Ministry health

Department of Health Care Sharing goes bankrupt, leaving thousands of families stuck with millions in unpaid bills

About 10,000 families who used to share each other’s medical expenses through a shared health care ministry are now facing more than $50 million in unpaid bills after the ministry abruptly shut down.

Christianity today (CT) reports that Sharity Ministries, formerly known as Trinity HealthShare, filed for bankruptcy and then began the liquidation process last year. There are so many outstanding claims that members are unlikely to receive the refunds owed to them.

Sharity has faced lawsuits as well as cease and desist orders in multiple states. Sharity and its provider, Aliera Healthcare, both based in Georgia, were targeted by state regulators in 2019 after receiving complaints from residents about unpaid claims, according to NHPR.

As CBN News reported in 2020, Trinity was ordered by the California State Insurance Commissioner to stop selling a cost-sharing plan as a replacement for health insurance.

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California issued a cease and desist order against Aliera and Trinity because the two health care sharing departments allegedly misled consumers by offering identical products to health insurance policies without the approval of the state, The New York Times reported at the time.

Shared Health Care Ministries allow their members to pool their health care premiums, so that medical expenses are covered by all members. The lower costs have been attractive to many Christians because they don’t cover certain procedures such as abortion, transgender surgery and assisted suicide, which they may find morally wrong, according to CatholicSay.com.

According to The temperature, more than a million Americans have joined HCSM, lured by far lower rates than most traditional insurance. However, these plans are not held to the same strict standards as health insurance companies. Because they are not defined as insurance, there is no guarantee that health care costs will be covered.

“Consumers who purchased these plans thinking they purchased comprehensive health insurance deserve the full protection of our laws,” California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara said in a statement at the time of the cease and desist order. refrain.

But in a January 2020 opinion piece published on CBNNews.com titled “Setting the Records Straight on Shared Healthcare Ministries,” Medi-Share CEO Scott Reddig defended the efficiency of these groups in covering the medical expenses of their participants, rejecting the charges of the State of New York. Time. “In 2019, more than $50 million in medical bills were shared each month by devotees of Medi-Sharing,” he wrote.

“For our more than 400,000 members, they are saying loud and clear that this program provides them with a great experience with real value alongside the intangible blessing of the community,” Reddig said.

It is not clear if each Health Share Department has the same standards or a high approval rating as Medi-Share.

Earlier this year, California sued Sharity, alleging the department dismissed the majority of claims and spent as little as 16 cents on premiums. Even the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries called Sharity a “fictitious front group” for the for-profit health care management company Aliera, according to CT.

Sharity had blamed Aliera, her salesperson, for acting in bad faith against the ministry and its members, and had tried to distance herself from the company, according to the outlet.

The organization’s board of directors voted in April 2021 to begin bankruptcy proceedings to reorganize the business after discovering members’ unmet medical claims were double what it had anticipated.

Sharity began the bankruptcy process in July. However, during the proceedings, the board instead voted to liquidate the entire organization. The company was dissolved last December.

The organization’s former president and board member, Joe Guarino, said Christianity today he was the only one of the five-member council to abstain from voting. He said he told the board he had a plan that would work.

“As a Christian, I felt it was not fair to let our members hang around like this,” Guarino said. “I can’t tell you how many times since then I’ve sobbed about those tens of thousands of families who can’t afford to pay their medical bills. For many of them, I’m sure it destroyed their lives.”

Last November, Aliera was found guilty of fraud in a federal class action lawsuit with a judgment of more than $4.7 million. He was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December.

CT reported a liquidation trust for Sharity was set up to distribute the remaining money to members with unpaid bills. But, according to a New Hampshire Department of Insurance According to a statement released last December, “the money recovered is likely to be only a fraction of the total.”