How Some Catholics are Dodging the Obamacare Abortion Bullet
In 2012, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) implemented a now infamous mandate. It compelled private religious groups to provide contraceptive and abortifacient drugs in their insurance plans. The mandate led to dozens of lawsuits. Some of these lawsuits succeeded, and made their way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
While these lawsuits took the mandate head on, other Christians worked around it through health sharing ministries. This part of the health care market is exempted from the mandate.
The Stream interviewed CMF CURO director Louis Brown shortly after the 2017 National Catholic Prayer Breakfast. The “incredible” meeting, he said, showed “that the Catholic faith is providing the foundation of our country’s conscience on issues of justice, mercy, and human dignity.”
How Health Sharing Works
Health sharing is similar to catastrophic insurance. It’s often far cheaper than traditional insurance, but it may not cover as many services. That hasn’t stopped the health sharing industry from growing rapidly since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became federal law over seven years ago.
In health sharing, members send their monthly payment to a family who need it. “This creates a community based around fellowship and prayer,” Brown said. Members include a note with their check. One payment each year goes to cover administrative costs.
CMF CURO “seeks to care for not only for bodily health, but also that of the mind and spirit, the whole person,” Brown told The Stream. “To advance the spiritual health as well, we offer podcasts, retreats … personalized service, prayer and guidance (about the sharing process) during medical needs.” It has two “episcopal advisors,” Cardinal Raymond Burke and Bishop Earl Boyea of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan.
Health sharing “is generally more cost effective” than insurance, Brown said. “Our ministry works especially well for families,” who pay the same rate no matter how many children they have.
CMF CURO’s members are also members of Samaritan Ministries International, an umbrella group that administers the health sharing process. “CMF CURO fully retains an authentic and rich Catholic identity.” It accepts all Christians, but offers “specifically Catholic forms of prayer and ministry … to bring our Catholic faith into our health care.”
“We believe health care sharing ministries witness to the truth that God is our provider, and we are all bound together in the Body of Christ,” said Brown.
He called CMF CURO’s work “authentic health caring” in another interview. Members “become better stewards of their health because they are more directly engaged in their own health care.” They “act in active charity and active solidarity with each other by sharing medical costs and praying for each other’s needs. … We believe health care sharing ministries witness to the truth that God is our provider, and we are all bound together in the Body of Christ.”
Solidarity CEO Brad Hahn told Health Care News that his group is affiliated with a Mennonite organization. Mennonites and Catholics “may differ in doctrinal issues, but not on the essential life issues of contraception, sterilization, abortion and euthanasia, the key moral issues, and religious liberty.” Hahn described “health care sharing” as “a great example of the Catholic social teaching[s of] solidarity and subsidiarity.”
A Future Without the ACA
While both Solidarity and CMF CURO were founded in opposition to the ACA, Brown said he believes “CMF CURO will only continue growing as the need increases for a Catholic and affordable health care option.”
“Many Catholics thought they could go along with the existing health care system until the ACA wake-up call. They have re-evaluated their health care options because of the numerous pro-abortion and anti-religious freedom actions that the law empowered. It has shown the faith community that we have to chart a new course in health care.”
Hahn said, “Even if the Employer and Individual Mandates of the Affordable Care Act are repealed, the battle will be mandates at the state level. For example, in California, all health insurance plans must cover abortions with no religious exemption.”
Disclosures: This reporter is a member of a competing health sharing ministry called Christian Healthcare Ministries. CMF CURO was also briefly a client of this reporter in mid-2015.