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[contextly_sidebar id="IIfQZnsA7rd5pH9cB39zv3AL9tHPUr7O"]Christians who can't stand Barack Obama's socialist government takeover of healthcare have been rushing to buy into "health care sharing ministries," which give them an affordable alternative to actually having insurance, as long as they don't mind not having any guarantee of coverage, being excluded for having pre-existing conditions, and not being covered for having sinful lady parts. Best of all, it's all based on sharing Christ's love, as long as you don't get anything too seriously expensive. There's probably something in Paul's Epistle to the Actuaries about that: "Heal the sick, until their coverage cap be reached."

The plans, with names like "Medi-Share," "Samaritan Ministries International," "Christian Healthcare Ministries," or "Rev. Jim Bob's Holy House Of Healthy Healing," look something like health insurance, in that members pay a set monthly amount, either to a central pool or directly to another member who has medical costs, and in return, they hope that if they get sick, the other members will pay for their medical bills. Except unlike real insurance, there's no contractual guarantee of coverage: You join up, pay in, and hope for the best.

members are advised to trust that God will provide. The ministries say the payment system is helping Christians fulfill a biblical mandate to share one another’s burdens.

“Our only assets are the good will and continued participation of our members,” said James Lansberry, executive vice president of Samaritan[.]

Depending on the group, members generally have to sign a statement of faith, vow not to drink or smoke or have sex outside marriage, or suffer from sinful medical problems. They also save big-time by opting out of some of the expenses mandated by the Godless Affordable Care Act:

Pre-existing medical conditions are often not covered, nor are preventive care, mental health and injuries resulting from behavior the ministry considers immoral or reckless. Members who acquire a sexually transmitted disease from an extramarital affair are out of luck, for instance, as are those injured while driving drunk or during a melee.

[contextly_sidebar id="lw0lFYPVqE4akWqfYO3RID30U4glxWv0"]No melee-associated coverage for you, sinner, and God doesn't cover mental illness, maybe because it's a manifestation of demons. Also, the smart cookies who designed the ACA built in a limit on these things: such "cost sharing" plans have to have been in operation since 1999 to earn an exemption from the ACA. It's almost as if Obamacare's designers saw the possibility for a whole bunch of scammy "alternatives" to spring into existence, imagine that! We are kidding of course -- they simply didn't want anyone to escape Big Government's death panels. As everyone knows, Obamacare is a total failure, with record coverage rates and lower costs nationwide.

The New York Times profiles a nice Texas family, Chris and Sarah Doyle, who opted out of Obamacare after a lot of prayer and also after deciding they'd prefer a low monthly payment of $405, which instead of paying to Samaritan Ministries, they send directly to another family in the plan each month. They're saving about $200 a month compared to the insurance Chris had at work, which had a high deductible but covered unnecessary stuff like preventive care, evil stuff like contraception, and stuff they pray they'll never need, like no per-illness cap on care. If the Doyles ever get cancer or a suffer a traumatic head injury, they're on their own once they hit a limit of $250,000 per illness or injury.

“There’s a little bit of fear going into it,” said Mrs. Doyle, 33, adding that she suspected she had a hernia that would need to be repaired soon. “What if people don’t pay their share and what if the money doesn’t come in? But that’s where the faith-based part comes in -- I’m really going to rely on God.”

That would be the same God who, in His infinite wisdom, sends terminal illnesses to toddlers as part of His grand plan, probably to punish America for allowing abortion (along with droughts, stock market crashes, and horrific murders of pregnant women). So good luck with that!

So far, the largely unregulated sharing ministries have been able to attract enough members to cover expenses, with hardly any fraud, as long as you ignore the occasional hiccup:

In 2001, Ohio’s attorney general sued one ministry -- known then as the Christian Brotherhood Newsletter, and now as Christian Healthcare Ministries -- ultimately forcing its leaders to repay $15 million they had spent on homes, vehicles and excessive salaries out of the fund where members had sent payments.

Despite that big black eye, most plans have worked so flawlessly that they haven't needed regulation, or, in states like Washington, Kentucky, or Oklahoma, God has moved Republicans in state legislatures to pass laws blocking state insurance commissioners from imposing regulations.

Depending on the plan, when members incur medical expenses, they may have to pay part or all of the costs up front and then wait a few months for other members to send them checks, but it's ever so personal and sweet when they finally do get reimbursed. The Times includes a story of a little girl whose parents had to pay $6,500 upfront for surgery on their daughter's ear tubes, but then after 90 days, checks started arriving, often with handwritten notes including prayers. Sure, your Obamacare may have eliminated annual and lifetime benefit limits and capped your individual liability, but does Blue Cross send you a prayer for a speedy recovery, accompanied by a child's drawing of an elephant? It does not. As the mom in Texas explains, it's more than just health insurance (which it isn't at all):

“There’s something different about writing my check to someone who needs it,” Mrs. Doyle said. “I feel like I’m loving on somebody instead of just paying my premiums.”

Even when a family member gets really, expensively sick and you exceed your allowed benefits, you can always ask for additional help through the group's newsletter, and maybe people will donate enough extra to see you through for a while. Consider the nice Jebson family from Virginia: God sent their 8-year-old the gift of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, probably to help build character. Even though their expenses over the first few months of treatment came to several hundred thousand dollars, other Christians came through for them:

“One single fever is a $10,000-a-night hospital cost,” said Mrs. Jebson, adding that her family pays a $500 monthly share toward other members’ medical costs, and $2,500 a year toward their own. But so far, she added, their bills are being covered, with the exception of a few thousand dollars.

There's nothing at all ominous about that "so far," is there? Besides, isn't that what America is about, letting other people who share your faith decide whether you're worth helping? In socialist Europe, taxpayers have to pay for sick children of atheists, for people in drug rehab, and probably even Muslims and lesbians and all sorts of undesirables Jesus would not approve of.

Besides, if expenses ever get too high for your Christian healthcare club, you can always sign up for Godless secular Obamacare if your sick kid lives until the next open enrollment period.

[NYT]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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