Pennsylvania’s Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman said the state has managed to acquire nearly $80,000 in restitution for residents who were customers of Aliera HealthCare.
The state also obtained a $20,000 civil penalty stemming from an investigation into the company’s improper insurance practices.
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department initiated an investigation into Aliera HealthCare in 2019 following complaints from consumers who had unpaid medical bills despite having “coverage” through Aliera. Consumers also alleged Aliera engaged in misleading and deceptive business practices.
Aliera offered what is known as health care sharing ministries, which are not insurance products, but instead are voluntary arrangements in which members who share a common set of religious beliefs share the financial cost of medical bills with other members of that religious community.
The state’s investigation determined that Aliera does not meet the requirements established in The Insurance Department Act of 1921, which lists the criteria for religious sharing ministries and publications and that Aliera violated the state’s insurance laws.
Aliera has entered into a Consent Order with the department, agreeing to cease and desist from engaging in activities related to health care sharing ministries and to pay restitution totaling $79,785.49 to the 95 Pennsylvania members where administrative fees were improperly collected. It must also pay a $20,000 civil penalty.
“Shopping for health insurance can be stressful enough, without having to worry about whether the company you are purchasing coverage with is deceptively selling a product that is not insurance,” said Altman. “Legitimate Pennsylvania insurance companies have strict standards and regulations that they must follow. The department will not stand for misleading and deceiving consumers, and we are committed to rooting out entities in the insurance industry that flout our rules.”
Aliera HealthCare stopped offering its health care sharing ministry memberships in the state in December 2019.