Some years ago when I arrived at a new pastorate, I was handed a health care “bill” by the financial secretary. She didn’t know what it was and left it to me to figure out. Seems my predecessor made some kind of arrangement with one of the lay members to enroll the member in a Christian health cost sharing deal. Thus, the church was “billed” for a contribution because some anonymous member of the sharing group, not the guy in my church, had surgery and we were supposed to pitch in on the bill.
That was my first exposure to a religious health cost sharing group. I ditched the bill. The layman, who was always seemed to have a list of reasons why his church should pay his bills, had moved on to another church anyway.
Here’s a Wall Street Journal story from June that I have been sitting on for a while.
Religious organizations where members help pay each other’s medical bills have grown from niche insurance alternatives to operations bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars, an increase that is also driving more consumer complaints and state scrutiny.
More than a million people have joined the groups, known as health-care sharing ministries, up from an estimated 200,000 before the Affordable Care Act, which granted members an exemption from the law’s penalty for not having health insurance. The organizations generally provide a health-care cost-sharing arrangement among people with similar religious beliefs, and their cost is often far lower than full health insurance.
I know some people that do this health sharing. I never was comfortable with it. Seems to me the business model cannot possibly work on any large scale. Maybe Obamacare stymied this market but, according to the WSJ, the niche is growing. None of the people I know who are in this kind of non-insurance have complained about the system; so far, so good seems to be the word.
The idea of fellow Christians pooling their bills and resources and sharing them has an inherent appeal. I’m wary and am glad My health care costs are covered by the combination of public and private insurance. I’d hate to have a million dollar hospital bill and depend on what looks like largesse from unknown fellow Christians.
Money is still a root of all kinds of evil…and there’s a lot of money in this.
…so, someone educamate me on why I should not be wary. And what do my younger colleagues do for health insurance these days?
There are predictable replies to the skepticism I’m expressing here. Let’s see how many I am guessing right on.
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