The Affordable Care Act runs more than 2,600 pages and now hundreds of thousands of regulations. No one knows every single provision that is in the law, which Congress did not even bother to read before passing it. Among its most controversial provisions is the mandate forcing Americans to purchase health insurance or face fines from the IRS. Those fines can even take the form of wage garnishment. Americans who fail to comply and pay the fine can end up in jail.
There is, though, a provision buried in Obamacare that provides a way out of having to comply with the individual mandate. Pages 107 and 128 of Obamacare stipulate that members of “healthcare sharing ministries” are exempt from the individual mandate.
Healthcare sharing ministries are non-profit entities created to allow Christians to pay into a fund and then tap that fund when they need to pay medical expenses. So there’s one catch — you have to be meet the healthcare sharing group’s membership requirements to join, and as ministries they maintain that you must be a Christian regularly attending church before you can become a member.
Healthcare sharing ministries can approve and decline claims, and rates can increase or decrease over the life of a policy. Some do not require physical exams before joining and do not turn down people with pre-existing conditions.
There’s a second catch. Obamacare stipulates that the healthcare sharing ministry must have been in continuous operation since December 31, 1999. Enterprising ministries can’t just go out and build a new healthcare ministry and advertise it as an ark to escape Obamacare’s flood of regulations and higher premiums. Atheists cannot go out and build a non-religious alternative, either. Perhaps the president’s non-believing supporters should take this up with him. Maybe he’ll grant them a waiver, as he has already granted to unions and corporations. The arbitrary December 31, 1999 start date seems unfair, but so is much of Obamacare.
Because they are Christian ministries, healthcare sharing ministries also provide a means to escape another controversial Obamacare mandate, which forces Americans who object to contraception and abortion to pay for those services through their healthcare. But Christian-owned businesses, such as Hobby Lobby and Chick-Fil-A, cannot become corporate members of healthcare sharing ministries.
At the present time, only three healthcare sharing ministries make the cut and provide an exemption to Obamacare: Samaritan Ministries, Christian Healthcare Ministries and Medi-Share. Having looked over the websites of all three, one thing is immediately clear: Unlike Healthcare.gov, their websites actually work.