More than 150,000 Texans could soon lose their health care option if a bill making its way through the state legislature passes. That may not sound like a significant number to the politicians on the House Insurance Committee who passed HB 573, but we are significant. Our family is significant. We are among those 150,000 Texans.
This harmful legislation would massively expand the jurisdiction of the Texas Department of Insurance over religious ministries. With nearly unlimited power afforded through the bill, this added bureaucracy and regulation could impose insurance-style restrictions on Health Care Sharing Ministries that would threaten their unique religious identity and could eventually even shut them down.
Health Care Sharing Ministries are not health insurance – they are a completely different model for managing health care expenses. These ministries are 501(c)(3) charitable organizations, through which individuals come together to share health care expenses that align with their religious values. Members themselves agree on what types of medical expenses the community will share, so long as they align with their shared biblical beliefs. For families like ours, it is the preferred method of managing our health care expenses and provides us with an affordable alternative to traditional health insurance.
Our family first joined the health care sharing ministry of Medi-Share in 2017 right after we had our first daughter, Emory. For us, the catalyst was Bailey leaving her full-time job as a fundraiser for a local children’s hospital so that she could spend more time with our daughter. Given that our family was still on Bailey’s employee-sponsored health insurance plan and because Kyle’s employer did not offer an affordable coverage option, we knew that we had to look for alternatives. That’s when we discovered that there are options outside of insurance that would not only affordably provide for our family’s health care costs but also align with our Christian values.
Since joining Medi-Share, we’ve added two more children to our household and have had members from all over Texas and the United States share in meeting our family’s health care expenses. The experience in dealing with Medi-Share and getting our health care bills paid quickly versus having to deal with the delays and approval process of traditional insurance isn’t even comparable. We are so grateful that an option like Medi-Share exists because it truly makes it possible for Bailey to stay at home and prioritize her time with our children. Without Medi-Share, that probably wouldn’t have been possible for us. But even more than that, we love knowing that as members of Medi-Share we are sharing in meeting the needs and expenses of our fellow members, providing crucial financial and spiritual support in what are often challenging circumstances.
When we heard about this bill, we were surprised that these new regulations were being proposed here in Texas, especially given Texas’ conservative values and history of protecting and prioritizing freedom and religious liberties. Being life-long Texans, we were both raised to appreciate this state’s frontier spirit and fierce belief in independence and individual freedom. We see Texas as a place of opportunity where we can freely live out our values and grow and support our family. HB 573 is an affront to Texas values and is the opposite of conservative governance. It opens the door to bureaucracy, takes away opportunity, and discounts religious freedoms.
Texans like us deserve choice when it comes to personal matters like health care, faith, values and our family. Inserting the heavy hand of government regulation and micromanagement into this arena doesn’t make any sense, but unfortunately that is exactly what HB 573 would do.
Losing Medi-Share as a health care option for our family would be devastating. The cost of a traditional health insurance plan for a single income family relying on a small business employer to provide coverage options is crushing, and it’s hard to fathom what losing our health care sharing option would mean for us. It might even impact Bailey’s ability to stay at home with our children.
We are grateful to have had Medi-Share as an option for our family and we firmly believe that others deserve the same option. HB 573 could ultimately strip more than 150,000 Texans of their health care solution. It is soon heading to the House floor for a vote and could become a law. We stand in opposition to this bill and do not think that it represents our priorities or Texas’ values. If you value these freedoms and options, we urge you to call your representative and senator and ask them to vote against HB 573.