KHOU 11 Investigates reviewed nearly 200 complaints from consumers who claimed that Jericho Share took their money but left them with little or no coverage.
HOUSTON — They thought they were buying health insurance, but what they got was no insurance at all.
Nearly 200 consumers have filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau and the Texas Attorney General’s Office, claiming that a faith-based Houston business took their money, but left them with little to no coverage and numerous medical bills. unpaid.
Complaints from across the country share a similar pattern: consumers searched online, entered their information, and then received a call offering them an affordable plan.
“They said it was a multi-plan PPO,” Melissa Boldi said.
“Everything was covered for this extremely low rate,” added Caitlin Hurst.
“He said it was in the same network as United Healthcare,” Cynthia Woods said.
They signed up thinking it was full coverage only to receive a card in the mail saying ‘this is not insurance’. It was from a company they said was never mentioned in those initial calls – Jericho Share.
Jericho Share’s website lists an address at a UPS store on Westheimer Road in West Houston. Business records show that since last September he has been affiliated with the House of Prayer and Life Church of Houston, a metal warehouse-style building on Davidson Street on the northeast side of the city.
The arrangement is known as the Health Care Shared Ministry. Members who share religious or ethical beliefs contribute to a fund which is used to cover or share the medical expenses of other members. But shared health care ministries are not regulated like traditional health plans under the Affordable Care Act and there are no guarantees of coverage or legal obligations to pay claims.
Boldi learned this the hard way after a trip to the ER.
“I received a bill from the hospital that was over $1,000,” she said. “And I called that company and said ‘why isn’t this all covered? He says you haven’t covered anything,” and they were like, “well, you don’t have hospital coverage,” Boldi said.
Hurst, who is a small business owner, said she was responsible for nearly $20,000 in medical bills that Jericho Share failed to pay.
“I thought I was covered. I was told I was covered and I wasn’t,” Hurst said. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m kind of at a point where I may have to file for bankruptcy,” she said.
She and many other consumers complained to the BBB, trying to get a resolution.
“Over 150 complaints in the last year alone, so that’s a very high number of complaints,” said Leah Napoliello, vice president of operations for the Houston BBB.
Napoliello said that while health care sharing ministries are legal, it’s how they’re marketed that can cross the line.
“It appears to be third-party marketers contacting these people over the phone, leading them to believe it’s health insurance when it really isn’t health insurance,” Napoliello said. “It’s a huge problem.”
At least two states confirm they are investigating Jericho Share, the Texas Department of Insurance and the New Hampshire Department of Insurance, which filed a notice claiming it “acts as an unauthorized insurance company.”
A Jericho Share spokesperson said the company is cooperating with authorities and “does not tolerate misrepresentation and ensures that we communicate openly and transparently with members.”
The company said it had redesigned its website to make it clear that it was not a health insurance company and had moved away from most outside sales centers. The company added that it gives refunds to any new member who requests them within 30 days of signing up.
But for former members, Napoliello said it has been difficult and time-consuming to get refunds of premiums paid or to cancel memberships.
For James and Cynthia Woods, their fight to recoup over $800 took months, and they still haven’t seen a dime.
“They don’t have to be in business, regardless of the type of business,” James Woods said.
KHOU 11 Investigates also questioned the House of Prayer and Life about these allegations. Pastor Yoshika Berroud said she was not aware of consumer complaints and would not comment on her church’s financial relationship with Jericho Share.
The BBB advises anyone looking for health insurance to ensure they visit the official government website for the health insurance market. Other search engine returns may link consumers to advertisements and third-party marketing companies.
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