Religious organizations where members help pay each other’s medical bills have grown from niche insurance alternatives to operations bringing in hundreds of millions of dollars, an increase that is also driving more consumer complaints and state scrutiny.
More than a million people have joined the groups, known as health-care sharing ministries, up from an estimated 200,000 before the Affordable Care Act, which granted members an exemption from the law’s penalty for not having health insurance. The organizations generally provide a health-care cost-sharing arrangement among people with similar religious beliefs, and their cost is often far lower than full health insurance.
Consumers typically pay a set monthly amount that goes into a general account or directly to others who have an eligible medical bill. They also submit their own eligible bills to be shared by other members.
As membership swells, more people have complained that their medical bills weren’t paid or were paid months late. Some states said they have seen an increase in complaints filed with regulators. More negative reviews have also appeared online.
— Anna Mathews (@annawmathews) June 10, 2019