"The Lord Helps Those Who Help Themselves"—Not So Fast, Say Kentucky State Regulators

|

Kentucky state regulators want a judge to lift the religious tax-exemption of the Christian Care Ministry that runs the Medi-Share program. Why? Because it's too much like health insurance. Not being a lawyer, I won't try to delve too deeply into the minutia of insurance regulatons other than to say that more people would be able to purchase affordable health insurance if states imposed fewer mandates, regulations, price controls and whatnot.

On the tax exemption issue–employers get to fully deduct what they pay for their employees' insurance, so by analogy, I have no big problem with Medi-Share getting a tax break too.

Medi-Share appears to me to be exactly the kind of innovative effort in trying to pay for health care that we want to see. Medi-Share is reviving the tradition of mutual aid pioneered by fraternal organizations in the early 20th century. Of course, the law needs to step in if the flock is being fleeced, but otherwise the regulators should butt out.

NEXT: Supply-Siders and Environmentalists vs. the World

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I read in the Chicago Sun-Times earlier in the week that Medi-Share won this case?

    Or is this a different case and they gov’t is trying again?

  2. ChicagoTom: Medi-Share, but the regulators are asking that decision be overturned.

  3. I won’t try to delve too deeply into the minutia of insurance regulatons

    Perhaps we can modulate the phase emitters on the main sensor array to produce a feild of anti-regulatons to counteract their effects. Or barring that, just reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.

  4. Wait… i thought this was Reason… why is no one going, “Fuck religion!”

  5. “On the tax exemption issue–employers get to fully deduct what they pay for their employees’ insurance, so by analogy, I have no big problem with Medi-Share getting a tax break too.”

    Do companies that provide health insurance for employees automatically get tax-exempt status? Of course not, so that’s not a proper analogy.

    If a religious organization wants to get into the health insurance business, fine. But why should they get a taxpayer-funded competitive advantage over regular old non-religious for-profit companies?

  6. So I should get farm subsidies (in the form of additional tax breaks other farmers aren’t getting) as long as I’m sowing in the name of Jesus?

  7. Of course, the law needs to step in if the flock is being fleeced, but otherwise the regulators should butt out.

    If the fleecing involves fraud, then I’d agree. Otherwise, you’re asking the government to save people from making stupid decisions.

  8. Gilmore:

    “why is no one going, ‘F*ck religion!'”

    Because we’re not so dumb as to refuse someone’s help based solely on ideology. If the church isn’t bothering me, why would I go out of my way to be a dick?

    That said, I wonder if the church has an unfair advantage because it competes against entities with no tax exemption. Anybody?

  9. The point is that when the #1 priority of government regulators is to go after private organizations providing good health care to poor people – then it is very hard to claim the unavailability of good health care for poor people is a “market failure”. However, I do expect joe to continue to argue that point, regardless.

  10. “… fraternal organizations in the early 20th century …”

    One of the unintended (most likely) effects of the creation of the welfare state was the near destruction of fraternal organizations, friendly societies, mutual aid socities, etc. (not that they don’t exist anymore it’s simply that their original and most admirable purpose – mutual aid – has been taken over by the state). Why go to the trouble of organizing such groups to provide services when the state will provide the services for you?

    I am not conspiracy minded, but I can hardly think of a better way to decrease the power of the people than by taking away their incentive to organize to solve their problems on their own. Now, a century later, government is actively preventing people from organizing to solve their problems on their own.

    Why? Because it might get in the way of an insanely complex and opaque tax regime? Because it might threaten vested interests? Because the people might recgnize their own power to do for themselves and question the necessity for much of their government?

  11. That said, I wonder if the church has an unfair advantage because it competes against entities with no tax exemption. Anybody?

    Couldn’t anyone start a secular charitable organization and provide the same services? It’s not as if only religions are tax-exempt? Right?

    From what I read, they are not really an insurance company….just a group that pools resources and pays the bills of their members when they have medical bills (and even those payouts aren’t guaranteed)

  12. Given that the statute was specifically called a “religious exemption”, Somehow I have a feeling that a secular organization will not get the same preferential treatment.

  13. Wait… i thought this was Reason… why is no one going, “Fuck religion!”

    Oh jesus, sorry … uh, fuck religion.

  14. Fuck religion and the horse it rode in on.

  15. I don’t add a hearty “amen” to the comment “fuck religion,” and here’s why.

    Reason tells me that as long as we’re dealing with human beings, we have to make allowances for the irrational. I am especially eager for others to tolerate my own brands of idiocy, but to expect them to do so I have to reciprocate.

  16. Some of my uncles and cousins have something vaguely similar. It’s Church-based, non-profit insurance. The organization pools their surplus money into a mutual aid fund for members. They do a lot of charity work too, I guess.

  17. Unfair Tax Advantage! How dare they attempt to unfairly compete with for-profit corporations?
    This is why we have a State- to protect business models. Time to put an end to it by force. I hope they finally clamp down hard on so called “credit unions” and “co-ops”.

  18. Given that the statute was specifically called a “religious exemption”, Somehow I have a feeling that a secular organization will not get the same preferential treatment.

    It will. Churches have a 501(c)(3) “religious” exemption that is only slightly different than the typical 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

    Do companies that provide health insurance for employees automatically get tax-exempt status? Of course not, so that’s not a proper analogy.

    A company has to file the proper forms certifying that the plan chosen is a qualifying health plan. Usually the health plan provider supplies the forms ready for the HR manager to sign and send in.

    The process to qualify for a 501(c)(3) is a couple of orders of magnitude more complicated and expensive.

  19. For the “fuck religion” crowd, I would offer that Atheism is closer to being a religion than true Christianity is. Unfortunately one seldom sees true Christianity practiced on this planet, instead there are numerous versions where feeble humans have attempted to make it into a religion.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.