Statehouse Headliners: State law to eliminate faith-based health cost sharing faces pushback

By Guy Page

The Individual Health Insurance Mandate bill, H.524, would eliminate faith-based health expense cost-sharing in Vermont. However, cost-sharing advocates are pushing back.

About 500 Vermont families participate in health expense cost-sharing programs, attorney Dave Sterrett said during a visit to the Vermont Statehouse on Tuesday. He represents several health-expense cost-sharing organizations. Members pay a monthly fee and participate in networks in which they help pay each other’s health care bills with reduced-rate, direct cash payments to health care providers. Many of these groups are faith-based. The system began with the Amish, was adopted by Mennonites, and is now used by more than a million American families nationwide, Sterrett said.

In his March 19 letter to all Health Care Committee members, Ed Chase of Westford describes how health care sharing works for his Vermont daughter’s family:

My daughter’s family participates in one of the health care sharing ministries and they have never failed to pay any of their family’s health care expenses that exceeded the $300 copay they have. Well care is not covered, but you may not be aware that many medical organizations provide serious discounts to people who pay at the time of service. Her pediatrician, for example, gives a 50% discount if the member is paying them directly because it saves them all the administrative expense of billing insurance. Further, if she pays at the time of service, there is an additional 25% discount, so she ends up paying only 25% of what an insurance company would be billed.

Health-sharing is exempted from the “Obamacare” federal individual mandate to have health insurance. H.524 would eliminate that exemption. It also “would prohibit licensed brokers from accepting payment for enrolling Vermont residents in certain health expense-sharing arrangements,” the bill’s introductory statement says.

H.524 was introduced March 15 by the Health Care Committee and later this week is scheduled to appear before the Ways and Means Committee. At least one member of Ways and Means said his committee may restore the federal health-sharing exemption.

If so, that decision may please Chase and the hundreds of affected Vermont families. His letter concludes, “All this goes to say that her family has excellent medical coverage for anything that would cost over $300 and it saves her a considerable amount of money compared to conventional insurance.”

Statehouse Headliners is intended primarily to educate, not advocate. It is e-mailed to an ever-growing list of interested Vermonters, public officials and media. Guy Page is affiliated with the Vermont Energy Partnership; the Vermont Alliance for Ethical Healthcare; and Physicians, Families and Friends for a Better Vermont.

Image courtesy of Bruce Parker/TNR

7 thoughts on “Statehouse Headliners: State law to eliminate faith-based health cost sharing faces pushback

  1. I am a single father with three children. I have two jobs, & usually work six days a week. I object to my money being used for abortions & sex changes on religious grounds. VT Health Connect was unaffordable, offering me a “plan” for $760/ month just for my coverage. Liberty Health Share, a Christian Health Sharing Ministry, saved me financially & morally. For $241 a month, I have $1,000,000 catastrophic coverage per event. I have never submitted a claim, as I have never come close to the deductible, & pay out of pocket to my physician at the time services are delivered. The State is acting like a tyrant, forcing one market after another to comply with its will. The Gods of the Valleys are not the Gods of the Hills, and you shall know the difference.

  2. These morons are dumber than even I thought. Send ’em home. They have done too much damage and they still have a worthless several weeks ahead to cause more ciaos!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

  3. I will leave Vermont and take my business with me. If Vermont thinks I am their pet or I am owned by them they are wrong. I can get my insurance where ever I choose. If I choose to get it somewhere other than their socialist list then I will do so. If it is not accepted in Vermont then I will go to get my medical attention in another state and drop my citizenship of Vermont.
    BTW-I deliver an additional $5,000,000 / year to the state of Vermont but I am willing to move my business to another state if I must. Sorry, I don’t buy your false lies and over priced health care offerings. The beauty of America is that there are plenty of other states who want my business. I await your final decision.

    A 5 year resident (and business owner)
    Use your heads Vermont. Look at what is happening to NY, California and other old and crumbling cities and states. They are going broke fast and I don’t think the rest of the country will bail them out again. Wake up and do the right thing or find out the hard way that an additional 40,000+ folks will move south….or will you arrest them for leaving?

    • Consider Alabama, I winter here and know about the prosperous business atmosphere. It’s a great state. Many major business are here and more coming. In Baldwin country heard that people are moving to this county every 9 minutes. Yet there are vast areas of country and a labor force. You have a sense of freedom here and there’s a lot to do and good hunting and fishing. There are no walls around VT keeping anyone there. The coldest I’ve seen it was the high 20’s then it warms quickly. No snow labor and the sun sets later (eliminating cabin fever). Can’t say enough. Joe Pattis seafood place in Pensacola is a great place to buy FRESH seafood (all types), see and there the best Naval Museum and the Blue Angles Flying team.

      PS I don’t get paid for this info / promotion

        • Many great places to expand the belly button. Near-by is McGuire’s Irish Pub. A great place politicians and sport celebs visit. On the ceiling there are about 50,000 one-dollar bills hanging in every room, all signed. Great Irish food and very busy. It’s behind the Civic Center, that are still having hockey games-the playoffs, $10 a seat in pigeon heaven, but you can move downward if empty seats.

    • E W B:

      You’ve already spent 5 years too many in VT. Don’t be too hard on yourself I did the same thing. Finally had it and picked up my bags and haven’t looked in the rear view mirror since. Just need to get the rest of the extended family out. Only way Vt is going to learn is if you starve the beast.

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