Religious Objections to Obamacare? Try Short Term Health Insurance
Healthy living is important for everyone, but not everyone agrees about what constitutes a healthy lifestyle. If your religious and moral views don’t line up with the services that are covered by Obamacare health insurance plans, consider an alternative form of coverage. Short term health insurance may be a means of receiving the healthcare protection that you need without compromising your beliefs.
The Affordable Care Act requires that all major medical insurance plans cover 10 essential health benefits. But just because the ACA considers those services essential doesn’t mean that everyone agrees they’re necessary – or even right. Furthermore, some insurance companies provide an even broader range of services than what federal law requires, and those additional services may increase your objections to major medical coverage.
When you purchase a traditional health insurance plan, your premium payments are added to the insurance company’s financial pool. The money that you paid in will most likely be applied, at least in part, to someone else’s care. You can’t control where those funds go. As such, you may feel that your premium dollars are supporting immoral lifestyles and going toward services to which you are fundamentally opposed. These can include:
Most major medical plans are required to cover women’s birth control and contraceptive methods. These include temporary methods, such as diaphragms, pills and IUDs, along with permanent female sterilization. Emergency contraceptive pills taken after sexual intercourse are also covered. When prescribed by a doctor, these contraceptive services are provided at no cost to female policyholders. Some employers with religious objection are exempt from offering insurance that covers contraceptives, but at the individual level, many plans cover these essential health benefits.
Federal law does not require insurers to include abortion as a covered service. In fact, every state’s marketplace must offer at least one plan that doesn’t cover abortion, and states have the freedom to prohibit any of their marketplace plans from covering this service. However, it’s not uncommon for at least a few insurers in every state to cover abortion services as part of their individual or employer-sponsored major medical plans.
- Drug and Alcohol Treatment
Treatment for substance use disorders is considered an essential health benefit under the ACA because it falls under the broader category of mental and behavioral health service. Insurance companies may help people pay for inpatient or outpatient detox and rehab services. Likewise, treatment for accidents or injuries caused by drug and alcohol abuse might be covered under a major medical plan. This isn’t a guarantee, but as of 2015, only about half of the states in the U.S. allowed insurers to deny coverage based on alcohol or drug-related accidents. The remaining half, including the District of Columbia, either didn’t have a specific rule in place or actually prohibited insurers from excluding coverage based on alcohol and drug use.
- Gender Reassignment
Federal law doesn’t allow insurance companies to categorically rule out all coverage of gender reassignment procedures. Insurers are not allowed to discriminate against transgender people and must approve medically necessary claims even if they don’t traditionally line up with a person’s gender at birth.
Religious Exemptions from Insurance Mandates
When the ACA first became law, there were very few religious grounds on which you could object to buying a major medical policy. Amish communities were some of the only groups to receive this exemption from the law. Others had to buy an ACA-compliant insurance plan or face paying the individual mandate penalty.
In 2018, the Trump administration loosened those rules a bit. The government issued an updated regulation that provided an exemption to some people opposed to abortion. To qualify, in addition to being morally against abortion, you must live in an area where the only affordable marketplace plans are ones that provide abortion coverage. If you meet those qualifications, you can forgo major medical insurance without having to pay the individual mandate fine.
Beginning in 2019, it will be even easier to exercise your religious freedom when it comes to choosing an insurance plan. The individual mandate penalty will be zeroed out starting January 1 of next year. You’ll be able to choose an alternative form of healthcare coverage without worrying about incurring a fine.
Value of Health Insurance
Even if you don’t agree with everything that’s covered by a major medical plan, there’s no denying that there’s value in having health insurance. Medical care is expensive. You might be able to cover your routine care out of pocket, but an emergency or a critical illness could leave you with thousands of dollars in expenses. If you’re like many Americans, you probably don’t have the savings stashed away to cover an unexpected and costly medical disaster.
Insurance companies, however, do have the necessary funds. By paying a monthly premium, you’re protecting yourself against potential future medical bills. If and when you need major care, a good insurance plan can alleviate the cost.
Back to the Basics with Short Term Insurance
Instead of forgoing health insurance because you don’t agree with some of the services that traditional insurance plans cover, consider getting a plan that isn’t bound by the terms of the ACA. Short term health plans are outside the scope of Obamacare, meaning they’re exempt from the requirement to cover all 10 of the legislation’s essential health benefits.
Temporary health insurance is intended to fill gaps in traditional coverage. Its benefits are less comprehensive than those of other plans, and it doesn’t have to adhere to the law’s regulations on consumer protections. This type of insurance doesn’t provide coverage for every medical need but instead focuses on providing a safety net that can guard you against significant financial loss in the case of a major medical event.
Because they don’t have to follow ACA rules, short term plans don’t typically cover the types of services to which you might object. In fact, these policies issue an upfront list of the types of treatment that are expressly excluded from coverage. You’re unlikely to find short term policies that cover:
- Gender reassignment surgery
- Accidents caused by the use of drugs or alcohol
- Preventive care, including women’s contraceptives
Most short term health insurance plans expect you to pay out of pocket for preventive services, or they cover just a single well visit each year. Temporary plans never provide coverage for regular, non-emergency maternity care.
What these plans do cover are the types of medical situations that could happen to anyone. If you suffer a heart attack, need an appendectomy or break your arm while playing in the backyard with your kids, a short term insurance policy can help you take care of your medical bills. You might also be able to use the plan’s benefits if you catch strep throat or sprain your ankle. Rather than being tied to lifestyle choices, these are simply situations that anyone might experience, and they often happen unexpectedly.
Just like everyone else, you could get sick or hurt at any time, making it critical to carry some type of health insurance plan. If you’d rather not contribute to an insurance pool that could be used for funding contraceptives, abortions, drug-related care or gender reassignment, among other services that you might find objectionable, consider short term health insurance instead. With these plans, you can have coverage for life’s big events without compromising your beliefs.