Thursday, August 26, 2010

Health Plan for Christians is Insurance

In spite of protestations that Medi-Share is not insurance, the Kentucky Supreme Court has ruled otherwise.

A Christians-only health care plan provides a "contract for insurance" and doesn't qualify for exemption from state regulations as a religious publication, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a decision that potentially opens the plan to stricter regulations by the state.

A split high court found that that the Medi-Share program "fits comfortably within the statutory definition of an insurance contract" because it shifts the risk of payments for medical expenses from the individual to a pool of people paying into the program.

Apparently this ruling applies only to the 300 or so members who reside in the state of Kentucky, but that does not bode well for members in other states.

At issue is how tightly the state can regulate a program that serves nearly 40,000 churchgoers in 49 states by accepting contributions from participants. The program, which generates about $42 million a year, excludes non-Christians because, organizers say, their lifestyles can result in unnecessary medical care.

Participants can't smoke, use illegal drugs or abuse alcohol. They're also not allowed to enroll if they have pre-existing conditions like heart disease, diabetes or cancer.

I have worked with a "competitor" to Medi-Share several years ago in a consulting capacity and can back up their assertion that claims for this type of group are generally lower than for the general population. The same argument can be made for those who are practicing members of the Mormon faith.

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