When members join Liberty HealthShare, we understand they must undergo a "paradigm shift" in their engagement with the healthcare system, especially if they have previously used a third-party payer. That's why many of our blog posts are educational in nature - we know it takes some repetition and explanation in order for our members to understand and embrace the healthcare sharing mentality.
We often get emails from members who simply want to say "thank you" to our staff and membership community for the part we have played in their health journey. It's always encouraging to us when we hear from happy members, but it's particularly rewarding when a member has obviously taken the time to understand and live out the stewardship values we hold dear.
Recently, Jim F. from Montana sent us one such note. One month after joining Liberty HealthShare in November 2016, he suffered a significant injury and had to undergo surgery. Although he struggled with submitting such large expenses to Liberty, he trusted that our sharing community would be able to help him bear this unexpected burden and came away impressed. We reached back out to Jim to ask him a few questions about his experience.
How did you find and ultimately choose Liberty?
I found myself in a position to retire early. When that happened, I had to find a new way to pay for my medical expenses. I did a web search and, when I saw what was shareable through Liberty, I was very impressed. The low monthly share amounts almost seemed too good to be true. I also grew up in a Mennonite community, so when I saw that Liberty's roots were in a Mennonite ministry, I felt a connection.
What experience(s) have defined your membership?
In December of 2016, my wife Nancy and I were visiting my sister in a nursing home. We were adjusting her position in bed, and I tore my rotator cuff in the process. I had torn the opposite one five years earlier at work, so I knew delaying treatment was not an option. I ultimately underwent surgery the following February.
I don't mind paying for things, and I never want to take advantage. I felt terrible submitting such large bills to Liberty, especially as a brand new member, but I had to trust that I was on the receiving end in this case, and we moved ahead. The costs amounted to over $30,000. I thought that would be a huge problem, but Liberty came through.
In all my dealings with Liberty, I make sure to present things exactly as they are without holding anything back. Then I let them sort everything out for me. I haven't had any trouble.
What advice would you give a new Liberty HealthShare member about how they can be successful in their membership?
Honestly, the only problem I encountered was with my provider. I live in a very small town with limited options for surgical intervention. The hospital where I had my surgery refused to work with Liberty on billing or pricing, so I had to pay upfront for my treatment. Thankfully, I was given a self-pay rate, and I was able to pass that discount on to Liberty when I submitted my receipts for reimbursement. However, I know Liberty would likely have been able to secure even lower costs if they had been able to negotiate with the provider. That's why it's so important for members to confirm ahead of time that their providers are in sync with Liberty.*
What is one of your favorite parts of membership?
I like the monthly newsletters. I appreciate the member testimonials because they represent real people who have not only been impacted by the rising costs of healthcare but whose costs have also been shared by their fellow members. That's the way it's supposed to be.
What would you tell someone who is considering membership?
For a person who is a good steward of their own health and is looking for a way to pay for healthcare costs, Liberty is tops. We highly recommend Liberty to all our friends. Our daughter and son are both considering becoming members.
I also really appreciated the guidance I received through the HealthTrac health coaching program. I graduated after a few months in the program. I would have been fine with staying on it as long as I needed to in order to get my health in a better place.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We want to thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Since my surgery, my wife and I have had a few smaller medical expenses that we have not submitted for sharing. We're happy to take care of those costs ourselves after everything our fellow members and Liberty have done for us.
Jim, your care for your health, your finances, and the finances of this community serve as an encouragement to Liberty staff and a challenge to your fellow members. Thank you for taking the time to reflect on your healthcare sharing experience. We appreciate you!
*Visit the Provider List on our website to search for providers who have worked with Liberty in the past. The New Member Packet you received when you joined Liberty also contains a form you can use to nominate your physician or provider. Once that's submitted to us, one of our provider relations representatives will reach out and discuss Liberty HealthShare with him or her.