Kentucky has a history of being notoriously bad on health insurance issues. We now have an interesting opportunity to push back in a big way, but need some national help to do it.
In 1994, after the failure of HillaryCare, Kentucky destroyed its individual
health insurance market by requiring insurers to accept all applications
regardless of health status. Dozens of health insurance companies immediately
left the state, leaving only one. The legislature subsequently restored some
sanity to the marketplace, but some big problems remain.
A small corner of the ObamaCare debate has escaped the national spotlight.
That corner is occupied by religious-based health sharing organizations, which
are exempt from the so-called Affordable Care Act.
Three such organizations, Christian Care Medi-Share, Samaritan Ministries and
Christian Healthcare Ministries are at the center of a very quiet debate running
right to the heart of what is wrong with the idea of government regulating
In 2002, Kentucky filed a lawsuit against Christian Care Medi-Share, alleging
that the company fit the state’s definition of an insurance company and needed
to be regulated as such. This effectively destroys the company’s ability to
operate in the state because their ability to avoid the state’s crazy quilt of
mandates and their much lower premiums are what could make them a better choice
for some consumers.
To their credit, Medi-Share refused to just go away quietly. They won
exemptions in court while the state kept appealing. In 2010, the Kentucky
Supreme Court ruled against Medi-Share and the state moved then to remove them
To their credit, again, Medi-Share refused to leave. And this is where it
gets really interesting.
Perhaps realizing they don’t want to get caught on the wrong side of the
Affordable Care Act — actually worse than ObamaCare! — just as the fire gets
really hot, Kentucky has stopped fighting to remove Medi-Share. They still tell
callers to the Department of Insurance consumer information line that Medi-Share
is operating illegally and shouldn’t be trusted to serve citizens’ health care
financing needs, but there has been no official action against the company for
almost a year.
And the sad truth is that, given the way the state law is written,
Kentucky is on solid ground in persecuting the Christians who seek refuge from
federal overreach through Medi-Share.
And that’s where the other Christian health sharing companies enter the
story. A Kentucky Department of Insurance spokeswoman told me almost three weeks
ago that further action against Medi-Share was imminent and that while Samaritan
and Christian Healthcare had previously been investigated and found to be
properly operating outside the bounds of state insurance regulation, they would
be investigated again.
There has been no apparent official action since then. And the truth is
Samaritan and Christian Healthcare also operate in conflict with Kentucky
Arbitrary application of the law is prohibited by Kentucky’s Constitution.
State regulators have created a chilling effect on consumers and Christian
health sharing organizations with their actions. The proper action is to enforce
the law universally or to repeal it and allow this opportunity for health
freedom to flourish.
Kentucky needs to repeal this worse-than-ObamaCare provision in state law by
redefining “insurance” in KRS Chapter 304 to exclude health sharing
organizations and we need to do it this summer in special session to prevent
further harm to Kentucky Christians.
And if, in doing so, we expand those freedoms beyond just Christians, then so
much the better. But to do any of this, we need to draw national attention to
this fight. Please spread the word as widely as you can.