Pharyngula

This country recently managed to pass a rather lame compromise on health care: there is now a mandate that requires everyone to have health insurance, even if it is from a hodge-podge of insurance companies, with the intent of fairly distributing the expense. Unfortunately, one group got singled out with an exception from this requirement. Can you guess who?

Yep, Christians.

Did you know that if you are a Christian you are exempt from the taxes, penalties and regulations imposed by the recently enacted health insurance law?

All you have to do is to affirm a statement of Christian beliefs and pledge to follow a code that includes no tobacco or illegal drugs, no sex outside of marriage, and no abuse of alcohol or legal medications and pay a monthly fee to join a religious health care sharing ministry plan, a plan that specifically does not guarantee the payment of your medical bills in any fashion and holds members solely responsible for payment of said bills.

And the reason for this exemption? According to the spokeswoman for the Senate committee responsible for writing much of the legislation, lawmakers granted the exemption out of respect for religious freedom.

That’s a rather large loophole, and it’s also preferentially sectarian. It’s also non-surprising. What it means is that a few Christian scam-artists get to get richer, while lots of gullible Christians get screwed. The con is to set up a Christian “bill-sharing” cooperative in place of a real insurance plan; members send in monthly premiums, which can be quite substantial, but do not have to buy in to any other insurance plan, and then the bill-sharing program offers to help cover medical expenses, but “The payment of your medical bills…is not guaranteed in any fashion.” It’s a great deal for the Christian bill-sharing plan; if your medical expenses get so high that they cut into their profits, they can just elect not to pay, and then you have to go begging to join some other insurance pool.

Absolutely brilliant. Send me money now, and maybe, if I feel like it, I’ll help you out with some bills later. But I am not obligated.

And this is such a profitable plan that they managed to lobby congress to support it, all under the cloak of Christianity.