New State Regs, Lawsuit Increase Heat on Health Care Sharing Ministries

Scrutiny of health care sharing ministries (HCSMs) is growing, with Colorado becoming the second state to require the entities to submit health care financial data to insurance departments amid stepped-up scrutiny from regulators nationwide. Meanwhile, a Florida health system filed a lawsuit challenging the common practice among HCSMs of pushing members to conceal their sharing ministry enrollment when dealing with providers’ billing departments, which Orlando Health contends is an effort to “illegitimately secure the reduced ‘charity rate.’”

HCSM supporters contend that the religious organization-affiliated ministries provide a less expensive alternative to health insurance for members who agree to comply with faith-based lifestyle restrictions and pledge to “share” medical costs among members. But critics say the programs provide no guarantees of coverage and are exempt from much insurance oversight, while still being marketed in many cases by brokers with terminology such as provider networks and benefit design names that mimic traditional insurance.

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Jill Brown Kettler

Jill Brown Kettler Executive Editor

Jill oversees AIS Health’s publications and manages the health editorial staff. She joined AIS Health in 1999, and brings unique skills and energy to the company, along with an intelligent perspective on the forces reshaping the health care industry. She holds a graduate degree in health finance and management from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, and was formerly a consultant with Arthur Andersen, where she worked with managed care plans, hospitals and medical groups on financial issues impacting their operations.

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