“A Bridge Too Far” is a 1977 epic film regarding the failed Allied operation in Nazi-occupied Netherlands during World War II. No, this is not a post reviewing the film. However, the title of the film applies to a Court of Appeals ruling that limited the extension of “other health and accident coverage” under MCL 500.3109a.
In Meemic Ins Co v Christian Care Ministry, Inc, ___ Mich App ______ (2022), the Court of Appeals addressed whether a Health-Care Sharing Ministry classifies as a health insurer under MCL 500.3109a. Under MCL 500.3109a, coordination of coverage occurs with “other health and accident coverage on the insured,” meaning that the insured must obtain payment and services from the health insurer if health coverage is coordinated with their PIP policy. In this case, the insured purchased no-fault insurance at a lower price from Meemic, on the basis that he had health insurance through Medi-Share – a provider under the Health Care Sharing Ministries Freedom to Share Act.
The Court of Appeals ultimately held that coordination does not apply to an entity like Medi-Share. The Court of Appeals found that the Legislature placed health care sharing ministries entities, such as Medi-Share, entirely outside of the insurance system. The Court of Appeals noted that health care sharing ministry facilities provided assistance to its participants on a purely voluntary basis based on a person’s financial needs. The Court of Appeals stated that this arrangement was the “antithesis of coverage.” In light of this, the Court of Appeals found that a Health-Care Sharing Ministry was simply a bridge too far under MCL 500.3109a.
When a policy is coordinated, an insurer must take a deeper dive in order to determine if the health insurer in fact satisfies MCL 500.3109a. For entities like Medi-Share that provide benefits purely on a voluntary basis based on an insured’s unique financial needs, courts will likely continue to find that these entities do not satisfy the purpose of the statute and do not absolve an insurer from its obligations under the policy or no-fault act. Accordingly, moving forward, it will not only be important for the insurer to investigate if there is a qualified health insurer, but also examine the intent of the entity itself in order to determine if a court would find applying MCL 500.3109a to that entity to be a bridge too far. By engaging in this investigation, the insurer can eliminate any potential argument for interest/attorney fees based an unreasonable denial.