Mind the Coverage Gap (A Look at Healthcare Sharing Ministries)

Painting of Christ healing the sick

Flickr/Creative Commons—Ted

By Gregory M. Lipper

The Wall Street Journal published a story earlier this week about an increase in the number of Americans enrolling in healthcare sharing ministries: faith-based alternatives to standard health insurance. According to the Journal, the number of participants in these ministries has grown from under 200,000, before the Affordable Care Act was enacted, to approximately 500,000 today. Under 26 U.S.C. § 5000A(d)(2)(B), participants in these ministries are exempt from the Act’s individual mandate, which requires most Americans to either obtain qualifying health insurance coverage or pay a tax.

As the Journal article makes clear, however, participants in healthcare ministries lack many of the protections otherwise provided to patients by the Affordable Care Act. For example,

  • Ministries often don’t cover preexisting conditions;
  • Ministries often don’t cover preventive care; and
  • Ministries often don’t cover contraception, maternity care, or mental-health care.

If and when coverage disputes arise, moreover, “[m]inistries generally don’t allow members to sue and require disagreements to be settled by arbitration and mediation.”

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Medical Malpractice in an Emergency Room. What Constitutes an “Emergency” Treatment?

By Alex Stein

Georgia’s Supreme Court has recently delivered an important decision interpreting the “emergency room” doctrine: Nguyen v. Southwestern Emergency Physicians, P.C., — S.E.2d —-, 2015 WL 6631964 (Ga. 2015).  Anyone interested in medical malpractice law should know about that decision. Continue reading

1/20/16: Register Now! A Conversation with Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner 2009-2015

A Conversation with Margaret A. Hamburg, FDA Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), speaks during an interview in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, May 28, 2014. A new program that lets drugmakers move more quickly through the approval process for breakthrough products may help lower the cost of life-saving treatments, Hamburg, the nation's chief drug regulator, said today. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesCommissioner 2009-2015
January 20, 2016 12:30 PM
Wasserstein Hall, Milstein East ABC (2nd floor)
Harvard Law School, 1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA

Please join the Petrie-Flom Center for a conversation with former FDA Commissioner (and former New York City Health Commissioner), Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg, led by Peter Barton Hutt, former Chief Counsel to FDA and current Senior Counsel at Covington & Burling LLP and Lecturer on Law at HLS. Topics discussed will include FDA’s role and the changing scientific, legal, political, and economic landscape; the overlap of science, innovation, and cost regarding biomedical products; food safety and nutrition; challenges of globalization, and more.

Speakers:

  • Margaret A. Hamburg, Commissioner of the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, 2009-2015
  • Peter Barton Hutt, Covington & Burling and Harvard Law School

This event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited and registration is required. Register now!

Sponsored by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School and the Center for Bioethics at Harvard Medical School, with support from the Oswald DeN. Cammann Fund.