Sharity Ministries, Inc., formerly Trinity Healthshare, Inc. has filed for bankruptcy and has ceased operating, Connecticut Insurance Commissioner Andrew N. Mais announced today.
After a recent Connecticut Insurance Department investigation, Trinity and The Aliera Companies had agreed, pursuant to a consent order, to stop selling memberships in Connecticut, notify members of the investigation, cover existing member costs, and pay a combined fine of $50,000, the department said in a news release.
Commissioner Mais now recommends Healthcare Sharing Ministry (HCSM) members consider a more traditional health insurance arrangement through the Affordable Care Act (ACA). For more information about ACA plans, coverage, and benefits, visit Connecticut’s Health Insurance Marketplace, Access Health CT. A Special Open Enrollment period has been extended through October 31st, 2021.
“Consumers need protection from these practices and the Department will provide that,” said Commissioner Mais. “It is important for anyone who purchased a HCSM membership with Sharity to find coverage from a licensed insurer through Access Health CT by October 31st. The Department is always willing to verify licensing and answer questions from consumers.”
“Consumers should be careful when purchasing health insurance,” said State Senator Matthew Lesser, Co-chair of the Insurance and Real Estate Committee. “So-called ‘Health care sharing ministries’ are unlicensed and there is little recourse available if one of these companies shuts down or refuses to pay a health care bill. If it sounds too good to be true it probably is.”
“This past session, we heard both positive and negative testimony from customers that use health sharing ministries to cover their health care cost. These are not insurance products, but this certainly deserves our full attention to protect the public,” said State Representative Kerry Wood, Co-chair of the Insurance & Real Estate Committee. “I’m thankful Access Health CT is one of the many options for these customers and I urge everyone to take advantage of these plans while the federal government subsidizes costs.”
An HCSM is a group of members who share a common set of ethical or religious beliefs. These HCSM offerings are not health insurance plans, are not compliant with the ACA, and are not regulated by state or federal authorities, the department said.
The department has received complaints from Connecticut consumers who purchased a HCSM membership believing they had bought a traditional health insurance policy later learning that the plans were not insurance with no guarantee that any portion of their medical bills would be paid, the release said.
Access Health CT opened a Special Enrollment Period from May 1 to October 31, 2021 for new and existing customers to take advantage of newly available financial help for people at virtually all income levels through the 2021 American Rescue Plan Act. A Special Enrollment Period is a time outside of the Annual Open Enrollment Period when you can sign up for health insurance coverage through Access Health CT.