About 10,000 families have ended up with more than $50 million in unpaid medical bills after their health sharing ministry shut down.
Sharity Ministries, formerly known as Trinity HealthShare, filed for bankruptcy in late 2021 and began the liquidation process. With so many outstanding claims against the ministry, it is unlikely that its members will receive the reimbursements they are owed.
Sharity Ministries operated as a nonprofit that offered an alternative to traditional health insurance. As a health care sharing ministry, members pay premiums and voluntarily agree to share their medical expenses in accordance with their Christian beliefs, according to the company's previous website.
Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have taken actions against Sharity.
In October 2019, the New Hampshire Insurance Department ordered Sharity, along with the Aliera Companies, which had administered and marketed the health coverage, to stop issuing new plans or renewing coverage in the state after receiving dozens of complaints.
Meanwhile, in January, California Attorney General Rob Bonta filed suit against Sharity, alleging that the ministry illegally denied benefits to its members while pocketing up to 84% of their payments.
California said Aliera is a for-profit corporation that collected hundreds of millions of dollars in premiums from thousands of Californians and others around the U.S. through unauthorized health plans and insurance sold through Sharity/Trinity.
Instead of paying members' health care costs, the state alleges the company routinely denied claims and spent just 16 cents of every dollar in premiums on health care expenses.
Health care sharing ministries arose after passage of the Affordable Care Act and were promoted as an alternative to ACA-compliant coverage. Health care sharing ministries were permitted to let consumers pool their money with others who share their religious beliefs, with the goal of assisting each other through medical emergencies.
They were exempted from many of the ACA’s coverage requirements, and some companies began marketing the sharing plans as a cheaper alternative to ACA-compliant plans.