Health-care ministries that offer coverage outside the insurance system have grown rapidly in recent years as consumers take advantage of an exception for such nonprofit providers in the Affordable Care Act, writes The Wall Street Journal. Officials with the faith-based groups estimate that they cover some 500,000 people nationwide, up from about 200,000 when the law was enacted in 2010.
The ministries operate on a cost-sharing basis, pooling fees from members who share religious beliefs to cover their medical expenses. Members are not subject to the Obamacare mandate that people without health insurance pay annual fines. Health ministries sought the exemption during the debate over the law, terming it a matter of religious freedom. The groups' expansion has raised concerns among state insurance commissioners, who do not have regulatory authority over the faith-based plans.