WASHINGTON — Katy Talento, executive director of Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries (The Alliance, ahcsm.org), recently released a statement regarding the unfortunate incident involving Medical Cost Sharing, Inc. in Missouri:

“The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries condemns every instance of fraud and misrepresentation carried out in the name of Christ and is particularly outraged by such behavior among those pretending to be Health Care Sharing Ministries,” said Talento. “An organization named Medical Cost Sharing, Inc. has recently been shut down by federal authorities for allegedly trying to trick Christians into handing over money to what they thought was a legitimate faith-based ministry that would help them share medical expenses with other believers. This organization was never recognized under the federal definition of a Health Care Sharing Ministry, it was never a member of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, and was never accredited nor did it ever apply for accreditation by the Health Care Sharing Accreditation Board.

“Health Care Sharing Ministries are federally-recognized, tax exempt (c)(3) charities whose members have a longstanding history of faithfully sharing one another’s medical expenses. They are transparent with their members every single month about how much money has been shared between the membership and how much the organization has used for overhead expenses. They are audited annually using Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and they make their audits publicly available either by request or posted on their websites. Ministries who are members of the Alliance meet these minimum standards. Governing members have further either been accredited by the independent, third-party Health Care Sharing Accreditation Board or have committed to do so within the next year.

 “The state of Missouri, where Medical Cost Sharing was headquartered, defines Health Care Sharing Ministries for the purpose of recognizing that they are regulated as charities by the Attorney General. If federal allegations are true, the organization would have failed to meet this statutory definition in a number of ways. The Alliance strongly supports Missouri’s law as an important differentiator between legitimate Health Care Sharing Ministries and bad actors.

 “The Alliance urges anyone considering joining a Health Care Sharing Ministry to ask that ministry the following questions (including documentation supporting their answers): 

  • Have you applied for or received accreditation from the Healthcare Sharing Accreditation Board?
  • Do you have a certification letter from the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recognizing that the ministry meets the ACA definition of a Health Care Sharing Ministry?
  • Are you a governing member of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries? (Medi-Share, Samaritan Ministries, OneShare Health, Altrua Healthshare)
  • Do you have a letter from the IRS recognizing you as a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt charity organization?
  • Are your annual, audited financial statements publicly available?
  • Do you provide monthly reports to your members disclosing the amount of member medical expenses shared by your members?”

Founded in 2007 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries is a 501(c)(6) trade organization representing the common interests of Health Care Sharing Ministry organizations which are facilitating the sharing of health care needs (financial, emotional, and spiritual) by individuals and families, and their participants. The Alliance engages with federal and state regulators, members of the media, and the Christian community to provide accurate and timely information on medical cost sharing.

To learn more about the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, visit www.ahcsm.org or follow the ministry on Facebook or Twitter.

To interview a representative from The Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Beth Harrison, 610.584.1096, ext. 105, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.