Alternatives to the Affordable Care Act continue to rise in popularity throughout the State of Illinois. Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2014 opponents to a government run health insurance system have found an alternative to the health insurance mandate while still complying with the federal law. According to James Lansberry, Vice President of Peoria based Samaritan Ministries International, the lack of choices and higher cost have made health sharing ministries a more appealing option. “What we’re seeing is that the exchange plans are nowhere near as robust as people expected them to be. The networks are much narrower, the deductibles are much higher. And so because of that, we’ve become a much more attractive option for people of faith,” Lansberry said. Gina and Jonathan Velez, both Samaritan customers, have described their experience as fantastic, adding that the ability to cost share medical expenses with others is quite satisfying.
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“Knowing that I’m helping someone else directly knowing that someone else has my back, and that’s how this system works is a lot more gratifying, a lot more biblical,” Jonathan Velez said. Health sharing ministries like Samaritan’s are non-profit charities and are not regulated by the Illinois Department of Insurance, something a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Insurance says means consumers won’t have similar protections as those who are insured by a licensed provider. A statement the Illinois Department of Insurance said, “they (health-sharing members) are exempt from the insurance laws of this state ... consumers won't have similar protections such as notification of policy chances and access to complaint processes. Consumers can also potentially be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions." The Department of Insurance encourages customers to contact a licensed insurance agent.