A Texas company must cease selling health care coverage plans in Washington because it does not qualify for a religious-based exemption, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said Tuesday.
The cease-and-desist letter to OneShare Health is the latest in a string of enforcement actions Kreidler has taken against companies billing themselves as “health care sharing ministries.”
Such companies are exempt from some federal requirements for offering health insurance, but must meet certain faith-based criteria that Kreidler’s office argues OneShare does not satisfy. That includes being in existence before Dec. 31, 1999, conducting regular audits and including only members adhering to a specific set of religious beliefs.
Kreidler had previously taken action against a firm called Aliera, which marketed health coverage plans for a company called Trinity Healthshare in Washington state. Trinity last year agreed to pay a $150,000 fine after Kreidler’s office accused it of flouting state and federal laws regulating the ministries. Aliera has requested a hearing with the state later this year and denies wrongdoing.
OneShare, a firm based in Irving, Texas, released a statement late Wednesday saying that they were “surprised” by the commissioner’s findings and that they disagreed with his opinion, but would cooperate with the office in the coming months. The company had previously been affiliated with Aleira but terminated a contract in August 2018.
Kreidler’s office said more than 1,000 Washington residents have health coverage plans with OneShare and have paid a total of $1.2 million to the company. Those with plans through OneShare are eligible to seek health coverage from the state’s health care exchange during a special enrollment period.
The exchange has already extended a special enrollment period through May 8 for residents seeking coverage during the coronavirus outbreak.
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