New York State accused a major Christian group on Tuesday of deceiving customers by illegally offering health insurance to as many as 40,000 residents since 2016.
The state filed civil charges against Trinity Healthshare, the Christian group, and Aliera, a for-profit company that markets the plans.
The state insurance regulators’ complaint included a list of charges, which said Trinity and Aliera “aggressively marketed and sold their products to consumers in the health insurance marketplace, preying on people who were uninsured and deceiving consumers into paying hundreds of dollars per month for what they were led to believe was comprehensive health coverage.”
New York regulators said patients were often left with thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills. A woman with leukemia was denied coverage for an emergency hospital stay that cost thousands of dollars because she was told she had a pre-existing condition. Aliera denied a $15,000 claim for breast cancer treatment, according to regulators, while another patient said even routine doctor’s visits were not covered by Trinity.
State officials said the cases of financial hardship were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, which has spawned high unemployment and resulted in the loss of health insurance for millions of Americans.
“New Yorkers should not have to worry whether a trip to a medical professional could lead them to bankruptcy, a factor that has been compounded by this unprecedented global health crisis,” Linda A. Lacewell, the state’s superintendent of financial services, said in a statement.
The state said it would seek civil penalties and other relief on behalf of consumers, and had issued a cease-and-desist letter in April