If you live in a state that requires health care insurance, it's important to to recognize valid health insurance plans. Last month, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced a settlement which stopped several companies from operating a telemarketing scam offering bogus health insurance. The settlement included Health Care One and its affiliate companies:
The suit named Michael Jay Ellman, the managing member of Health Care One and the sole director of Americans4Healthcare, and Robert Daniel Freeman, the president, secretary, treasurer, and owner of Elite Business Solutions. In its 2010 lawsuit (Adobe PDF) the FTC alleged:
"Since 2006, Health Care One has been a seller and marketer of a “national healthcare discount program” which masquerades as health insurance and promises to save consumers money on their healthcare costs. Enrollment is offered at various price points, ranging from $79.95 to $99.95 per month, with a one-time enrollment fee typically around $100. Health Care One markets this program through television and radio commercials... Defendants have made numerous material misrepresentations to consumers... These misrepresentations can be grouped into five categories: a. that the program offered is health insurance; b. that the program is affiliated with, or endorsed or sponsored by, the federal government; c. that enrollment in the program will result in substantial healthcare savings to the consumer; d. that the consumer will be able to obtain program benefits from the consumer’s current healthcare providers and from other healthcare providers in the consumer’s local community; and e. that Health Care One and Elite Business Solutions will refund the money the consumer has paid to enroll in the program if the consumer submits a cancellation request before the thirty-day trial period expires."
The settlement agreement prohibits the defendants from violating the Telemarketing Sales Rule, requires them to return ill-gotten profits, and prohibits them from:
"... making misrepresentations in connection with the sale of any good or service, including falsely representing: that a program is insurance; affiliation with, or endorsement or sponsorship by, the federal government; that purchase of a good or service will result in substantial savings to consumers; any material aspect of the good or service; the total costs associated with the good or service; and any material refund and cancellation policies, including, but not limited to, the likelihood of a consumer obtaining a full or partial refund..."
In 2010, The FTC began a crackdown, along with several state attorney generals and insurance commissioners, on companies misrepresenting "medical discount plans" as health insurance plans. Consumers seeking low-cost health insurance had been tricked into buy the medical discount plans, which typically were not health insurance, weren't accepted by many doctors, and didn't cover many procedures nor devices. The companies had targeted consumers without health insurance.
A check of the current Health Care One website now finds this disclaimer near the page bottom:
"HealthCareOne is not health insurance and is not intended to replace insurance."