From time to time, our members find themselves wearing the educator's hat when interacting with physicians and other staff at their providers' offices. Despite its long history, healthcare sharing is still a new concept to many, even those within the healthcare profession.
Michigan member Yvonne M. enrolled with Liberty HealthShare along with her husband in late 2015. Last year, she and her husband found themselves facing outright antagonism about their Liberty membership not once but four separate times over the course of one medical incident. Here is her story:
I originally became aware of LHS through a health newsletter I read. It mentioned another way to approach healthcare through the sharing of expenses. My husband and I are healthy, eating a plant-based, whole foods diet and leading active lives. We value our health and we were instantly attracted by the fact that Liberty advocates good health for its members.
As new members, we were healthy and wanted to avoid unnecessary expense, so we held off going to see our doctor in 2016, even for a wellness visit. However, my husband unexpectedly got a cut on his leg from a displayed object at a local department store. A day or so later, he was having problems putting weight on that leg and his knee had swollen up to about two times its normal size.
We went to urgent care and they questioned the validity of our program. Even though they called Liberty to verify the information, they made us sign papers saying we would be responsible for the charges in case Liberty didn't share in them. They did see my husband, but this exchange was unnerving.
The next day, we went to see our primary care physician and he sent us to the emergency room. When we presented our Liberty HealthShare member ID card, we were told that our program was a second-rate "something" and not to be trusted. The staff member added that she had been working in her department for many years, that she had never seen anything like it, and that she didn't want to take our card. I told her that just because she hadn't ever heard of LHS didn't mean it didn't exist.
I must admit I was very nervous because I feared that she might be right, but ultimately, my husband was admitted for five days, so we determined something must have worked out in the billing department.
The day after his discharge, my husband had to go see a surgeon. When I called to make the appointment, the staff member didn't even want to make one because we were self-pay patients and part of a healthcare sharing ministry. I went around and around with the woman and she finally gave in after saying, "when you receive your bill, you will be sorry you were ever given an appointment." While she was typing our information into the computer, I could hear the other staff talking about us in the background.
We went the next day to see the surgeon as scheduled and when we signed in, we heard one of the staff members tell her coworker that "patients like these" (meaning us) could cost her job since she believed we would inevitably complain about our bill.
Well, let me just say, "our hearts rejoice!" Membership with Liberty HealthShare has proven to be far more than our providers or we expected it to be. After our annual unshared amount, our eligible bills have been shared. We can only say, "thank you!" It isn’t too good to be true!
Considering our uphill climb, I want to encourage all my fellow members to talk with their doctors and providers about Liberty. Make sure you educate yourself so you can explain it to those who are not familiar with healthcare sharing. Read all the literature, understand the Sharing Guidelines, get to know the process, and ask questions if you don’t understand.
We are grateful that membership allows us to choose the kind of healthcare we want and what doctors we want to oversee it. Since our experience last year, I have had lengthy conversations about Liberty with my husband’s internal medicine physician. He invites his patients to negotiate costs, so he was excited to learn more about healthcare sharing. I also shared a magazine article about Liberty with my chiropractor’s office so they would understand the concept. It’s a blessing to be part of Liberty HealthShare. We’re happy to continue telling others about it.
Yvonne, your perseverance is an encouragement to us here at Liberty HealthShare. You have taken responsibility for yourself as a healthcare sharing member and, through each interaction with physicians and providers, you are helping to restore responsibility to the healthcare industry. Thank you for sharing your story and for being a Liberty member!