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California orders Christian groups to shut down cost-sharing health plans

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By Tyler Olson | Shutterstock
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The state contends that the popular plans, known as “health care sharing ministries” are misleading consumers.

The California Department of Insurance issued an order Tuesday demanding that two faith-based cost-sharing health plans cease conducting business in the state.

The state issued the Cease and Desist order against Aliera Healthcare, Inc. and Trinity Healthshares, Inc., on the grounds that the two health care sharing ministries are misleading California consumers by operating outside of the laws regulating the insurance industry.

Healthcare Sharing Ministries (HCSMs) allow members to pool their resources so health care costs are paid by other members. In addition to their lower costs, they are attractive to their mostly Christian members, because they don’t cover certain procedures, such as abortion, contraceptives, transgender surgery, and assisted suicide, which they may find morally objectionable. 

The plans, however, are not traditional insurance plans, and do not come with guarantee that health care costs will be covered.

“Consumers who bought these plans thinking they purchased comprehensive health insurance deserve the full protection of our laws,” said Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara. “Consumers should know they may be able to get comprehensive coverage through Covered California that will protect their health care rights.”

The approximately 11,000 Californians who have purchased health care coverage from Aliera Healthcare, Inc. or Trinity Healthshares, Inc. are advised to contact the state’s insurance office to apply for emergency coverage.

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