Monday, January 04, 2016

Religious Health Care Ministries Show Growth

The Wall Street Journal this morning reports that a growing number of people have been moving to "health care ministries" since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act.  The number of participants in these religious health-sharing arrangements has grown from 200,000 to 500,000 since 2010.  According to the report:
The ministries, which operate outside the insurance system and aren’t regulated by states, provide a health-care cost-sharing arrangement among people with similarly held beliefs. Their membership growth has been spurred by an Affordable Care Act provision allowing participants in eligible ministries to avoid fines for not buying insurance....
The membership growth was largely unanticipated by ministry officials when the groups obtained an exception to the law. Only ministries in continuous operation since at least Dec. 31, 1999 are exempt from the ACA. The carve-out was intended to satisfy what at the time were relatively small religious groups that argued that their nonparticipation was a matter of religious freedom.
Officials are concerned both about the risk to participants from the unregulated operation of the arrangements, and about their impact on the Affordable Care Act insurance pool. (See prior related posting.)