WASHINGTON, D.C., February 20, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law nearly five years ago, Catholic leaders and laypeople have expressed grave concerns over the health care law's abortion funding and forced abortion and contraception coverage, as well as a lack of transparency in the law.
Now, Catholics can avoid those concerns about risking their access to health care, thanks to a new Catholic health care ministry launched late last year.
According to director Louis Brown, Christ Medicus Foundation's CURO (CMF CURO) ministry “is faithful to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church” that “is open to all practicing Christians.” Just four months after coming into existence, and not quite two months into covering members' medical expenses, “we have Catholics who have joined CMF CURO from over 30 different states across the country.”
Brown says that faithfulness to the Church “is important for our own integrity and also for the protection of our members who depend upon our fidelity to the Church.” Because of the ACA's rules and regulations, however, it was forced to open as a member-representative of Samaritan Ministries International, which is a non-Catholic ministry. Under Samaritan's member requirements, “CMF CURO members must attend Mass or church services at least three times per month and refrain from smoking. Members may enjoy alcoholic beverages, but must not drink to the point of drunkenness,” Brown told LifeSiteNews.
How does health-sharing differ from traditional health insurance? Brown said that it relies more on God, and less on insurance companies.
“With health sharing, there is no legal transfer of risk, no premium, no deductible, and no coverage. Instead, members of health care sharing ministries place their trust in God and choose to engage in active Christian charity and Christian community by bearing the health care and financial burdens of their brothers and sisters in Christ,” he said.
“We believe this is authentic health caring: individuals and families who become better stewards of their health because they are more directly engaged in their own health care and who act in active charity and active solidarity with each other by sharing medical costs and praying for each other’s needs,” explained Brown. “Each month, members of CMF CURO will send a 'share payment' to another member of the ministry who has a health care need as opposed to sending a premium payment to an insurance company.”
“In the aggregate, a family or individual in the ministry with a health care need will receive checks from dozens or hundreds of families that pays for their health care costs for any one need consistent with the sharing guidelines of Samaritan Ministries International,” he explained.
Share payments are placed on the CMF CURO member's ministry debit card, which they can use to pay their expenses.
“We believe health care sharing ministries witness to the truth that God is our provider, and we are all bound together in the Body of Christ,” said Brown.
However, health-sharing does have its limits. Financially, the benefits are that “medical expenses are generally shareable above $300 up until $250,000 per medical need. There is no yearly or lifetime limit on the amount a member can receive.”
However, “medical expenses that result from pre-existing conditions and preventive care are generally not, however, shareable. Furthermore, maintenance prescription drugs are generally not shareable.”
Brown said there are “additional layers of protection available for members of the ministry if they have shareable medical needs in excess of $250,000.”
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Because of its relationship with Samaritan, CMF CURO is able to get around the regulations and moral problems of the ACA because of the law itself. Like Samaritan and many of its competitors — including Christian Healthcare Ministries — 26 U.S.C. section 5000a “expressly exempts members of certain health sharing ministries from the individual mandate,” Brown explained.
Brown said that the new ministry “builds on the strength of Samaritan Ministries” by having a national Catholic support system, “a health care membership debit card to expedite the health care sharing process,” negotiating ability to help with “keeping medical costs affordable,” and various tools that “empower CMF CURO members to be good stewards of their health.”
In addition to mundane needs, Brown says CMF CURO “was created to change the culture of health care to make Christ the center.” This ideal, according to Brown, allows CMF CURO “to help ensure that physicians can assist patients without the excessive intervention of third parties, such as insurance companies and a government whose recent health care regulations have failed to protect life and have violated our religious liberties.”
Those interested in considering CMF CURO for coverage for themselves or their families can go to the ministry's website for more information.