Close to 10,000 families who shared in one another’s medical expenses to “fulfill the law of Christ” are now facing unpaid medical bills totaling over $50 million after the shuttering of a health care sharing ministry, Christianity Today reports.
Sharity Ministries, formerly known as Trinity HealthShare, filed for bankruptcy and then started the liquidation process last year. There are so many outstanding claims that it’s unlikely that members will receive the reimbursements they’re owed.
The organization had faced challenges, class-action lawsuits, and cease and desist orders in several states, where regulators said it had been operating as an unauthorized insurance provider. A 2022 lawsuit from the state of California alleges Sharity denied the majority of claims and spent as little as 16 cents on premiums. Even the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries called Sharity a “sham front group” for the for-profit health care management company Aliera.
Sharity had about 40,000 households in its network, but membership began to decline thanks to unfulfilled requests and lawsuits. In April of 2021, the Sharity board voted unanimously to pursue a reorganization bankruptcy. Ultimately, the board voted to liquidate the entire organization instead.
Former Sharity president and board member Joe Guarino was the only member of the board who abstained from voting.
“As a Christian, I felt it was not right to leave our members hanging out like that,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many times since then I have sobbed about all those tens of thousands of families who are without the means to pay their medical bills. For many of them, I’m sure it destroyed their lives.”
Guarino, who resigned in August 2021, said he had no idea how the amount of unpaid requests went up six times from the original $50 million that the board knew about months earlier. The other four board members could not be reached or declined to comment.
Read the full report over at Christianity Today.