Just as there’s a Christian substitute for just about everything in the secular world, there’s Christian health insurance that only the most devout believers can buy into. And just like those other Christian alternatives, it’s much worse than the original.
The way groups like Samaritan Ministries and Liberty HealthShare work is that everyone in the system pays a specific amount into the insurance pool every month… but they don’t send it to the providers. The company tells them where to send their money (e.g. Bob from Nebraska) and how much to send. If you need something covered yourself, you ask the provider to send your name to others in the pool.
That’s not really different from regular insurance. Except it’s not regulated. And the providers can cut you off at anytime if you’re too expensive to cover. And if you did something they deem “immoral,” you won’t get any money at all. (Good luck getting that contraception. And you sure as hell can’t cover your same-sex partner.)
So everything is great… until the moment you need them the most.
Last year, BuzzFeed published a piece about how a Christian couple belonging to Samaritan Ministries sought medical help for their two adopted children from Africa. They were denied the help, however, because the providers said the kids’ conditions were “pre-existing.” The couple eventually cut their medical costs in half only after applying for Medicaid. (Thanks, socialized medicine!)Now, Bloomberg has published a report about a couple that belongs to Liberty HealthShare. Lindsie and Chris Bergevin joined the Christian provider in April, and they also visit a local doctor who covers basic needs for a set $150 a month. But if something truly awful and expensive should happen, they’re screwed. The biggest irony in all this is that they’re not even saving any money.
… between Liberty and SparkMD, the Bergevins pay more than they did for health coverage through Lindsie’s old job, and, she estimates, about as much as Obamacare insurance would cost. The family is still exposed to considerable risk. Liberty caps reimbursements at $1 million — a limit that insurance companies can’t impose. They have two friends who have had cancer, and, Chris says, “a million’s definitely not enough.”
So they get the benefit of saying they belong to a Christian insurance provider with none of the protections Obamacare was intended to provide. (This will undoubtedly make for a depressing follow up story in a few years.)
The scary thing is that these half-assed providers are on the rise. Bloomberg notes that membership in these Christian insurance companies “rose 74 percent from 2014 to 2016, according to the latest Internal Revenue Service data.” We’re talking more than a million people who prefer crappy coverage over anything the government might provide.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Liz for the link)