Monday, February 24, 2014

Health Care Sharing Ministries: Scam or Solution

Benjamin Boyd, Health Care Sharing Ministries: Scam or Solution?, 26 J.L. & Health 219 (2013) available at

In conclusion, Health Care Sharing Ministries are not some kind of scam or “part 
of the problem[s]” with America’s health care system. HCSMs are “part of the 
solution” for America’s health care needs and this for several reasons. First, 
HCSM membership exempts members from the individual mandate in the PPACA; 
second, HCSMs are affordable for most qualifying individuals and families; and 
lastly, HCSMs demonstrate the faith, values, caring, and ideals “all too often lacking 
in many health insurance options available today.”
In conclusion, state legislatures should enact “safe harbor” provisions for 
HCSMs – and defer to federal regulation of HCSMs under PPACA, because some 
state insurance departments likely will continue to challenge HCSMs. Yet, why do 
state insurance departments seek to conform HCSMs to the image of insurance? 
Why, as one judge noted with a touch of irony, do “the consumers apparently 
needing the Department’s protection seek an exemption from those regulations”?
Perhaps one reason some state insurance officials view HCSMs with suspicion lies 
with the fact “our mentality has moved far from that of our ancestors.” Indeed,
the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries notes, “we hardly know what . . . the 
mandate to bear one another’s burdens . . . . means anymore.” Thus, for many of 
us, “[i]f an emergency medical problem arises, the government or the insurance 
company takes care of it, and our friends, relatives and neighbors have little 
participation in restoring us to our former state.” In the words of Indiana Insurance 
Commissioner James Atterholt, “all regulators [should] respect citizens’ rights to 
freely pursue their own solutions for their medical expenses, and recognize HCSMs 
for what they are: charitable organizations serving individuals who voluntarily 
support one another in their time of need.” In sum, HCSMs should be protected 
and not put off as insurance scams. HCSMs should be helped, not hindered, as the 
many thousands of HCSM members seek to “[b]ear one another’s burdens, and thus 
fulfill the law of Christ.”

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