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Current Events & Hot Topics Current Events & Hot Topics

Christian alternative to ObamaCare growing fast as deadline nears

Posted by on Mar. 4, 2014 at 7:39 AM
  • 27 Replies
1 mom liked this


With just weeks left to sign up for insurance on HealthCare.gov, a growing number of people are opting to enroll in a Christian alternative to traditional health insurance. 

Nationwide networks of fellow believers help share each other's major medical bills through what's known as health care sharing ministries. 

"It works just like insurance. I have an insurance card. I show it just like anyone else would. I have a deductible. I have a monthly premium that I pay," explained Eileen Wade, who joined the health care sharing ministry, Medi-Share, in 2011. 

The nation's three largest ministries boast more than 242,000 members, spanning all 50 states, who agree to live so-called biblical lifestyles -- meaning regular church attendance; no drugs, tobacco, or sex outside of marriage; and limited alcohol consumption. 

This kind of healthier lifestyle helps keep monthly premiums lower than that of other health insurers for most members. 

"There's definitely an economic benefit, a windfall if you would, by living healthier lives," said Medi-Share's CEO, Tony Meggs. 

Each of the ministries varies a bit in what they will and won't cover, but all are exempt from the Affordable Care Act's fines on those without health insurance. 

Under the plans, families or individuals generally are responsible for regular medical costs -- like annual check-ups. And bills for unexpected illnesses or accidents are eligible for "sharing" by the group. 

Critics, though, say because the ministries aren't technically insurance providers, they're not legally obligated to pay any of the medical bills that are submitted.   

They also don't come with the same kind of protections and promises that come with traditional health insurance, according to Ron Pollack, who is the executive director of Families USA, a health care consumer advocacy group. 

"If you know you're not going to get sick, if you know you're not going to have an accident, this could work out very well. The problem is none of us can guarantee that, and we want insurance that really insures," Pollack said. 

Each of the ministries is very upfront that there are no guarantees of payment for medical bills, but Meggs said those concerns are exaggerated, and that in 21 years Medi-Share has only had a handful of complaints related to coverage. 

The programs are only getting more popular. 

Since the launch of HealthCare.gov on Oct. 1, membership at each of the ministries has exploded, with nearly 30,000 new enrollees -- more than the number of people who selected a plan through ObamaCare in 24 states. 

In addition to the exemption from ObamaCare, Meggs said a big draw for members is the ministries' health plans don't cover many of the more controversial procedures that are covered under the Affordable Care Act, such as abortion. 

"Some of the qualifying plans in the Affordable Care Act are going to violate their conscience with some of the services that are mandated that the insurance plans cover. I think they're going to be looking at health care sharing ministries as an alternative," Meggs told FoxNews.com.

source

by on Mar. 4, 2014 at 7:39 AM
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Replies (1-10):
romalove
by Roma on Mar. 4, 2014 at 7:43 AM
1 mom liked this
I wonder what happens when there are several people with catastrophic illnesses at the same time. Since they may not be able to pay and aren't legally obligated to do so, what happens then?
candlegal
by Judy on Mar. 4, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Some of these have been in business several years.  I would imagine they have money put aside for a rainy day.  My daughter and her husband used to belong to one of them.  If I remember correctly, it was around $200 a month for their family of 4.

Quoting romalove: I wonder what happens when there are several people with catastrophic illnesses at the same time. Since they may not be able to pay and aren't legally obligated to do so, what happens then?


romalove
by Roma on Mar. 4, 2014 at 8:04 AM
That would not preclude what I posit.

Quoting candlegal:

Some of these have been in business several years.  I would imagine they have money put aside for a rainy day.  My daughter and her husband used to belong to one of them.  If I remember correctly, it was around $200 a month for their family of 4.

Quoting romalove: I wonder what happens when there are several people with catastrophic illnesses at the same time. Since they may not be able to pay and aren't legally obligated to do so, what happens then?

LauraKW
by "Dude!" on Mar. 4, 2014 at 8:09 AM
6 moms liked this
"Insurance" that doesn't guarantee it will pay your medical bills. Seems brilliant.
tcallisto
by Member on Mar. 4, 2014 at 8:15 AM
If my husband didn't have insurance through the railroad, this would be our route. I like not paying for procedures that would not be needed for my family. For the 12 years I worked before I became a sahm I worked for a catholic healthcare system, so many of the benefits are similar.

Of course, I would do more research before signing up, but it sounds like a good alternative.
mikiemom
by Ruby Member on Mar. 4, 2014 at 9:06 AM
2 moms liked this

Umm no, smart folks wouldn't pay for an alternative to insurance that doesn't have to pay for medical bills. Sounds like a scam, not surprised christians came up with the idea.

jessilin0113
by Platinum Member on Mar. 4, 2014 at 9:12 AM
I've run across a couple of these with my job. They're ok but pretty strict on what they would cover. Still left the patients with some pretty sizeable bills, and they don't have the negotiating powers of larger networks.
The_Doodle
by Member on Mar. 4, 2014 at 9:18 AM
2 moms liked this

I would not pay premiums into an insurance that isn't obligated to pay a portion of my medical bills.

SuperChicken
by on Mar. 4, 2014 at 9:19 AM
7 moms liked this

It seems like a niche market.  If having Christian "insurance" that has no obligation to actually provide any benefit makes people feel better than having real insurance that might provide a stranger with something they don't approve of, then have at it.    

I just hope it's not a having your cake and eating it too situation where they then turn around and cry for taxpayer help when their cancer treatments aren't covered by their "Christian alternative."   

candlegal
by Judy on Mar. 4, 2014 at 9:23 AM

My daughter used samaritan insurance.   The BBB gives them an A+.   She had them for a couple of years and it was a good fit for them.

Quoting tcallisto: If my husband didn't have insurance through the railroad, this would be our route. I like not paying for procedures that would not be needed for my family. For the 12 years I worked before I became a sahm I worked for a catholic healthcare system, so many of the benefits are similar. Of course, I would do more research before signing up, but it sounds like a good alternative.


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