The past few years have held some interesting developments in various industries. In the hotel and hospitality arena, for instance, Airbnb has taken the world by storm, putting choice regarding travel into the hands of the consumer. It's no longer the expectation that travel must include a hotel stay and the associated costs you can be guaranteed to incur. Instead, travelers can choose not only the amount they prefer to pay, but also the arrangements, the proximity to their destination, and how much they want to engage with and experience what the particular location has to offer.Staying with a host who is physically on the premises offers an opportunity to meet new people and even form friendships in a way that hotel travel simply cannot.
Another well-known example of this kind of "disruption" of an industry is that of Uber and Lyft within the transportation industry. Whereas options for travel used to be limited to taxis or public transportation, individuals now have the power to hail a ride using a smartphone app, to pay securely through the same app, and even to alert a friend of their location and route. These ride-sharing companies come in at roughly the same cost as taxis, if not cheaper, depending on the location and time of day. There are even ways to share rides with others, which cuts the cost of a ride even more.
Resale of unwanted new and used items is now simple and straightforward, thanks to Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and other web-based platforms that make it possible for anyone with an internet connection to get their items in front of hundreds to thousands of would-be buyers. Forget yard sales; this can be done from the comfort of your couch. Platforms like Etsy, an online store specializing in handmade, "up-cycled", recycled, and vintage items allow artists and vendors to gain a following and get what their work is actually worth, with little overhead. Instead of having to rent a booth at an antique mall or craft fair, or arranging a gallery show, they are able to widen their audience, making it possible for customers all over the world to view and purchase their items.
So what does all of this have to do with healthcare sharing? On the surface, maybe not much, but when you take a look at what is making these companies and their platforms successful, there are a few key essentials Liberty HealthShare shares in common.
- Freedom: Liberty HealthShare allows and encourages members to make informed decisions about their participation in our ministry, in much the same way as these companies promote personal freedom and choice for their users.
- Personal responsibility: With freedom comes responsibility. Liberty HealthShare members are tasked with understanding the ministry's model and Sharing Guidelines, and with stewarding their health and the resources of the community as they engage with the healthcare industry. Vendors and customers of the companies listed above are asked to agree to some basic expectations for conduct and to then engage with one another with respect and consideration. Rather than coerce participants with regulations, taxes, and other government tools, individuals are given the freedom to either participate under the established guidelines or take their business elsewhere.
- Value: Because Liberty HealthShare members are self-pay patients, they have the opportunity to work with their healthcare providers to make sure they are only undergoing the testing and care that is absolutely necessary, and that they are getting it at a reasonable price. In the same way, customers of these various businesses and platforms demonstrate their values by spending their money on those good and services they deem worthy, and not on others. When options are not limited to certain company(ies) or provider(s), customers can choose the best value for their money.
- Relationships: At the heart of Liberty HealthShare is community. What the ministry makes possible is the sharing of medical bills among like-minded members, as well as an avenue to send encouragement and commitment to prayer. Users of all of the above platforms and services are also able to engage directly with one another, creating a sense of community that simply cannot be found when a bureaucracy functions as the intermediary. In every instance, relationships are beneficial, fostering accountability and a sense of common purpose.
Liberty HealthShare members agree to a statement of Christian beliefs, a portion of which states that our rights come from God, and not from man. The outgrowth of that belief is an acknowledgment that our members, not the government or a bureaucratic system, know what is best for their families. We believe that when individuals are given freedom to make those choices, everyone benefits. Customers of the many industry disrupters we've listed above get to experience the practical ways in which freedom makes for better business. Liberty HealthShare believes the same is true where healthcare is concerned.