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. They don’t all work the same way, but that’s the gist. There have been multiple articles written about customers who were denied help precisely when they expected to receive it.
The latest comes from the New York Times‘ Reed Abelson, who looks at how some of these Christian groups are so awful that some states are taking legal action to prevent them from offering garbage plans to residents.
… state regulators in New Hampshire, Colorado and Texas are beginning to question some of the ministries’ aggressive marketing tactics, often using call centers, and said in some cases people who joined them were misled or did not understand how little coverage they would receive if they or a family member had a catastrophic illness.
The article notes that Washington has fined Trinity Healthshare and banned it in the state. Even Texas has sued Aliera Healthcare, which promoted Trinity’s products.
Families who have joined the groups recount winding up with medical bills not covered by the ministries, with no legal way to appeal decisions to reject coverage for care. Some groups ask their members to push hospitals and doctors to write off their bills rather than use members’ money to pay their expenses.
“These plans offer a false sense of security,” said Jenny Chumbley Hogue, who runs an insurance agency in the north Dallas area of Texas. She refuses to offer them to her clients.
There’s no better description of religion than a worthless plan offering a “false sense of security.”
As I’ve said before, there are plenty of problems with the insurance industry, in large part due to sabotage by Republicans who have undermined the protections that were written into the Affordable Care Act. But Christian insurance companies manage to magnify those problems with a religious twist. You’re a fool if you trust them. It’s just too bad the members are the ones who get screwed over. Those are the same members, I would gather, who were duped into believing the ACA (as intended) was bad for them and who continue to push back against the idea of single-payer systems.
(Image via Shutterstock. Portions of this article were published earlier)