For most of my life, I've been either been covered under my employer's health insurance plans or paid my own expenses out of pocket. As a healthy person, the insurance companies made profit from the premiums they collected on me. During times when I paid for my treatments, I was able to do so even on a small income - but that was before the ridiculous inflation of the past 10 to 15 years that has made fees - not costs but charges - skyrocket.
For a couple of years recently, until we could not afford it any longer, we paid for private insurance - a whopping $1200.00 a month for two people in excellent health.
I have not had health insurance for about 3 years now. If I need treatment for something, I will get it, and will find a way to pay for it. I have great genes and expect to continue to have excellent health, so this does not worry me much.
But the provisions of the "Affordable Care Act" aka "Obamacare" do concern me. The law and its implementation are gross violations of religious freedom for millions of Christians. And I cannot acquiesce to such a law.
Plus, in recent years, I've had a growing recognition that "insurance" is unhealthy for our economy and our society in many ways - I've blogged about this before.
I also have increasingly nagging questions about how heavily a Christian should rely on insurance within the framework of our faith. It is wise to invest for the future, to guard against want, but at the same time we must not let Insurance become an idol and a false god (which it seems increasingly to be in America).
So I was interested last night to discover,in an article on the Generation Cedar blog, something I had never heard of before: "Health Care Sharing" - a sort of charitable co-op for medical costs. (Do not confuse this long-existing word "co-op", which is short for cooperative aka cooperation, with the Democrats' co-option of the word to define yet another government-fundwasting program called "Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans" - no wonder we are headed toward Babel, when words are redefined to ridiculous extent. But I digress.)
The Atlantic's "A Christian Alternative to Health Insurance" gives a good overview of how they work. Of course, the article has a negative slant, but for realists who comprehend the nature and principles of cooperative organizations in general, the supposed "negatives" are not only acceptable but desireable. To put it another way: what co-op organic food store would allow members to bring in DDT-laden veggies or demand daily access to Kobe beef and foi gras?
Consumer Reports responded to a question last year about signing up for a "health care sharing ministry" with some informative detail, and links to the three largest such ministries: Samaritan Ministries, Christian Care Ministry’s Medi-Share and Christian Healthcare Ministries.
Here's the exciting part: author Nancy Metcalf says in the article that "Membership in a health-care sharing ministry in operation since 1999 (i.e. any of the big three mentioned above) will exempt individuals from the law’s controversial mandate to purchase health insurance."
Since I haven't had much time to study the pros and cons of medical cost-sharing ministries, I'll just share a few more links. Other articles include:
The Christian Post "Christian Health Care Sharing Requires More Than Religion"
Charisma News "Alternative Christian Health Insurance Skirts Obamacare"
USA Today "Health care sharing ministries offer insurance alternative"
Christian Personal Finance "Medi-Share Review: A Christian Health Insurance Alternative?"
Paul will be eligible for Medicare in April, but I am seriously thinking of looking into this for myself. I'd love to hear comments and testimonies if you have been or are a member of such a ministry!