Sunday, August 29, 2010

Kentucky High Court Says Christian Medi-Share Program Is Insurance Contract Subject To State Regulation

In Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Reinhold, (KY Sup. Ct., Aug. 26, 2010), the Kentucky Supreme Court held that the Medi-Share Program operated by the American Evangelistic Association and the Christian Share Ministry is subject to regulation by the Kentucky Department of Insurance.  Medi-Share bills itself as a "sharing ministry" which people voluntarily join to help pay medical bills of other members. In return, members are eligible to receive donations to cover their own medical expenses. Members make commitments to live by Biblical standards, and also agree to make a monthly "share" payment directly to Medi-Share in an amount based on actuarial standards. The member is assessed an "extra blessing gifts" penalty if the monthly payment is late. Members are removed if they do not make their payments within a specified time. The court concluded that this is a contract of insurance under Kentucky law and is not entitled to the "religious publication" exemption under Kentucky's insurance law. That exemption is available only to religious arrangements in which medical expenses payments are made directly from one member to another. AP reports on the decision. (See prior related posting.)