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Health Care Cost-Sharing Ministries Gaining in Popularity, Study Finds


Phalinn Ooi CC

John Burger - published on 12/13/15

Moral alternatives to traditional insurance are also cheaper, Lozier Institute details

Health care cost-sharing ministries, which have been around for several decades, have surged in popularity since the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, President Obama’s signature health care reform legislation.

That fact is well-documented in a new report on the ministries, published by the Charlotte Lozier Institute.

With the imposition of the “individual mandate” and the near impossibility of finding a health care insurance plan free of morally objectionable elements, the Christian cost-sharing ministries are proving to be a popular alternative for many Americans, according to the study, “Health Care Sharing Ministries: An Uncommon Bond.”

The study looks at three leading health care cost-sharing ministries — Samaritan Ministries International, Christian Care Ministry (Medi-Share) and Christian Health Care Ministries. The three shared a combined $253 million in health care expenses in 2015.

The savings for participants in cost-sharing ministries can range from 45 to 60 percent below the cost of health insurance sold in the individual market, says the study. The average monthly cost to participate in cost-sharing ministries, compared to employer-sponsored health insurance, can be at least 50 percent lower than the premium and cost-sharing of comparable, conventional health insurance.

The study, authored by Scott Daniels, who has served as a senior health official in three federal administrations, was published this week, as many Americans sign up for new health care plans in the “open enrollment” period that runs through January.

The paper took note of a relatively new plan, CURO, which is a Catholic adaptation of Samaritan Ministries International. It is the only Catholic health care cost-sharing ministry in existence.

“CURO builds on top of SMI offering a sharing ministry that is distinctive to the Catholic spiritual experience and belief system,” the report explains.

The ministries have proven able to handle very large medical expenses, and complaints filed by members have been very few and far between, the study found.

But they do not generally cover preexisting conditions, although most have developed procedures to handle exceptions through voluntary contributions over and above the usual sharing amounts established by the ministry.

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