December 30, 2019
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler ordered Trinity Healthshare to pay $150,000 and permanently stop insuring people in Washington state. Trinity marketed itself as a health care sharing ministry but failed to meet the legal definition under state law.
“Many consumers here and in other parts of the country thought they were buying a health insurance plan, only to find out that pre-existing and chronic conditions weren’t covered," Kreidler said. "That resulted in many people facing thousands of dollars of debt for medical expenses they believed would be covered.”
In May, Kreidler ordered the company, along with its unlicensed insurance producer Aliera, to immediately stop selling health insurance and halt deceptive business practices after receiving dozens of complaints from consumers who were denied coverage when filing medical claims.
As of June 2019, Aliera and Trinity sold 3,058 policies to Washington consumers and collected $3.8 million in premiums. Kreidler’s office estimates that Trinity owed $42,289 in premium taxes.
Trinity had initially exercised its right to a hearing, but reversed course. The $150,000 fine will go to the state general fund.
A legal healthcare sharing ministry is a nonprofit organization whose members have a common set of ethical or religious beliefs and share medical expenses consistent with those beliefs. Federal and state laws require that healthcare sharing ministries be formed before Dec. 31, 1999, and their members to have been actively sharing medical costs. Trinity was formed in June 2018 with no members.
Trinity will notify Washington policyholders that they can keep their coverage for up to one calendar year to allow time to look for other health insurance options. Open enrollment for 2020 ends today.
Enforcement action is continuing for Aliera, the insurance producer. The company demanded a hearing, maintaining that it hasn’t broken any state laws. Aliera administered and marketed health coverage on behalf of Trinity. Aliera and Trinity are named in a class-action lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Western Washington.
Kreidler’s office oversees Washington’s insurance industry to ensure that companies, agents and brokers follow state laws. Since 2001, Kreidler has assessed more than $28 million in fines, which are deposited in the state's general fund to pay for state services.
The office publishes disciplinary orders against companies, agents and brokers. You can search by name, year and month they took effect.
For an insurance question or complaint, contact Kreidler’s consumer advocates online or by phone at 800-562-6900.