.- When the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, it immediately prompted concerns about freedom of conscience.
From this seemingly adverse situation sprouted a new cost-sharing organization, Solidarity HealthShare, which aims to place Catholic values, the common good, and affordable healthcare at the center of its mission.
“The inspiration of it was when the Affordable Care Act was passed. Some Catholic leaders in Phoenix realized that our religious liberty and our consciences were going to be violated if Catholics had to follow these mandates,” the company’s CEO Bradley Hahn told CNA.
“So that kind of led the journey to find an ethical and affordable way to pay for medical costs,” Hahn continued.
The Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010. It includes a mandate from the Department of Health and Human Services requiring insurance plans to fund contraception, sterilizations and early abortion pills. The mandate has prompted lawsuits from more than 300 plaintiffs, including companies, non-profits, U.S. states, and individuals who say that it violates their religious beliefs. Many of these lawsuits are still in the process of litigation.
In response to religious freedom concerns – as well as concerns about rising insurance costs – some Americans began turning to health care-share organizations, which have grown in popularity over the past few years.
Solidarity HealthShare, based in Phoenix, Arizona, was founded in 2012 in conjunction with a pre-existing healthshare group called Melita Christian Fellowship Hospital Aid Plan. Solidarity HealthShare facilitates health-sharing among individuals and families across the country, who are looking to opt out of traditional healthcare for a more ethical and faith-centered option.
Solidarity HealthShare is not health insurance. Rather, it is a ministry intended to share the financial burden of those who pay for their own healthcare through voluntary, financial sharing of eligible medical costs between its members.
Rather than paying premiums to an insurance company, every member pays a monthly “share,” which is directly matched to another member’s medical bills.
Solidarity HealthShare is a non-profit organization and exempt from federal regulations, protecting it from the contraception mandate.
Its members are also exempt from a separate mandate requiring individuals to purchase health insurance.
Since their official launch last week, Solidarity HealthShare has gained about 50 members in total, but Hahn expressed that they are looking to “add about a thousand members in the next couple of months.” Although they began taking members in July, Solidarity HealthShare didn’t formally launch until Oct. 4.
Within a week, there was an incredible outpouring of support for Solidarity HealthShare. Hahn said “the response from Catholics across the country has been very incredibly positive and grateful that Catholics now have an option that's available to them.”
Solidarity HealthShare welcomes any members who agree with the “moral, ethical teachings of the Catholic Church,” Hahn noted, saying that the whole backbone of the organization is founded upon the Catholic Church’s teachings.
The namesake of the organization points to the Catholic Church’s teachings on solidarity, Hahn explained, saying “we aren’t just committed to ourselves, we are committed to the common good and to help others.”
Hahn also said that the idea behind solidarity encompasses problem-solving at the lowest level possible. In this case, Solidarity HealthShare is aiming to “restore that relationship where the doctor and the patient decide what is best for medical care.”
Following their launch, Solidarity HealthShare is looking forward to gaining more members and spreading the word about alternative health care sharing through evangelization.
“We want to use Solidarity as an evangelization tool. We want to reach out to other groups and ministries to help basically catechize and explain why certain medical procedures are objectionable morally,” Hahn stated.
“We want to use Solidarity more as an outreach so we can educate everyone, because the healthcare system touches everybody.”