Regulators Allege Christian-Based Health Care Provider Broke State, Federal Rules

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Nearly men. one million Americans rely on health care sharing ministries to cover their medical bills members of these Christian organizations typically chip in money every month with the expectation that they will be reimbursed when they treatment but multiple state regulators have accused one company of violating federal and state requirements. New Hampshire public. Radio's todd awed. Buckman reports on the efforts to rein in one of those companies spread out on. Keith means kitchen counter. There's a mess unpaid bills with very large numbers. Eleven one thousand eight hundred eighty six for looks like an anesthesiologist. The surgeon eighteen thousand eight fifty four hospital. Stay hundred and fifty two thousand fourteen dollars. Sixty nine cents. Mehan is forty nine years old. DIVORCED DAD living in Rochester New Hampshire his job as an international. Rice salesman doesn't provide health insurance so last year a broker sold them on a company called L. era that markets what's known as a healthcare sharing ministry. It's not traditional. Oh health insurance clearly not Which I've I've come to find out? Meeting signed up a few months later. He had back surgery he says Lira. An entity at contracts contracts with called Trinity healthshare assured him. The procedure didn't need preapproval but afterwards it declined to pay close to two hundred thousand dollars in medical bills contending. His back pain was a pre existing condition. I feel like I was sold a bad bill of goods. You know just I had no idea. After receiving a wave of complaints claims from customers like me in New Hampshire's insurance department issued a cease and desist order last month against a Lira and Trinity for selling what the State calls illegal health insurance points earlier this year regulators in Texas Colorado and Washington also took action against a lira. The company declined an interview request but in a statement L.. Era Forcefully denied the allegations and says it will appeal. The New Hampshire cease and desist order other healthcare sharing groups say Elliot's actions are harming the reputation of the broader industry these ministries have seen rapid growth in recent years in part because of their lower cost. The cost was typically a fraction typically. Well under half and usually closer to a third of what the cost of conventional insurance was. This is Fenton Gruen and New Hampshire contractor. Who's been a member of a ministry great since the early nineteen nineties? He says along with the savings. Many Christians are drawn to ministries because they don't cover abortion services and offer perks like like prayer hotlines for their members grew and says he supports regulators stepping in to stop a company like a Lira. If it's violating the law given the explosive of growth of health care sharing ministries. It's not surprising to me that somebody would try to cut in on that investigation by the Houston Chronicle earlier. This year noted that the CO founder under Valera previously served time in prison for Securities Fraud the company is facing a proposed class action lawsuit in Washington State for alleged deceptive practices. Joanne Wind Volk with Georgetown Center. On health insurance reforms says some consumers are drawn to ministries because of the belief that they'll be better taken care of there's a lot of frustration with insurance companies and some of the hoops. You have to go through to get beer. Healthcare bills paid. And it feels like it's just another hoop but at least it's with people that share my beliefs Keith. Me The guy with two two hundred thousand dollars in unpaid medical bills says he wishes he had done his homework on Lira. I'm not trying to skate on my responsibilities. Had I known that this was way it it was gonNA turn out. I would have suffered. I can endorse some pain both physical and mental. But I would've never gone through with the surgery. More pain may be on the way I mean. Says he's considering filing for bankruptcy

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