Healthcare sharing “ministries,” or “organizations” came into public awareness after Congress passed the Affordable Care Act. Healthcare sharing ministries were carved out as an exception to the ACA individual mandate. The federal ACA individual mandate is no longer enforced by IRS following the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 that eliminated the tax penalty for noncompliance. However, several states have their own individual mandate–base exactly on the federal definition. These include the states of New Jersey, California, Washington.
But there is a problem with the federal ACA definition for a healthcare sharing ministry–the only HCSMs recognized under the federal exemption are ministries “which (or a predecessor of which) has been in continuous operation since December 31, 1999.” The problem with this definition is that only three national healthcare sharing ministries were in existence at that time–along with about 100 small Mennonite ministries that served only their own small Mennonite community.
But after the ACA was passed, several start-up ministries suddenly “merged” with a tiny Mennonite community to claim “successor” status since 1999, for purpose of the ACA. This is now a major focus of lobbying and litigation efforts.
Those considering joining a healthcare sharing organization need to take an extra look at the organization and its leadership. Healthcare sharing is a great alternative to health insurance–as long as the company is soundly manged by people with a clear ethical compass. One such company that operates under sound, ethical principles is our client, Impact Health Sharing.
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