In March of 2010, President Barak Obama signed into law the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, officially known as H.R. 3590, or Healthcare Reform. Part of this law will require that by 2014, most Americans must purchase government regulated health insurance. In fact, Section 1501 of the act adds a new chapter to the IRS code that mandates all “applicable” individuals to either obtain health insurance that meets the bill’s “minimum essential coverage” standards. If they do not, they will be required to pay a penalty.
Religious Conscious Exemptions
There are, however, some Obama health care bill exemptions. First, the new law creates a religious conscience exemption for those who are members and faithful adherents of a recognized religious sect or division. The provision may exempt those individuals from the mandatory health insurance purchase requirement if they are members of religions that have established tenets or teachings that bar the “acceptance of the benefits of any private or public insurance.”
The Obama healthcare bill religious conscience exemption is defined as:
RELIGIOUS CONSCIENCE EXEMPTION. – Such term shall not include any individual for any month if such individual has in effect an exemption under section 1311(d)(4)(H) of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act which certifies that such individual is a member of a recognized religious sect of division thereof described in section 1402(g)(l) and an adherent of established tenets or teachings of such sect or division as described in such section.
It must be made clear that personal religious objections do not exempt an individual from the mandate. Therefore, those who do not belong to a denomination with specific bans on insurance, for example, will not be considered exempt from the law.
In addition, the religious conscience health care bill exemption does not specifically exempt the members of any one particular religion from the health insurance mandatory purchase requirements.
Health Care Sharing Ministries
The new legislation also provides another type of Obama healthcare bill exemption for those individuals who are members of a Health Care Sharing Ministry. These organizations are in fact the only “organized healthcare concept” that has obtained an exemption from the requirement to purchase health insurance or face a fine.
Health Care Sharing Ministries are defined by the law as an organization that:
- Is described in Section 501(c)(3) and is exempt from taxation under Section 501(a);
- Has 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;
- Has members of which retain membership even after they develop a medical condition;
- Has (or has a predecessor of which) has been in existence at all times since December 31, 1999, and the medical expenses of its members have been shared continuously and without interruption since at least December 31, 1999; and
- Which conducts an annual audit which is performed by an independent certified accounting firm in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles and which is made available to the public upon request.
In essence, Health Care Sharing Ministries provide a cost sharing arrangement for health care among people of similarly held beliefs. They are not-for-profit religious organizations, and they typically do not receive any type of funding from the government.
Health Care Sharing Ministries focus on developing a Christian worldview, and work under the premise that is essentially the opposite of the entitlement mindset that is so endemic in our culture today.
So if you’re afraid you will be forced to purchase a mandatory health insurance plan that you either cannot afford or do not want or need, Health Care Sharing Ministries may provide an alternative for you. As a part of these organizations that have a healthcare bill exemption, you too would be considered exempt from the mandatory requirement to purchase health insurance and therefore, the taxes, penalties, and high costs would not pertain to you.
How Health Care Sharing Ministries Work and Why They Qualify for the Obama Healthcare Bill Exemption
Health Care Sharing Ministries can be a great solution for those seeking an alternate way to combat the issue of rising health care costs. They encompass thousands of Christians that are united in helping to share each other’s medical expenses.
These Health Care Sharing Ministries organizations are not considered insurance companies and in fact, they do not assume any type of risk. Nor do they guarantee the payment of any health care related bills. Several states have even recognized Health Care Sharing Ministries and have exempted them from their own state insurance codes.
Because of this, members are afforded several advantages of joining, often including no pre-existing condition requirements, no waiting periods for accidental injuries, and no healthcare provider network requirements.
However, althoughHealth Care Sharing Ministries are not considered insurance companies, they still qualify for the healthcare bill exemption based in part on their 501 (c)(3) status and their exemption from taxation under Section 501(a).
Members of Health Care Sharing Ministries from a wide spectrum of Christian entities banded together in order to support each other’s health care needs. Each month a publication is distributed to a group of Christian members who have offered to provide a specific amount of money. These funds are shared by the members of Health Care Sharing Ministries in order to assist those in need with medical expenses.
Some examples of Health Care Sharing Ministries that will qualify for the Obama healthcare bill exemption include Samaritan Ministries International, Christian Healthcare Ministries, and Medi-Share Christian Care Medical Sharing.
Article Sources: H.R. 3590 – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act