Healthcare ministries growing in popularity - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Healthcare ministries growing in popularity

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1,500 households, or close to 4,000 South Carolinians are placing their trust in their friends, neighbors and congregation when it comes to paying for their health insurance.

Healthcare sharing ministries are faith-based organizations that share their medical bills without traditional insurance. Each month, members send a check for the same amount to a different person within their network who has medical bills to pay off.

Stat lawmakers recently put their support behind a bill that would classify ministries as non-profit, tax exempt organizations separate from traditional insurance company regulations.

The ministries are also gaining popularity as the health care mandate approaches.

"Ministries are exempt from the Affordable Care Act," said Joe Guarino with the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries.

"So come January 2014, you will not have to purchase health insurance if you are already enrolled in a health insurance, if you're already participating in a health care sharing ministry," said Guarino.

Members of the ministry must follow strict lifestyle rules including no excessive drinking, no smoking and no premarital sex.

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