Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Return Of The Mutual Aid Society

The title is probably misleading, as the Odd Fellows and Knights of Columbus are still around, but Reason has a fascinating story in the "reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated" vein: mutual aid societies (in the guise of "sharing ministries") have made a comeback in the wake of Obamacare.
I predicted that Obamacare would lead to the demise of Samaritan and two similar organizations in the U.S. This model, I thought, wouldn’t be able to compete with the heavily subsidized plans soon to become available on the new health-care exchanges.
Wow, did I get that wrong. As The New York Times reported recently,
[M]embership in sharing ministries has more than doubled over the last six years, to 535,000 from about 200,000…The growth seems to have come largely through word of mouth, at churches, schools and workplaces.
There's also this:
The opportunity to help their fellow Christians is something these men and women deeply value. "Instead of wanting to be part of an insurance company, I wanted to be part of something where the body of Christ was banding together and doing what the bible commanded in a more personal and real way," Samaritan's Executive Vice President James Lansberry told me in an interview.
 Yes, this. One of the basic problems I see with the state-centered approach to charity is how much it divorces the giver from the recipient. I'm not sure how real that connection can be in an organization that now numbers 200,000 members, but it certainly seems more likely than a huge bureaucracy numbering millions.

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