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Sarah Palin, We Found Your Death Panel

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This week's poll from the Lester & Charlie Institute of Forward Thinking!

Is there anything regular people do that Christians can't do better?

Not to be outdone one-upping Wikipedia with the fact-stripped and fantastic Conservapedia (must be seen to be believed), now they've bested social media with a right-wing Twitter aggregation site called Twitchy, which just sold for an undisclosed amount to a Christian radio conglomerate with the apparently unintentionally ironic name Salem Communications. Add FOX News into the mix and it seems there's no need for any Christian to confront any pesky or inconvenient non-Christian utterance, fact or thought ever again! That is, unless they plan to shop for holiday presents at RadioShack.

We thought that would be enough to keep them busy for a while. Then we found a story that said there's another thing conservatives think they can do better than everyone else: affordable health care.

That got us interested. After all, conservatives -- especially this time of year -- are always going on about some guy Jesus, a man who apparently went around healing the sick for free and didn't mind helping out untouchables and prostitutes. So we decided to take a closer look! Here's what we found out: It turns out that certain Christians who join something called a "medical-sharing ministry" can simply and legally opt-out of the insurance mandate in Obamacare.

It's true! A provision in the Affordable Care Act (did anyone read the whole thing?) allows anyone who joins something called a "medical-sharing ministry" to suffer no federal penalty for failing to buy insurance. And it can be yours, according to the breathless promotion it's getting from right-wing pundits, for less than $300 a month!

Awesome!

To be clear, this is not to say that these people won't suffer any penalty.

Eschewing insurance in favor of joining "a nationwide network of Christians who save money by sharing each other's medical bills" may not bring on the wrath of the the IRS -- but there could be punishing bills from medical providers.

That's because, clearly defined as "not insurance," ministries like the Florida-based non-profit Medi-Share aren't just exempt from regulation regarding solvency (pray they don't go bankrupt), they're also free to deny coverage for anything deemed related to an "un-Biblical lifestyle." Like say, substance abuse rehab. A colonoscopy. Contraception. A mammogram. And Medi-Share's website clearly states that coverage of whatever's left is "not guaranteed in any way."

Wait: How much does all this cost again?

We know you're probably rushing right now to sign up for what sounds like a totally terrific and Christian alternative to buying insurance. But did you know that it's not all that easy to join? You may not have to battle the healthcare.gov website, but you'll have to promise to foreswear alcohol, drugs or non-marital sex. You might need a reference from your minister. Oh, and disqualifying pre-existing conditions are back in play, too. And even if you do get Medi-Share, they're free to reject one of your claims, which is supposed to be OK because you can appeal and get your case reviewed by a panel of seven Medi-Share peers who will decide if your treatment will be covered.

Yes, that's right: Turns out death panels are real. Damn. Do we owe Sarah Palin an apology???

Given how much effort has been put into vilifying Obamacare, it's unsurprising that Christians across America are signing up for these ministries in droves: membership in Medi-Share, now roughly 60,000, has been growing at a clip since Obamacare passed in 2010. So, it's a real thing, and real people are going to find out just what conditions these ministries will cover in the years to come. We'd like to know too. What do YOU think? What awesome things will this Christian not-health-insurance actually pay for?

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Click here to take the poll!

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