The ACA (Obamacare) has a special enrollment period that extends the ability for some people to signup through April 30, 2015. This special enrollment is for those who would otherwise pay a tax penalty if they didn’t get insurance yet or have some other qualifying exemption. It doesn’t seem to be widely popular, with 18,000 signing up in California so far and apparently only 36,000 countrywide (http://news.investors.com/politics-obamacare/040615-746512-is-obamacare-enrollment-starting-to-stall.htm). I haven’t seen much advertising for it, so I would bet a lot of people don’t know about it, and then there are thousands who still refuse to signup for financial or moral reasons.
On the other hand, health care sharing ministries don’t have an enrollment window to worry about, you can join one anytime during the year. And you still WON’T PAY the tax penalty for the months you are a member of a qualified ministry. (don’t worry, Samaritan Ministries is a qualifying ministry!! yay!!)
I’ve been reading that overall enrollment numbers for the ACA are far lower than the gov’t wanted. Lower income families have joined at a rate of 76%, but once you climb into higher income brackets of the middle class the take rate is far less even if they get some subsidies. Basically the plans available just don’t cover enough. Sure they may offer a printed list of things they say they will cover, but the deductibles are so high that the typical family ends up paying way too much out of pocket between deductibles and high premiums. Many of them have decided it’s not worth it and are looking for a better way.
Thousands of those people have chosen a health care sharing ministry because when they run the numbers they see that the ministry won’t leave them high and dry when they have a need. Members pay for their checkups, but the cost for those is far less than what they would have to pay if they had a medical need and an insurance plan with a huge deductible. And then throw in the sometimes huge variations between ministry monthly share costs and high insurance premiums. For us it was a savings of thousands of dollars per year to join Samaritan. I can easily pay for a checkup on my own (put a little in savings each month so the money is available when we need it). For that reason I don’t need help with small medical costs. I need help with big costs. Insurance offers to pay the small costs I can already manage and afford, but then sticks me with high bills if I have a bigger need. It’s completely illogical for our family. Samaritan is logical, supportive, and there for its members. Samaritan’s strength is its members and how we all share in each other’s needs each month, both financially and spiritually. Insurance can’t offer me that.