CHARLOTTE — Paula Lohwasser said she was diagnosed with cancer in 2019.
She said she belonged to the healthcare sharing ministry, Aliera, but that the organization wouldn’t pay all of her bills.
“You have insurance, for me anyway, for catastrophes, right? For things that you know that would bankrupt you. And I expected Aliera to at least help me with that,” she said.
Healthcare sharing ministries aren’t insurance.
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Lohwasser said the cancer went away, but that her bills didn’t. She said she owes around $67,000 and that, even worse, a collection agency came calling.
“I’ve never not paid my bills. I’ve never been turned over to a collection agency. It crushed me,” she told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke.
Stoogenke first reported on Aliera in 2019. Some members said the ministry was misleading consumers.
A group of them ended up suing in several states and many government agencies went after the ministry as well.
Fast-forward to July of this year. Aliera — or more accurately, its related entity, Sharity — filed bankruptcy.
Usually, customers would be at the bottom of the list and have little hope of getting any money back. But the members’ lawyers told Stoogenke that Sharity didn’t have many other creditors, so members are at the top of the list. So, if money is still available, members may actually get it back. They said that as many as 60,000 people are caught in the middle.
“I just want somebody to be fair with me. That’s all I guess I’m asking,” Lohwasser said.
[ ALSO READ: Healthcare sharing ministry accused of misleading customers comes under fire ]
In August, the members’ lawyers emailed people how much they think Sharity owes them, either the amount they paid the ministry or their uncovered medical bills, whichever is greater.
If you think that dollar figure is accurate, you don’t have to do anything.
If you think it’s wrong, you can correct the amount, but you have to do so by Jan. 4.
You can file a corrected claim here. If you have questions, you can contact BMC Group Inc. by phone at 888-909-0100 or by email at email@example.com.
“At least it gives me something to hold onto and to pray over, I guess,” Lohwasser said.
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