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Christian Health Care Sharing Plans Exempt from ObamaCare Mandate

Updated on July 8, 2012
Cari Jean profile image

Cari Jean is a freelance writer and author. Her inspiring memoir "Having Faith" is available on Amazon. She resides in North Dakota.

With the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold Obamacare, including the mandate to have health insurance, many wonder what this means for Health Care in America. Is the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) going to do more harm than good? Is it really going to make health care more affordable?

Those Christians who are on health care sharing plans don't have to worry about the effect Obamacare has on their health insurance because these people are exempt from the mandate. Members who participate in such plans will not have to pay the fines that others without health insurance will be mandated to pay beginning in 2014. Such fines could be well over $2,000 per family by the year 2016.

What exactly is health care sharing and why are people who choose this alternative form of health insurance exempt from the mandate put in place by the PPACA?

Christian health care sharing plans offer members the chance to "bear one another's burdens."
Christian health care sharing plans offer members the chance to "bear one another's burdens." | Source

Health Care Sharing

Health care sharing simply means that a certain group of members share in one another's health care costs. Christians especially are drawn to these types of co-ops because they believe it is biblical. According to Galatians 6:2, part of obeying the law of Christ is to bear one another's burdens.

Health care sharing offers Christians a way to carry one another's burdens by paying for one another's medical bills while offering prayers and encouragement as well. Philippians 4:19 declares that God will meet all of our needs. Those who belong to Christian health care sharing co-ops believe by faith that their medical bills will get paid.

How do health care sharing plans work?

Like health insurance, potential members must go through an application process. Applicants can be denied because of certain medical conditions, such as congenital defects, obesity and other pre-existing conditions.

Applicants must agree to live a life that is based on biblical principles and must agree to not smoke, drink alcohol or do drugs. Members must also attend church regularly and part of the application process could require information from the member's pastor.

For those who qualify, belonging to such a co-op can be a saving grace. According to an article on msn.com, Mary Suitter, a 57-year-old mother of four, received over $35,000 from other members to help cover her medical expenses due to a recurrence of skin cancer.

Besides getting medical bills paid, Christian health care sharing co-ops can also set their own guidelines as to what medical expenses are paid for and which or not. For example, abortions are not paid for by co-op members.

Instead of paying premiums, each qualifying member is given a monthly fee. The fees depend on the member's age, number of family members and how much members believe they can afford to pay. Depending on which health care sharing plan the member belongs to, member's fees are either sent directly to another participating member who has a medical bill to pay or to a central office. These monthly fees can range anywhere from $50 to $500 per member. Members must also pay a yearly administrative fee.

Christian cost sharing plans are based on biblical principles.
Christian cost sharing plans are based on biblical principles. | Source
  • Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Hebrews 13:16)
  • How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1)
  • All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need. (Acts 2:44-45)

An Alternative to Health Insurance

While health care sharing plans can serve as an alternative to health insurance for those who are self-employed, those who cannot afford traditional health insurance or for those who are members because of their Christian beliefs, these plans do not work like typical health insurance plans.

There are no co-payments, deductibles or co-insurance. Instead, members must pay the required up front fee for medical services. Also, health care sharing plans cannot guarantee that medical bills will be paid.

Currently there are three major Christian health care sharing non profit organizations:

Exempt from ObamaCare

As stated on page 107 of the ObamaCare legislation,"...Exemptions from Individual Responsibility Requirements -- (A) In the case of an individual seeking exemption based on the individual's status as a member of an exempt religious sect or division, as a member of a health care sharing ministry..."

For Christians seeking an alternative to traditional health insurance, especially those who have no insurance due to the high cost of premiums, belonging to a health care sharing co-op just might be the answer. It will also allow them to be exempt from the mandate put into place under Obamacare.

Comments

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    • brakel2 profile image

      Audrey Selig 

      4 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi Cari Jean - This sounds like a great alternative to Obamacare. It probably won't work for everyone but does offer patients an alternative. It is great to drop by your hubs, as it has been a while. Hope this finds you in good health. My Firefox crashed, so sorry about this weird font. Keep up the good writing. Blessings. Audrey

    • profile image

      Lindsay 

      5 years ago

      Cari Jean and others: Have you all looked into Health Care Sharing and Christian health insurance alternatives more recently as more Obamacare mandates near? There are some great solutions like The Health Co-Op (www.thehealth.coop) out there.

    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      6 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      HealthyHanna - Thanks so much for your comment. Unfortunately, due to my congenital heart condition I do not qualify for Health Care Sharing but I do love the concept.

    • HealthyHanna profile image

      HealthyHanna 

      6 years ago from Utah

      I have heard of this before and I think it is a wonderful idea. From what I know, it has been working. Wish we had it in our area. Right now we have insurance, but some of my children are looking for affordable insurance.

    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Pollyannalana - so great to hear from you! I have not been good at reading hubs lately - I had to go back to work because my husband lost his job but I am still trying to do some writing. I'll have to check out Jackie Lynnley - good luck with trying not to be opinionated!!

    • Pollyannalana profile image

      Pollyannalana 

      7 years ago from US

      This is really interesting Cari Jean, I have never heard of this but it does seem a great idea. You seem to be doing great, I checked out a couple of your blogs, etc. Great work doing what is close to your heart. The way to go. I write as Jackie Lynnley now too and try to keep her from being opinionated, lol, well I do try. GB

      Polly

    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Lady_E - great to hear from you! Thanks so much for your comment. It is a great idea and I'm surprised that more people don't know about it.

    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      wealthmadehealthy - thanks so much for your comment. Also thanks for voting this up. I looked into this when we lost our health insurance but I didn't qualify due to my congenital heart defect. I think it is a great idea though and hopefully some people will find this information very beneficial.

    • Cari Jean profile imageAUTHOR

      Cari Jean 

      7 years ago from Bismarck, ND

      Happyboomernurse - thanks so much for your comment. As far as I understand it, these health care sharing plans would be exempt from having to pay the fines that Obamacare would impose for not having health insurance - just as the Amish will be exempt because they have their own health care system. These groups really had to lobby hard for this exemption and in they end, they won.

    • Lady_E profile image

      Elena 

      7 years ago from London, UK

      It's a great idea. Thanks for letting us know about it.

      Best Wishes.

    • Wealthmadehealthy profile image

      Wealthmadehealthy 

      7 years ago from Somewhere in the Lone Star State

      This hub contains wonderful information. There are many of us Christians out here who are actually unable to afford either medical insurance nor visits to a Dr. Thank you so much for this wonderful writing. Voted up so others will find this. Blessings to you.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 

      7 years ago from South Carolina

      I've never heard of this before but it sounds very interesting. Do you know how these health care sharing plans will be treated under Obamacare? Will they qualify as meeting the requirement that a person has proof of health care coverage?

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