(CN) – An evangelical association that offers “affordable, biblical health care” qualifies as an insurance provider subject to state regulation, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled.
Medi-Share is operated by the American Evangelistic Association and the Christian Share Ministry. Members join the organization and pay each others’ medical bills.
Medi-Share does not consider itself insurance, is not licensed to sell insurance, and does not face the same state regulations with which insurance companies must comply.
Members must commit to a Christian lifestyle, including church attendance and the avoidance of tobacco, illegal drugs and alcohol abuse.
The state sued Medi-Share for the unauthorized sale of insurance.
The lower courts ruled that Medi-Share was not insurance, but the state Supreme Court reversed, siding with the state.
“If Medi-Share was a pure charity, it is doubtful that its advertising would focus so heavily on the personal benefits one can receive by becoming a member,” Justice Daniel Venters wrote. “Indeed, the thrust of the advertising is that it is an economical alternative to conventional health insurance programs. The conclusion that Med-Share functions not as a charity, but as a type of insurance is well supported by the evidence in the record.”