Health Care Sharing Ministries To Challenge N.H. Cease And Desist Order
Two health care entities ordered to stop doing business in the state will get to appeal that decision during a public hearing in December.
In October, the N.H. Insurance Department issued a cease and desist order against Aliera Healthcare and Trinity HealthShare, two Georgia-based entities that partner to offer and market a health care sharing ministry.
Members of health care sharing ministries, which are an alternative to insurance, pledge to uphold religious values and pay monthly premiums with the expectation that the money will be shared when a medical bill arises. There is no guarantee that ministries will cover any incurred expenses.
After receiving more than three dozen complaints from consumers, New Hampshire became the latest state to take regulatory action against Aliera and Trinity. The agency accuses the entities of violating state requirements, including that they weren’t formed before December 31, 1999 as required by law, that they failed to limit membership to individuals who share ethical or religious beliefs, and that they offered group plans.
The companies, however, argue the agency is misapplying its own statute, and that it is prepared to dispute the cease and desist order in a public hearing.
In a letter to the Insurance Department, lawyers for Trinity say that despite the company being created in June 2018 - well after the 1999 cut-off date - the IRS “determined that Trinity is a HCSM” and that New Hampshire must honor that exemption.
Lawyers for Aliera filed a separate hearing request, laying out its arguments in a 20-page document. It contends that the Insurance Department violated its own protocol by not holding a hearing before issuing the cease and desist order, and that Trinity’s founding principles clearly spell out its religious beliefs.
It also maintains that Trinity’s ministry is “derived from the long-standing--much prior to 1999--Anabaptist tradition and ministries.”
The Insurance Department has scheduled a pre-hearing conference on December 17th, and a formal hearing on December 30th in front of a department hearing officer.
Approximately 1,400 New Hampshire residents are enrolled in Trinity’s ministry. The Insurance Department has said those customers need to purchase new coverage during the open enrollment window, which runs through December 15th. Neither Trinity or Aliera, according to the Insurance Department, have sent notifications to those customers advising them of the cease and desist order.