Christian Health Care Sharing Plans Exempt from ObamaCare Mandate
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?
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.
- 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.