Some 10,000 families are facing unpaid bills totaling over $50 million after a health care ministry they were a part of said they were shutting down.
According to Christianity Today, Sharity Ministries filed for bankruptcy and started the liquidation process in 2021.
Regulators said the organization operated as an unauthorized insurance provider. The organization has faced lawsuits and cease and desist orders.
In a recent lawsuit against the organization, the case alleges that Sharity denied the majority of claims and spent just 16 cents on premiums.
Previously, Sharity had pointed to Aliera, its vendor, for “acting in bad faith,” but in April 2021, the Sharity board voted to declare bankruptcy after learning that there were millions of dollars in unfilled requests.
“As a Christian, I felt it was not right to leave our members hanging out like that,” said former president and board member Joe Guarino. “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.”
Sharity began as “an affordable and effective faith-driven health care option for those who believe in individual responsibility, healthy living, and carrying one another’s medical burdens.” Members of the organization had to agree to a Christian faith commitment and agree to abstain from risky behaviors.
Court documents show the ministry could owe more than $300 million in unpaid member claims, exponentially increasing from the original $50 million.
Guarino, who resigned last year from the board, said he didn’t know how the unpaid amount jumped so high. Other board members declined to comment on the situation.
Meanwhile, Aliera was found guilty of fraud in another lawsuit in November 2021. That company has also filed for bankruptcy.
A liquidation trust has been set up for Sharity, and money will be distributed to members. Still, the New Hampshire Department of Insurance said in a statement that the “money recovered will likely be a fraction of the total.”
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.