What are Christian Health Share Ministries?
I have reviewed several articles about Christian Health Sharing Ministries with the idea of writing this introduction. I went to “Wikipedia” and found a good, general explanation. I did remove the “footnotes” and some of the information. Please go to Wikipedia if you need additional information. Thank you in advance for understanding.
A health sharing ministry is an organization that facilitates sharing of health care costs among individual members, in the United States, who have common ethical or religious beliefs. A health care sharing ministry does not use actuaries, does not accept risk or make guarantees, and does not purchase reinsurance polices on behalf of its members. Members of health care sharing ministries are exempt from the individual responsibility requirements of Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This means members of health care sharing ministries are not required to have insurance as outlined in the individual mandate.
Health care sharing ministries are founded on the biblical principle of believers sharing each other’s needs. Ministries often cite the mandate of Galatians 6:2 to “Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ” as applicable to medical costs. Some see origins in the Book of Acts 2:44-45, which states that early Christians “were together and had everything in common” and “gave to anyone as he had need”.
Some of the larger health care sharing ministries are: Christian Healthcare Ministries (established around 1981), Medi-Share, a program of Christian Care Ministry (1993), Samaritan Ministries (1994), Liberty HealthShare (1998), MCS Medical Cost Sharing and Altrua HealthShare.
Most ministries are oriented toward practicing Christians, with restrictions like abstaining from extramarital sex, excessive drinking, and use of tobacco or illegal drugs. They usually require members to make a statement of belief as well.
In order for members to be exempt from the tax penalties outlined in the Affordable Care Act, ministries must meet the following qualifications:
- Must be a 501(c)(3)organization
- Members must share common ethical or religious beliefs
- Must not discriminate membership based on state of residence or employment
- Members cannot lose membership due to development of a medical condition
- Must have existed and been in practice continually since December 31, 1999 (a grandfather clause)
- Must be subject to an annual audit by an independent CPA which must be publicly available upon request.
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