By Beth Musgrave
FRANKFORT — A bill that would allow Christian health plans to operate in Kentucky passed the House on Tuesday and is headed for final passage in the Senate.
The House passed Senate Bill 3 88-4 with some minor changes. The bill is in response to a more than decade-long legal battle between the state’s Department of Insurance and Medi-Share, a Christian ministry, over whether it was an insurance company. A judge ordered Medi-Share cease operations on Jan. 1.
Medi-Share operates like an insurance company, but there are no guarantees that members’ medical bills will be paid. Members pay a monthly fee that goes into an account. The money is electronically transferred to other members’ accounts to pay medical expenses. Members pledge to live a Christian lifestyle that includes no smoking and no sex outside of marriage.
The bill would exempt Medi-Share from the state’s insurance regulations but would also require Medi-Share and similar Christian ministries to make clear that the program was not insurance and that there was no guarantees that their medical claim would be paid.
The House made some minor tweaks to the bill. The Senate is expected to approve the changes.