. We can ONLY go to our hospital, and our trauma surgeons are considered out of network.
How do health shares work when you go to the doctor?
When you visit your doctor, yu’d tell them you wanted to pay the cash price. I’d just pay it then, and get an itemized receipt. I’d then turn that into the health share (a VERY easy online process). Within a few weeks they’d process it, and give me the money.
So, if the provider fee is small, you will likely pay it, and then wait to be reimbursed. However, if it is a large stay at a hospital, they can sometimes remit payment to the hospital instead.
I do have a $1500 dollar deductible (sometimes called the annual unshared amount, initial unshareable amount) — so everything up to that point, I pay for myself (but you may want to still submit the receipts so it can count towards your deductible).
2019 update: With CHM I I had a $500/incident deductible. That means for each illness/injury I pay $500 and they chip in after that. So, as you look at insurances be thoughtful with that.
If I was at the hospital I would tell them I was using a religious health share (and cross my fingers that someone there had heard of it — they ARE getting more and more popular, many people at my hospital have heard of them). I’d also call the Health Share to tell them that I was in the hospital and get started on working out an arrangement.
They will negotiate with the hospital directly in these types of cases.
They pay the hospital after a few weeks, just like regular insurance.
FYI, the individual mandate giving a fee if you don’t have health insurance that was initially in the affordable care act is not required by federal law (although I’ve heard some states still require it).
Liberty Health Share Review
2020 Update: We left Liberty Healthshare and I talk about that in this post, but I felt like it was alright to leave my intial review intact (even though I no longer recommend them — and did end-up filing a Better Business Bureau complaint against them).
At the time of this initial writing, we had been on Liberty Health Share for a year.
We don’t go to the doctor often, which is why I was willing to try a health share.
We submitted flu vaccines (which are covered) and initially, they were denied, but when I called I quickly got a real human on the line and they quickly re-processed them, and then the doctor was paid (our doctor uses Chrisitan Health Shares frequently, and is willing to wait for the payment).
We have been to the doctor a couple of times, but we didn’t reach our $1500 dollar deductible so we never had a payout.
When we go to the doctor, I still submit it so that we can get credit on our deductible. Scanning it into their box is super simple.
The whole process is really easy, and everyone I have ever talked to has been SUPER nice.
Yup, I’m still worried they won’t pay — but I was worried that my regular insurance wouldn’t pay (at almost twice the monthly payment).
Liberty was very transparent last winter that they were behind on payments. They didn’t have enough for the amount of bills they had. I think this is true of most insurance or health share companies in the winter — but part of me was grateful they were so transparent about it (and part of me was worried).
And, in late 2018 they did increase our premium and deductible.
Liberty does not cover pre-existing conditions for the first few years (they phase in coverage for those items). They do pay for well-visits though.
They do not pay for vaccines for kids over the age of 1, but we have gone to our county health department to have that taken care of at no cost to us. While it’s inconvenient it works.
I am also on the Health Traq plan where a dietician checks up on me once a month and I am working to lose weight.
All in all, choosing a healthshare is the right choice for us. I don’t love it, but it works.
I can understand why you want reviews — I was SUPER nervous to change and I asked a LOT of people what they thought of the health share they were on.
If you have questions, please post them in the comments so I can answer them!
Tips For Joining a Health Share
It did seem like I was joining a cult when I signed up. The process is a little weird, and you do have to make a declaration of faith in order to do it (not all the time, Zion doesn’t require it).
It is made clear 400 times that they are NOT an insurance, so I do have some fear in the back of my head that they won’t pay if we ever got into trouble. However, they have paid every bill submitted to them in the past few years — always solvent. They certainly have a history of fulfilling their end of the bargain.
Some health shares do not cover pre-existing conditions, so that is something to consider.
Some health shares pay for preventative and some do not.
I can’t contribute to my HSA anymore because I am not an HSA-approved plan. 🙁
This type of health plan can’t be written off because it is NOT HEALTH INSURANCE. That is a very sad thing, and actually, the reason I didn’t join sooner (although I am SEEING people who write it off… so maybe look into that).
I ended up saving almost $350 each month by joining the share. Yes, I will pay a bit more in taxes by not having that insurance deduction, but at this point, it’s certainly worth it.
It can be a really nerve-wracking thing, and I’d love to tell you why I ended up picking the one I did.
There are a few options, so check out what works for you. I have found the workers on the phone have been very helpful!
I have an email all set-up to tell you which ones there are and why I went with the company I did. I’d love to send it to you. 🙂
This post was originally written in 2017 and has been updated.