Sunday, December 16, 2018

Our Choice for 2019

As of January 1, 2019 we will no longer be Liberty Healthshare customers. Our experience in 2018 didn’t instill any confidence that a more complex medical situation would be covered by Liberty. And if it would be “covered” it wouldn’t be covered completely or in a timely manner. With the expansion of short term health insurance options in Ohio we saw this as a viable option. Thus, our 2019 health insurance will be the following plan from United Healthcare (Golden Rule Insurance):

Short Term Medical Plus Elite A - $2M total benefit per person, $5,000 deductible per person, 0% co-insurance and $0 co-pay after deductibles

This plan cost $3,739 for the year, which amounts to about $311 a month. This included a $20 one-time application fee. We felt this met our criteria and the fact our health care providers accept this insurance was a huge benefit. These insurance policies certainly present their own degree of risk so it’s not full proof but we’ll be happy to share our experience with short term insurance.

We still have a few posts to share more information about our Liberty experience. We feel it’s important to share all the details to anyone who may be looking at Liberty in the future. Our goal is to simply present all the facts about our Liberty experience. Whether someone chooses to work with Liberty in the future is a personal decision but at least they’ll have our details as an input.

As for canceling with Liberty? A pretty straightforward experience. You need to notify Liberty by the 20th of your last month. We did need to report a reason for leaving which we record as follows:

Reason for Cancellation: The administrative burden of working with a health care provider that does not bill directly to Liberty. Then the subsequent lack of clarity on where our bills stand and delay in reimbursement from Liberty. The administrative burden was extensive for just basic wellness visits so we were not confident a significant medical incident would be adequately covered. “

Interestingly enough we did see a flurry of activity with our outstanding bills after this cancellation. We still have not received our two outstanding “lost in the mail” reimbursements. We hope we’ll still be able to work with Liberty to re-send these checks after the 60 day period is up for “lost” checks.

So what happens to the blog? We still have more work to do to share our full experience and there are more details to share. We’ll also share some details about our short term health insurance experience. Stay tuned and please let us know if you have any questions!


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  2. Do you know if Liberty would accept someone who went through outpatient treatment for alcohol related issues in the past 6 months? Also, do you know if they cover on-going (weekly) visits with an accupunturist and mental health therapist?

  3. Hi Chelsea - visits with an accupuncturist or mental health therapist would not be covered. You can review the sharing guidelines to see the exact wording. In terms of the alcohol outpatient treatment, I don't think that would prevent you from joining but there's a couple things to consider: (a) Would any future true medical issues be tied to the alcohol treatment and thus be considered a "pre-existing" condition? Something to ask Liberty (b) Any medical issue that occurs under the effects of alcohol is not covered. I would encourage you to discuss any questions openly with Liberty - best wishes!

  4. This has been a very valuable resource in trying to decide what I am doing once my COBRA coverage ends.
    Questions after looking at your short term care choice.
    Did this concern you?
    Overall I get the hassle factor has to enter into the decision. If you didn't have kids would that have been more manageable with just your and your wife?

    1. Hi there, glad the content has been helpful! The statement you quoted did not concern me. We are well aware of the fact it does not cover all that an ACA compliant plan covers. A few of our earlier posts outlined what we learned. We went into this well researched so we understand the differences between an ACA compliant plan and a short term plan.

      In terms of your other question, I don't think not having kids would have made Liberty more efficient. We'd just have less medical bills so in that sense we'd have to deal with them less but the reimbursements would still have been very slow and the administrative burden would still be high.

  5. I would NEVER recommend Liberty after a horrible one year experience. Still trying to get bills paid- I give them what they say they want then they want something else. Reps are clueless. They don’t message you about your submissions if they need something, they wait for you to figure it out and call. Extremely poor communication and weasley as hell. Getting out ASAP.

    1. We are very detail much so that we documented our experience on a blog. Nonetheless, it still seems we never have the right detail. A side benefit of things being confusing...slower cash flow out the door.

  6. Dan,
    Thanks for your blog. Seems like I've asked this before but I can't find it:

    What does getting temporary insurance do for you in terms of maintaining insurance for pre-existing conditions? If you had this insurance and develop a condition:
    1) will you be able to buy a different insurance plan that will cover your condition without paying a higher fee because of the condition?
    2) Will you be able to renew the plan you have now? It's a short term plan. Does that mean it's not really meant for you to renew? If you can renew the short term policy, will the price go way up because you now have a condition? Do they evaluate the price of the policy with each renewal and add in the cost to cover the new condition(s)?

    This insurance thing is a mess. A horrible mess. And I'm sure a lot of it is that they now have million dollar treatments that extend life for 6 months. That's a horrible dilema too - treatments that do some good for a short time but cost a fortune. Of course you want it but who can afford it?


  7. Hi Jim - if we develop a pre-existing condition we would have a hard time being renewed in our current plan since they don't cover pre-existing condition. Now, with certain pre-existing conditions they might still offer a policy but not cover that condition. With other, more serious conditions, I don't think they'd even extend the policy to you. To "renew" you'd still need to update your health history so it's not like you are grandfathered in regardless of a new condition. Thus, if we developed a serious condition at time of renewal we would choose an ACA plan that offers coverage for pre-existing conditions. It would be more expensive but that would seem to be the least of our worries in a situation like that.

    I hope that helps...and yes, it's a mess!

  8. Hi Dan,
    Great job with the details in your blog. I'm currently with Liberty for a bit over a year, and my experience has been similar to you in a couple of aspects.
    I'm unfortunately stuck on the extra $80/month to be a part of their HealthTrac program since my cholesterol is a bit high. Naturally I'm making improvements, but it's still not in their acceptable range. That's been a big source of frustration for me. The other item is the poor visibility to what is truly going on with your ShareBox. I didn't hit expenses that brought my family over the AUA, so I have yet to get any reimbursement payments from them.

    I'd love to just find a simple catastrophic plan, and self-insure for routine items. Most doctors have pretty reasonable rates if you're self-pay, and even urgent care is a fairly reasonable option for simple issues.
    The only thing preventing me from dropping Liberty is how to handle that unexpected $300k bill.


    1. John - sorry, must have missed this comment! Thanks for writing. I appreciate the challenge you are facing. The closest thing I've found to a catastrophic plan is the short term health insurance plan we are on from United Healthcare. It has worked fine for our needs. I'm not sure to what extent the cholesterol would classify as a "pre-existing condition" under the plan we are on (it probably would) but it's worth looking into. Obviously getting that into an acceptable range is valuable beyond applying for health insurance but I would at least encourage looking at short term health insurance. You just need to really do the detailed research before signing up. See some of my older posts from October/November on what we found from our research. Good luck!

  9. Hi John - so far our experience with a short-term health insurance plan from United Healthcare has been good. Primarily because it's worked as described. We had our first doctor visit and the bill was discounted based on the rate negotiated by United Healthcare then we just paid the rest. The challenge with a short term plan is pre-existing conditions and we are fortunate in that we have nothing significant. In Ohio these plans last 364 days so if we develop a pre-existing condition in the year we would sign-up for an ACA eligible plan next go around. That's the best alternative we've found. I am relieved we are done with Liberty and have essentially written off the reimbursements they still owe us. If we get them, great, but I am not hopeful.