May 13, 2019
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler today ordered Aliera Healthcare, Inc. (Aliera) and Trinity Healthshare, Inc. (Trinity), both of Delaware, to immediately stop selling health insurance illegally in Washington state and engaging in deceptive business practices.
Aliera, an unlicensed insurance producer in Washington, has been administering and marketing health coverage on behalf of Trinity Healthshare. Trinity represents itself as a health care sharing ministry, which would be exempt from state insurance regulation. A legal health care sharing ministry is a nonprofit organization whose members share a common set of ethical or religious beliefs and share medical expenses among members.
Kreidler’s office has received more than 20 complaints from consumers. Some people believed they were buying health insurance and did not know they had joined a health care sharing ministry. Many people discovered this when their claims were denied because their medical conditions were considered pre-existing under the plan.
“Legitimate health care sharing ministries offer a valuable service to their members,” said Kreidler. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing players out there trying to use the exemptions enjoyed by legitimate ministries to skirt insurance regulation and mislead trusting consumers. I want these outfits to know we’re on to them and we will hold them accountable.”
Kreidler’s investigation into Aliera found:
- It provides misleading training to sales agents about the nature of its products.
- It promotes misleading advertisements to consumers.
- It inaccurately represents Trinity’s statement of faith as outlined in its bylaws.
- It is operating both as a health care service contractor and a discount plan organization without a license.
- It is selling insurance without a Washington insurance producer license.
Kreidler’s investigation into Trinity found that it fails to meet key federal and state requirements:
- Trinity was formed on June 27, 2018, with zero members. Federal and state law require that health care sharing ministries be formed before Dec. 31,1999 and their members must have been actively sharing medical costs.
- Its bylaws require members to adhere to a Protestant expression of Christian faith. However, its website markets memberships to people of all faiths and its training materials for producers note that Trinity simply requires a belief in a higher power and a healthy lifestyle.
Despite repeated requests from Kreidler’s office, Aliera and Trinity have failed to disclose the number of policies sold in Washington state.
Both companies have 90 days to demand a hearing in front of an administrative law judge.