Alternative to Obamacare – Cost Sharing Ministries

Personal Freedom and Prosperity 109: Subsidiarity

In 1991, Pope John Paul II wrote in the Centesimus Annus that the Welfare State contradicts the principle of subsidiarity by usurping and relieving society of its responsibility to their neighbors and community. This “leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending.”

Alternative to Obamacare – Cost Sharing Ministries

People participating in health-care-cost-sharing groups were exempted from ObamaCare. So, members were not mandated to buy ObamaCare’s prescribed insurance, and in the state of Washington there are approximately 10,000 people participating in a health-care-cost-sharing group. Nationwide, there are close to 400,000 participants.

These health-care-cost-sharing ministries basically operate as a mutual aid society, which assures its members of covering their doctor and hospital costs. Members pay cash for their health services and are then reimbursed by the ministries. In general, the member pays a “share” of approximately $300 to $400 a month, which saves them thousands of dollars a year by opting out of our ObamaCare system.

To join a health-care-sharing ministry, a pastor must verify the person is an active member of a church. Members have a duty to maintain a healthy lifestyle and pray for the recovery of other members, as the Seattle Times reports:

Admittance is simple. Group members must agree to regular church involvement and get a pastor’s signoff. They also agree to adhere to certain health habits, such as avoiding tobacco, heavy drinking and illegal drugs. And they agree to the Golden Rule: Treat others as they’d like to be treated, sending letters of encouragement or support along with required payments.

Incredible! ObamaCare the crowning achievement of the progressives’ welfare state is causing people to rejoin mutual aid societies. What irony! For over a hundred years, America’s ever expanding welfare state contributed to the decline of mutual aid societies. In the 19th Century, voluntary, mutual, aid societies provided similar services as the cost-sharing ministries and much more. Historian David Beito reports almost all of America’s welfare programs were covered by hundreds of societies of all religious and ethnic groups.

A fraternal analogue existed for virtually every major service of the modern welfare state including orphanages, hospitals, job exchanges, homes for the elderly, and scholarship programs.

Contrary to the America’s welfare state, the aid societies encouraged virtue and character skills. Again, in From Mutual Aid to Welfare State: How Fraternal Societies Fought Poverty and Taught Character, Beito writes:

By joining a lodge, an initiate adopted, at least implicitly, a set of survival values.

Societies dedicated themselves to the advancement of mutualism, self-reliance, business training, thrift, leadership skills, self-government, self-control, and good moral character. These values, which can fit under the rubric of social capital, reflected a kind of fraternal consensus that cut across such seemingly intractable divisions as race, sex, and income.

The mutual aid societies were not perfect. However, members aided each other and built positive character traits. Presently, America’s welfare state is providing food, housing, training and more programs. Tragically, the moral and character traits are not and cannot be taught by big government or run by big bureaucracies.

As Pope John Paul II warned in the Centesimus Annus, the bureaucratic welfare state is dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients.

Today, America needs to embrace subsidiarity. Family, neighbors, friends must unite to help to undue the terrible destruction of the welfare state.