More are joining faith-based Obamacare alternatives
(BY ANDY MARSO, KANSAS CITY STAR) When Ron Drummond had a routine hernia surgery last year, he didn’t bill any insurance company. Instead, he got 25 to 30 personal checks from people he barely knows, many accompanied by a note saying the sender was praying for him.
Drummond is a member of a Christian “health care sharing ministry” — a charity in which members pledge monthly dues to help each other cover unexpected medical expenses.
It sounds like health insurance, in that it’s a group of people pooling medical risk. But the charities say they’re different because they’re based on faith, not regulations.
“This is not insurance,” Drummond said. “There is no guarantee everyone is going to pay in.”
As premiums and deductibles for individual health plans have increased under the Affordable Care Act — commonly called Obamacare — more people are turning to such ministries rather than buying traditional health insurance.
The health sharing ministries are explicitly exempt from ACA requirements, so they can offer monthly dues that are lower than typical insurance premiums, especially for people who accept less coverage and more personal risk.
Dr. Dave Weldon, a physician and former Republican congressman from Florida, is president of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries. The alliance represents the three largest such groups in the United States: Samaritan Ministries, Christian Care Ministries and Christian Health Care Ministries.
Weldon said the Obamacare carve-out only applies to ministries founded before Jan. 1, 2000. It was meant to accommodate groups like the Amish and Mennonites, who were already exempt from other federal programs on religious grounds.
“The Democrats put the exemption in because they didn’t want these people subject to the (tax) penalty (for not carrying insurance) and they’ve grown astronomically ever since,” Weldon said. READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT KANSAS CITY STAR