Navigating Obamacare

Navigating ObamacareAs we approach the year 2014 and the upcoming changes in the health care sector as mandated by the Affordable Care Act (informally known as ObamaCare), we as Christians are faced with decisions to make as to how we will comply with the federally mandated health care requirements. In some cases, Christians may feel that they will be forced to participate in health insurance that supports policies they may find objectionable and against their conscience, such as paying for elective abortions, the morning after pill, and other reproductive issues. But there are in fact options that are available that will allow such Christians to keep a clear conscience and still obey legal requirements.

The deadline for compliance has been changed
Parts of the law which required full compliance by January 1, 2014, have been changed to March 31, 2014. The individual mandate still takes effect January 1. Consumers have until March 31 to enroll in health insurance coverage or risk being assessed with a fine (see legal alternative 3 below). This gives individuals an extra three months to explore their legal options and seek alternative insurance providers, if available.

Three legal alternatives to enrolling in ObamaCare
According to the Citizens Council for Health Freedom, Christians have a number of legal alternatives to ObamaCare when it comes to health insurance choices. Basically the options are:

1) Obtain Private Insurance
It may be possible to find a plan outside of the government bureaucratic structure that meets the Affordable Care Act’s “minimum essential coverage” requirement. This is discussed in detail below.

2) Claim one or more of the nine exemptions to ObamaCare
There are four exemptions from the individual mandate and five exemptions (including an additional list of hardship exemptions) from the uninsured tax.

3) Go uninsured and pay the uninsured tax
Penalties for adults without required coverage begin at $95, or up to 1% of your income in 2014, whichever is greater, and will increase annually. Penalties for children under age 18 begin at $47.50.

There are healthcare sharing ministries that provide Christ-honoring alternatives to insurance under ObamaCare
On pages 107 and 128 of the Affordable Care Act, Christians who participate in healthcare sharing ministries are exempt from the individual mandate to obtain health insurance. However, in order to be eligible for the exemption, the healthcare sharing ministry must have been in operation since 1999. There are only three organizations nationwide that qualify under these terms: Samaritan Ministries, Christian Healthcare Ministries, and Medi-Share. Between these three ObamaCare-approved ministries, hundreds of thousands of Christians have had their medical bills paid—totaling millions of dollars every month. This concept is scriptural, as we are reminded in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (NKJV)

Millions of Americans are eligible for ObamaCare tax credits
According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, as many as 17 million low- to moderate-income Americans should be eligible for tax credits to buy private health insurance under President Barack Obama’s healthcare law in 2014. The number of eligible individuals varies by state, ranging from Texas, where as many as 2 million qualify, to the District of Columbia with 9,000. Florida has about 1.6 million who qualify. This number excludes those who qualify for Medicaid insurance for the poor. The tax credits are only available for people who apply for coverage through the state-based health insurance marketplace. To qualify, individuals must have incomes of between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which translates to a range of $23,550 to $94,200 for a family of four.

Watch for legal challenges currently in the court system
Four Christian universities in Oklahoma have filed suit against the Obama administration to challenge the requirement that they provide insurance coverage for sterilizations, contraception, and drugs that induce abortions. Southern Nazarene University, Oklahoma Wesleyan University, Oklahoma Baptist University and Mid-America Christian University are being represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is currently handling 13 other lawsuits pertaining to the Affordable Care Act.

Pray for the nation to pursue a course of righteousness
We do not depend on the Federal Government to fulfill the role of the Church, as we rightly have the proper degree of separation of Church and State as envisioned by the founders of the United States Constitution. However, the fact remains that, biblically, God does look upon nations with some degree of corporate responsibility, he judges them as sheep nations and goat nations, and he will bless those nations that bless Israel and will curse those that curse Israel.  (Matthew 25:31-33 NIV, Genesis 12:3) We believe that these promises apply not only to the physical nation of Israel, but to the Body of Christ, who has been entrusted with the representation of Jesus Christ on the earth, to bring about his plan and purpose for the Kingdom of God.

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Bob Woods is a Senior Project Manager at AECOM Technical Services, as well as a published Christian author, and a writer for the Good News of South Florida. He can be reached at [email protected].

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