Enrollment in Christian alternatives to health insurance tripled under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) enacted by President Barack Obama. The total number of individuals across health care sharing ministries surpassed 625,000 this year.
Christians who swap health insurance premiums to cover each other’s expenses instead usually find themselves with lower payments than they’d have for policies purchased through the ACA exchanges. But as President Donald Trump pledges to dismantle Obamacare—starting with the individual mandate requiring coverage—many health care sharers are committed to staying put.
“With all the talk of health care reform and ‘What do we do? How do we fix this mess?’ the solution will not come from regulations and mandates,” said Anthony Hopp, spokesman for Samaritan Ministries, one of the biggest health care sharing networks. “We’re going to have to think biblically.”
Groups like Samaritan Ministries (whose enrollment jumped from 65,000 to 224,000 individuals over the past five years) and Medi-Share (up from 46,000 to 222,000 during the same period) take their cues from the New Testament call to “bear one another’s burdens.”
“We hear from a lot of church organizations and religious nonprofits,” said Michael Gardner, spokesman for Medi-Share. The booming network, which opened a branch office in Colorado Springs last year, is considering creating group plans that Christian organizations can offer employees. “We want to meet their needs as well.”
These ministries say their principles go back to the early church: selling property and possessions to “[distribute] to anyone who had need” (Acts 4:35). ...1