Updated: Nov 5
I'm just going to start this post by stating: Health insurance in the USA kinda sucks.
It definitely sucks if you want to have a home birth.
I have given birth to two boys. My first started out at home and ended in the hospital. My second was completely at home. I had the same midwife for both. She charges $5500 for her prenatal visits+birth+postpartum visits.
At the time of my first pregnancy, I was paying around $300 monthly for a basic plan with Blue Shield at a deductible around $5000 (just for me). Even then, things like my ultrasounds cost me around $700 because I mistakenly went to someone outside my network. My original hospital bill was $8000. After arguing that I was a private client and did NOT get any doctor's checkup/tests done at the hospital as well as no overnight stay, my final bill went down to $800. At the time, when adding up my costs of the hospital, midwife, and services, I was close to birthing a 10-grand baby.
So what was the cost of my second home birth with the same midwife? Almost NOTHING. The only thing that changed was my health insurance (and not having to go to the hospital of course). Please keep in mind these are ballpark numbers and the cost of home birth (or birthing center) can be different for everyone.
About a year and a half ago, I discovered an alternative to health insurance with a company called Liberty Health Share. It is a cost-share service, not technically a health insurance. Now before you freak out and stop reading (all my friends are just terrified of not having health insurance!), know this is totally legal because they are religious (Christian) based. At first, this made me overlook them because I wouldn't call myself a Christian (for example I rarely go to church). While some services require a signature from your pastor, Liberty is pretty relaxed about it all. No one on the phone has asked me about my beliefs or required "proof". I can also confirm it's legit. It took a while but I have been receiving reimbursement checks including the one for my homebirth.
And you know what is amazing about Liberty? They are one of the few cost-share services that support home births. They believe that people who seek alternative care like chiropractic, acupuncture, etc tend to also lead healthier lives and thus have fewer medical issues.
Because cost-share services are structured differently from typical health Insurance (explained below), they are a heck of a lot CHEAPER. My family of 4 has a plan for $499 a month TOTAL with a "deductible" (they call it Annual Shared Amount) of $2200 TOTAL.
Do you know what else is amazing about them?
Each of us also gets 12 chiropractic sessions a year.
They "covered" my Acupuncture treatments.
They "covered" both my son's Frenectemys.
They "covered" my postpartum pelvic floor physical therapy.
They let me use a Naturopath for my wellness visits.
Incredible right? I have had care like I never thought I could in the states.
Now back to my birth...
The one thing they did NOT cover was genetic screenings. That being said, one of my tests got "covered" anyway. The test where they measure the back of the neck is so integrated into the general ultrasound that when they create your superbill (it's like a receipt with the insurance codes that you submit to Liberty for reimbursement), the code was just for the ultrasound. All of my blood tests done through CA screening were paid out of pocket but this is an optional test and was under $300 for me.
I also had to pay a percentage of some blood test but it was minimal.
How it works and the downsides to Liberty.
Here is a very general idea of how it works. I plan to do future posts with more instructions. I highly recommend doing your research on how it works IN DETAIL. You have to become your own biller and I wasted a lot of my time making mistakes.
As mentioned above, you typically pay as a cash patient and ask for the Superbill. You then submit the superbill online to Liberty and they reimburse you if it's approved. Unfortunately, because liberty is growing fast, they are incredibly slow to reimburse because they get overloaded with processing bills. So if you are racking up a lot of medical bills, the interest on your credit card can be costly. I still find this worth it because of how cheap the monthly payment is as well as the low deductible. They are also changing their protocols a lot because of their growth so even though I think I know how the system works, I call each time to double-check what I need to do anyway (don't worry, their wait calls are not long like typical health insurance companies).
If you have a pre-planned surgery, you can get the check sent ahead of time.
If you have an emergency, you can submit the unpaid bill to Liberty to get reimbursed before you pay.
I also check up on my bills once a month to see that everything was processed correctly. I'll be honest there has been more than one mistake on their end. But so have my regular health insurance. So while it's time-consuming to learn this system, I feel incredibly empowered knowing what I have access too, how it all works, and able to catch these mistakes.
In Network? Out of Network?
You can go to a doctor of your choosing! They have minimal requirements. My Naturopath needed to be an ND. My midwife needed to be a nursing Midwife, etc. That being said, ask Liberty every time if you need a prenote/case number before doing a certain service. (A prenote does NOT mean they agree to share into the cost so ask for clarification).
Check out more on Liberty
If you want to check Liberty out for yourself, hop on over to their website or call (855) 585-4237.
I do have one favor to ask. If you could mention my referral code: #232373686, you would be helping to support my family. <3
Now if you live in Los Angeles, here are all my highly recommended referrals who I can confirm worked with Liberty and offer superb service:
USC Keck Medicine: Aaron Epstein
Near Korea Town
TLC Midwifery: Davi Khalsa
Michelle Gerber (She is also a midwife at TLC) Silverlake (across from Silverlake Pediatrics so we go to both)
Chiropractor for the whole family:
Berlin Wellness: Erika
Wilshire (close to the Pediatric Frenectomy place)
Post-Partum Pelvic Floor Specialist
Bebe PT (they have a great billing department)
Katy Frame (she can do prenatal and pediatric as well)
The Breath Institute
I hope this helps! Please write in the comments below any questions you have and I will do my best to help. If you are reading this and you are pregnant: Congrats! And lastly please give liberty my referral code: #232373686. I really appreciate the support!
*Update November 2020: Just like all health insurance companies, Liberty had to raise their monthly fees. We now pay $675 a month.