John Oliver on Sunday night took a deep dive into the world of health care sharing ministries (HCSM), the faith-based schemes that might resemble health insurance, but aren’t actually health insurance. And many participants find out only after it’s too late.
The “Last Week Tonight” host told the story of one family whose child had a brain tumor removed and was stuck with a $325,000 bill that was not covered by their HCSM.
“Holy shit,” Oliver said in disbelief, calling it “exactly the kind of immoral behavior I’d expect sharing ministries to classify as ‘fucking disqualifying.’”
The company eventually paid after the story received media coverage.
“It shows just how little recourse you have,” Oliver said. “If you don’t have a child that you can get onto TV to shame the company into action, you could be shit out of luck.”
Oliver said he understands why people sign up for HCSMs.
“I do get the appeal of lower-cost health insurance,” Oliver said. “The problem is, this isn’t that. It’s not insurance at all, and states need at the very least to pass laws to make sure that people know what they’re getting into with HCSMs and to force them to allocate funds properly.”
But some states, he said, were doing just the opposite. For example, Florida has lowered the bar so much that just about anyone can create an HCSM. Anyone, including Oliver himself. So, he resurrected his “church,” Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption, which he created in 2015 to show how easy it was to use religion to exploit tax loopholes.
Now, that church has a spinoff called Our Lady of Perpetual Health, which offers an HCSM called JohnnyCare, complete with its own website.
“The whole thing was scarily easy to do,” Oliver said.
Then, he brought back comedian Rachel Dratch as his mock televangelist wife to explain this totally bonkers and 100 percent legal scheme, now available to Florida residents with $1.99 to spare and a desire for three Band-Aids: