Last week tonight, John Oliver dove deep into U.S. Medicare – specifically, health care sharing departments, organizations in which members share health care costs that are often wrongly billed. like medicare, centered on a common religious faith and ready to be misused.
“The most important thing to know about shared health care ministries is not just that they can be cheaper than health insurance, which they can,” Oliver explained. “Is that they are also nothealth insurance. Typically, these are non-profit organizations where people with religious beliefs, usually Christianity, agree to help each other cover other people’s medical bills.
Shared health care ministries have been around for decades, typically for island communities such as Mennonites or Amish. But their popularity exploded after 2010, when the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, included ministries as an exemption from the law’s insurance mandate. Some health care sharing ministries, such as Liberty Healthshare, advertise specifically to a conservative, law-hating audience, with ads on right-wing fringe networks and at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
At their best, shared health care ministries can offer heartwarming stories of generosity and community care. “People who genuinely care about each other sound better than our current system, which is to get sick, have insurance decline coverage, then hope Debra Messing retweets your GoFundMe,” Oliver joked. “And it seems more personal to send $ 500 a month to a stranger in need than to a [insurance] company that looks like someone who made up a word after getting a shitty hand at Scrabble, ”like mega-vendors Aetna, Cigna or Humana.
But there are “significant drawbacks” to shared health care ministries, Oliver continued, ranging from “worrying to disqualifying.”