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A Look at the ‘Religious Alternative’ to Obamacare

As lawmakers in Washington debate delaying the start of Obamacare, NPR has posted this story that looks at the legal, “religious alternative” that would allow people to opt out of the legislation’s individual mandate. According to the law, members of “health care sharing ministries,” whose members share medical bills and a “common set of ethical or religious beliefs,” are exempt from being a part of Obamacare’s requirement that insurance be purchased by consumers. The story looks at groups like Medi-Share, “a group of people, in this case Christians, who band together and agree that they want to share one another’s burdens” (as described by the organization’s medical director).

Essentially, members of the group all pay a monthly fee, and when health care needs arise among members, the group decides which costs will be covered. According to the story, tens of thousands of Christians across the country participate in health sharing ministries—many for ethical reasons. The ministries do not cover procedures that they deem immoral (like abortion), and do not accept members who abuse drugs and alcohol. Now, some states are suing to have the ministries not included among the individual mandate exempted groups because they do not guarantee coverage for members …

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