Arlington Texas uses Christian Organization to Provide Health Insurance as an ACA Alternative

Many Christians have found an alternative to federally mandated insurance, but it required a leap of faith.

This group of Christians is part of a small but fast-growing number of people who have joined healthcare sharing religious alternatives to replace federally mandated insurance in which members pool monthly payments to help cover one another’s medical expenses. So, unlike most uninsured Americans, the Believers did not have to buy health insurance in Arlington TX or risk a fine under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

The cost to give birth in a hospital is roughly $10,000, with costs all taken care of. These healthcare networks, which have been around for more than two decades, are seeing a jump in membership, particularly among believers who object to some of the requirements of the healthcare law.

The purpose of the organization is for Christians to come together and support each other when needed most, says one of the director’s of membership development for Samaritan Ministries, a network that includes members in Arlington, Texas.

To join, members promise to abide by a lifestyle that includes frequent church attendance, little drug or alcohol use, and absolutely no premarital or gay sex. Monthly fees at Samaritan range from under $200 for an individual to around $400 for a family, with members paying $300 of their first dollar amount covering their out of pocket expenses for medical bills.

Samaritan members send medical bills to the ministry, which in turn directs other members to mail their monthly payments to the person in need. If there is not enough money available in a given month, members receives a percentage of their request and hope to be reimbursed later when there is more money to go around.

There are disadvantages. The organizations are largely unregulated because they are not considered insurance groups, though federal officials often refer to them as “optional health insurance organizations.” In addition, members are essentially putting their conviction, and medical bills, in the hands of the network without assurances that they will be paid. Most members also face a lifetime cap of $250,000 per medical condition — an amount that can be easily spent if a person is seriously injured or faces a long-term illness.

Four of the largest Christian Healthcare Organizations in operation since 1999, including Samaritan, qualify as alternatives to insurance under the federal health law, according to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

As of April of 2015, over 18,200 Texans are members said Glenn Hegar, the Texas comptroller and a Republican state senator who has tracked the Christian healthcare organization. Samaritan’s membership alone has grown more than 30 percent since 2013. Those figures pale in comparison to the more than 700,000 Texans who signed up for private insurance on the federal exchange, and the roughly 1 million uninsured Texans whose incomes are too low to receive subsidies on the exchange because the state declined to participate in an expansion of Medicaid.

Many Christians join Samaritan from recommendations from different faith based Christian churches’, with most being in good health. They may get additional vision and dental insurance from a jobs group health insurance plan.

Members know they are expected to pay for services like yearly checkups.“You’re dealing with like-minded people who are committed to this concept of helping each other out,” say a Senior Samaritan official. “They don’t have to be supporting something that is in conflict with their values. That’s big.”

Many Samaritan members do not care for the Affordable Care Act because they are uncomfortable paying into an insurance plan that covered services, like some forms of contraception, that objects to their religious beliefs. The ACA insurance mandate opened their eyes to a Christian alternative. Samaritan member concerns echo a national discussion about the government’s role in regulating health coverage for people with diverse religious beliefs. Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the federal health law could not force family-owned corporations with religious objections to pay for insurance coverage of contraception.

In June of 2015, the Supreme Court will rule on legality of government subsidies to states that do not have State run exchanges.  If the court rules against the government run exchanges, this in itself could make the Samaritan plan that more mainstream.

Insurance4Dallas, (I4D) helps insure all of Texas and provides consumers with detailed information and the ability to apply for insurance online.  I4D provides a full spectrum of health, dental, vision, life and other ancillary insurance products providing a diverse selection of price and benefit options complemented by personable customer service.  Available via phone, email or fax, Insurance4Dallas answers consumer questions throughout the purchasing process and utilization of the health insurance policy.

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