Protecting healthcare sharing ministries


COLUMBUS — State Representative Angie King (R-Celina) has introduced legislation protecting health care sharing ministries within Ohio borders. While traditional health insurance is most common and meets the needs of many, it is not the only way to pay for health care. Health care sharing is one of those options. Health Care Sharing Ministries (HCSM) are faith-based, non-profit membership organizations that facilitate the sharing of medical expenses among their members.

King’s legislation, known as the Health Care Sharing Ministries Freedom to Share Act, will ensure that HCSMs are recognized as religious charities rather than insurance companies. The bill, which has been adopted by 33 other states, ensures HCSMs are rightfully regulated as charities under the authority of the Attorney General rather than the Department of Insurance.

“In the United States 1.7 million people rely on sharing plans, more than 25,000 in Ohio,” said King. “These organizations provide an essential service, helping to cover major medical expenses, while allowing members to hold on to and support their religious and ethical beliefs.”

HCSMs are also recognized under the Affordable Care Act and members have been granted an exemption from the requirement to maintain minimum essential medical coverage.

In Ohio, for an organization to identify as an HSCM they must meet the following requirements:

Are organized around and whose members share a common set of ethical or religious beliefs;

Provide the public an annual audit by an independent certified public accounting firm;

Include a written disclaimer on materials that the organization is not an insurance company;

Allows an income tax deduction for contributions made to an HCSM or to other members through an HCSM;

Specifies that HCSM members who are students at a state institution of higher education are exempt from such institution’s health insurance requirement.

The legislation has not yet been assigned to a House committee.

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