California sues founder of healthcare cost-sharing ministry

California is the latest state to sue The Aliera Companies and its owners, the Moses family, alleging they denied members' medical claims through cost-sharing ministries while pocketing the majority of their premiums, according to a Jan. 12 lawsuit

Aliera — which formed Sharity Ministries, formerly known as Trinity Healthshare — sold unauthorized versions of health plans, which do not contractually bind the organizations to cover healthcare costs, according to the lawsuit. 

These offerings were marketed as healthcare sharing ministries, according to the lawsuit. 

Cost-sharing ministries have come under fire by critics, including talk show host John Oliver, for their ability to arbitrarily deny claims. Often flaunted for their low costs and faith-based coverage, cost-sharing ministries are exempt from many ACA regulations despite the guise of operating similarly to a standard health plan. 

However, Aliera has distanced itself from the title, stating it is a holding and management company that has wholly-owned subsidiaries that offer healthcare cost-sharing ministries.

Through its cost-sharing ministries, the lawsuit alleges Aliera maintained 84 percent of every member's premiums while enrolled Californians faced "crippling amounts of medical debt."

California issued a cease and desist order against Aliera's subsidiaries in 2020, but claims the cost-sharing ministries continued to sell plans until Sharity entered bankruptcy in July 2021. 

According to the lawsuit, California joins 14 other states and the District of Columbia in suing Aliera.

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