Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Case of the Missing Liberty Reimbursements

Well, we called Liberty again to check in on two checks that, according to our ShareBox, had been issued to us on November 1. We verified our address with the woman we spoke to and everything matched perfectly. At the time of our call, we were about 3 weeks out from when Liberty (according to their own records) issued the check. Naturally, the US Postal Service was blamed for the delay. It must’ve gotten lost in the mail is becoming the equivalent of the dog ate my homework. The good news is it looks like our call on November 20 triggered activity on a third payment, which was sent on November 21, per our ShareBox. Thus, we’re set up for an interesting experiment – which reimbursement will arrive first? Will either arrive at all? These are the same payments we had to call about just to get processed (so it took a while to just get the checks issued…assuming they actually were).

When we asked if they could just cancel the checks and re-issue new checks we were told that the policy is to wait 60 days before new checks could be issued. Naturally, that policy couldn’t be adjusted in this situation (it is, after all, a “policy”) so we continue our wait. If they weren’t issued, and it’s a way to conserve cash, we were hoping our call might have triggered some action.

On a side note, according to Google Maps, we are exactly 50 miles from Liberty Healthshare’s HQ’s – these aren’t being sent cross country. Of course, we pride ourselves on trying to be balanced…it’s possible the checks did get lost in the mail so we’ll keep you updated.


  1. As I understand your posts, you have had Liberty HealthShare for almost a full year and have not yet been reimbursed for ANY of your eligible medical expenses. I understand that the company may have been overwhelmed by their growing popularity but I find their poor reimbursement record to be very alarming.

    You have been diligent in blogging your experience with Liberty and I can only assume your attention to detail when it comes to filing the required invoices, authorizations, etc. for reimbursement thru Liberty's ShareBox system is equally thorough.

    I am healthy and generally only see my doctor once a year for a wellness exam--the type of insured that Liberty is well suited to. I assume the claims you have submitted for reimbursement are relatively small. If Liberty has not paid any of these small claims after many months, what might they do with large bills for emergency surgery or a cancer diagnosis? and if a person requires surgery or expensive tests and treatments, are they going to be both physically and financially able to endure Liberty's system hassles and delays to secure payment?

    According to the billing department of my small rural health network, they do not have any experience with Liberty HealthShare. They indicated that I would be classified as Self-Pay and would receive a 30% self-pay discount. Invoices would be sent to me that I could then submit to Liberty for reimbursement. While this is better than your experience of pre-payment, long delays in obtaining reimbursement from Liberty could be very problematic for large bills.

    The least expensive Bronze ACA plan available to me in 2019 will be $590/month with $7400 deductible and 40% co-insurance to $7900 maximum out of pocket.

    I am not subject to the AMT tax and minimize my taxable income with IRA and SEP account deductions so the tax savings I would get from the self-employed health insurance tax deduction of the ACA plan would almost offset the monthly premium savings of the non-tax deductible Liberty plan. The big difference of course would be the $1000 vs $7400 deductibles but I have never incurred $1000 in annual medical expense for that to be a consideration. Hopefully my good health continues.

    Thank you again for sharing your Liberty experience. I hope you will continue to provide updates.

  2. We have only received one reimbursement. We'll see if the three reimbursements their website (and customer service) indicate have been sent ever arrive. Again, this has been for nothing but basic wellness visits. You can find positive reviews on blogs but my experience is that those posts seem to be pushing referral links rather than documenting what actually happens. That's why we wanted to be so detailed. I feel fortunate we have not had to endure a more serious medical diagnosis or illness this year. There's a tremendous amount of administrative detail and frustration tracking things down on both the provider and Liberty side. Like you said, we are detail oriented people. I often say to my wife, "What if people weren't like us, how would they even deal with this?" It may be more efficient if your provider works directly with Liberty but that doesn't explain the slow reimbursements we've experienced. That said, if I could adjust my AGI down to a point I get a bit of a subsidy then get the SE tax savings from the premium deduction and HSA I'd gladly go with a different option. I am absolutely ok with a $7,400 deductible I trust vs. hoping things work out with Liberty (assuming costs are within a reasonable range). And that's the tricky part...weighing the excess cost vs. Liberty inefficiency. We'll have some more details to share as we get to the end of the year.

  3. Only the government could develop a plan this screwed up. If we work less, we get subsidies to buy health insurance with large deductibles that we would need to work harder in order to afford.

    I have always thought buying health insurance was a way of renting peace of mind. I don't expect insurance to pay for sore throats and sniffles, but I want the security of having really big, awful unexpected stuff covered--heart attacks, strokes, cancer, etc.

    Based upon your experience with simple wellness claims, I am not sure Liberty can offer me that peace of mind.

  4. It's funny, I hear friends and family talk about the health insurance debate but they all have employer provided insurance. The portion of Americans in our situation is large in number but small as a percentage of the country overall. We are in the middle of it. The silver lining is it forces us to learn more and get educated on the system. Others with employer provided coverage are more apt to run to the doctor with the first sniffle - this is part of the problem. And look, at the end of the day I feel lucky and there are worse problems to have...but for someone who likes efficiency and disrupting where problems exist this is certainly frustrating.

  5. I had submitted a bunch of bills to liberty in late 2018. Several weeks later I found out I was missing detail they wanted. (I called and asked the status - they didn't tell me without prompting.) I resubmitted the bills including:

    - The procedure code
    - The healthcare provider
    - A detailed bill from BCBS (We still have BCBS. Liberty is a test for when we do early retirement.)

    I had paid the amount that the BCBS Explanation of Benefits said I owed.

    I resubmitted the bills with the above information on Jan 28th. This time they were accepted. Sometime between Feb 23 and Mar 2(I was gone during that week) I received about 5 checks from Liberty including a big check for $1700 for a cat scan. So I was pleased.

    Guess I'll stick with them for now and hope for the best.
    PS I do hate losing out the HSA deduction since we pay for our long term care insurance using HSA funds. When we can't deduct HSA contributions, that will make our LTC insurance increase by whatever our tax rate is. Bummer.

    1. BTW, the success story was written by me, Jim :-)

    2. Thanks Jim - we recently got another couple checks but they came later than they had promised (after multiple other promises). Still working on reimbursement for flu shots...flu shots from November! I can't imagine the anxiety of working with Liberty with a serious condition. They are simply overwhelmed operationally, have extremely poor processes and I believe, because of that, struggle with working capital/cash flow.