Faith-based alliances may be exempt from health-insurance mandate; Kentucky court case part of national question

Though the health-refom law requires all Americans to be enrolled in a health-insurance plan by 2014, Christians can be exempt if they pool their risk. Such is the message being spread by Samaritan Ministries and Christian Care Ministry.

Melissa Maynard of Stateline, a nonpartisan news service of the Pew Center on the States, reports the new law “does in fact contain language exempting faith-based groups from the requirement.” That’s because these ministries fall under the umbrella of “health care sharing ministries,” in which members pool their money and their risk to help each other cover their medical expenses.
Christian Care Ministry is hoping to target 11 million Americans “it estimates profess Christian faith and are not covered by an employer’s insurance plan,” Maynard reports. Currently, only 100,000 households nationwide are members of health care sharing ministries.
However, states have a major role to play in implementing the law, and last fall, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Christian Care Ministry should be considered a regulated insurance plan since its members pool their risk. The group says it believes an agreement can be reached with the state, Maynard reports.
The issue will be debated in Arizona, Georgia, Indiana, Maine, Montana, North Carolina and South Carolina this year, in part because conservative legislators are eager to sidestep implementation of the health reform law. (Read more)
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