Following evangelicals, traditional Catholics create a health insurance alternative

WASHINGTON (RNS) If you are a Christian who doesn’t smoke, abstains from sex outside your heterosexual marriage and can get your priest to vouch that you go to church at least three times a month, you may qualify for a new Catholic alternative to health insurance.

Taking a cue from evangelicals, a group of traditionalist Catholics on Thursday (Oct. 2) unveiled a cost-sharing network that they say honors their values and ensures that they are not even indirectly supporting health care services such as abortion that contradict their beliefs.

Critics point out that health care sharing programs are unregulated and that there is no guarantee that any particular medical need will be covered. As Jonathan Gruber, a health care economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told CNBC: “The whole goal of health care reform is to ensure that people are protected against risk and illness, and this violates that fundamental goal.”

FYI, Jonathan Gruber is the person Mitt Romney had create the Massachusetts Health Care program known as Romeny Care. He then joined the Obama Administration in helping to create the ACA, aka Obama Care.

People need to know that if this program isn’t licensed, it will not be a valid choice and as the article points out, it may not pay for health care needs you or a family member may come up with.

It would be great to see a Catholic Health Insurance business come on line which is licensed, but that’s unlikely considering the costs for starting such a business and also the regulations from HHS.


Health care sharing programs do qualify under the ACA as “insurance” as long as they meet several criteria:

HEALTH CARE SHARING MINISTRY.—The term ‘health care sharing ministry’ means an organization— ‘‘(I) which is described in section 501©(3) and is exempt from taxation under section 501(a), ‘‘(II) members of which share a common set of ethical or religious beliefs and share medical expenses among members in accordance with those beliefs and without regard to the State in which a member resides or is employed, ‘‘(III) members of which retain membership even after they develop a medical condition, ‘‘(IV) which (or a predecessor of which) has been in existence at all times since December 31, 1999, and medical expenses of its members have been shared continuously and without interruption since at least December 31, 1999, and ‘‘(V) which conducts an annual audit which is performed by an independent certified public ac- counting firm in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and which is made avail- able to the public upon request. (from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, section 1501 page 148).

Now, I don’t know if the Catholic program will qualify because it didn’t exist before Dec 31, 1999 but it is joining a program that did.

Unless a Catholic health insurance business would be classified as a ‘religious organisation’ wouldn’t they have to abide by the Affordable Care Act regulations like other insurance companies?

If they do, then there may be problems with having to provide abortion and/or contraception coverage.

This is my opinion, but I assume Jonathan Gruber may have another concern with health sharing programs, and that may be that they are taking maybe hundreds of thousands of people out of the private insurance marketplace, and it would probably be more beneficial for the Affordable Care Act if those people had private insurance, and they were paying into the system. Even if they chose not to get private insurance, they would have to pay a tax, and are those in health sharing ministries not paying the tax for not having insurance?

Insurance is complex, but my understanding is that the insurance companies make huge profits off of tax free investments, not off premiums.

The more people they have as clients, the more they can invest dollars and receive tax free returns.

The premiums we pay for the most part only cover the administration costs and a small part of their liability. But the main part of their liability is put into investment portfolios which earn tax free profits which exceeds the total coverage they have to pay out…

So, being such, the cost of getting into this game, along with the current regulations in the ACA, which by the way was pretty much written by the insurance lobby itself, would make a start-up Catholic Insurance company unlikely, plus they would be forced to cover contraception and such.

I just don’t see it happening.


If the health sharing ministry qualifies (and I posted the qualifications in my last post) the people that participate can be exempt from the tax penalty for not having insurance.

Interview with ‘the co-founders of CMF CURO, David Wilson and Mike O’Dea (who is also executive director of the Christus Medicus Foundation), and director Louis Brown’

Wouldn’t a qualifying plan need to cover preventative care? Personally that alone would keep me from joining such a program. Most of my medical costs are preventative (yearly physical) and pre-existing (I take perscription prilosec).

That said I do like the idea of it. Hopefully this type of thing can get more robust in it’s coverage.

Samaritan International which is becoming joined to Christ Medicus says:

Samaritan Ministries doesn’t deny membership to anyone for health reasons.

Needs from pre-existing conditions aren’t eligible for sharing as regular needs. However, needs related to conditions that existed before a person joined may eventually be able to be shared under certain conditions, such as an absence of symptoms for a certain number of years depending on the condition. In addition, needs related to pre-existing conditions may also be submitted as a “special prayer need.” SPNs are needs that fall outside the Guidelines (expenses related to pre-existing conditions, extensive dental work, orthodontics, etc.) but that are causing a financial burden. If approved, they are included on a month’s share slips for voluntary giving above and beyond one’s monthly share. In some cases, Samaritan even shares as SPNs needs related to expenses incurred before the person’s membership started.

No, they don’t do preventive care, atleast I think they don’t; whether it does or doesn’t, it should get you from paying the PPACA penalty.

Do traditional Catholics believe when Jesus said to care for the sick, he meant only if they attend Mass 3 times a month?

Sure it may keep you from a fine but how do you cover the health care costs that these things don’t cover? The medication for many diseases run in the 10’s of thousands (some of these will be for life). Since those will more than likely be pre-existing they won’t be covered.

This is fine to make some sort of a statment I guess but unless you are wealthy or don’t have a family to care for it sounds useless. Am I missing someting? I do like the idea of this but it doesn’t seem to meet the medical needs of many people.

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