Friday, May 14, 2010

A bit of construction work ahead...

We'll be working on the blog template today. Stay tuned.

WA insurance commissioner orders Nevada company to stop selling illegal health insurance products in Washington

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has ordered a Nevada company and the individuals behind it to stop selling illegal health insurance products to Washingtonians.

The order names Pinnacle Health Solutions, LLC, also known as Pinnacle Health Care, and company managers James Parish, Nicholas Wall and “Michael Schultz.” (Schultz is believed to be a pseudonym.)

They previously marketed health insurance products from the American Trade Association, which was named in an earlier order. Since then, the company and these men have continued to advertise and sell other unauthorized health insurance and unlicensed health care discount cards in Washington.

Kreidler on Thursday issued a cease and desist order against the company and the three men, ordering them to stop “engaging in or transacting the unauthorized business of insurance or unlicensed discount plans in the state of Washington.” They are barred from collecting premiums or fees, and cannot advertise or sell such products.

They must also:

• Provide Kreidler’s office with a list of all Washingtonians who have purchased their products.

• Inform all Washington customers about the order.

• And, upon request by any policyholder, replace any illegal coverage with a policy from an authorized insurer.

Washington state insurance investigators have seen a recurring pattern in which companies banned from doing illegal business in the state have attempted to shift their customers to other groups which are also peddling unauthorized insurance products. In a recent letter to an American Trade Association customer, for example, Pinnacle said that benefits were being shifted to a new entity: Best Benefits Association.

Best Benefits Association is also not authorized to sell insurance products in Washington.

Any Washington resident contacted by Pinnacle, Best Benefits Association, or any American Trade Association marketer is encouraged to contact the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner at 1-800-562-6900.

Vancouver-based Cascade Auto Glass fined for overbilling

A Washington auto glass company has pleaded guilty to attempted insurance fraud after charging insurers more for repairs billed from a non-existent office.

Cascade Auto Glass, apparently headquartered in Vancouver, will pay a $1,000 fine, $500 victim penalty assessment and $200 in court costs. Cascade, as a corporation, pleaded guilty to one count of attempted fallse claims or proof in an insurance claim, a gross misdemeanor.

The state insurance commissioner’s Special Investigations Unit found multiple cases of overbilling by the company.

Some insurance companies pay auto glass claims at different rates, depending on where the shop is located. Rural windshield replacements, for example, are typically paid at a higher rate due to higher transportation costs compared to urban shops.
Cascade offers a mobile windshield replacement service and generally goes to customers homes, workplaces or schools. The investigation found that the company repeatedly did work in large urban areas, but billed insurers as if the work was done from the rural Port Townsend area.

The company’s Port Townsend location consists of a storage unit. Cascade does not use that location to conduct their business.

Washington health care authority launches its health insurance program

Washington state's Health Care Authority has launched its "Washington Health Program," which offers relatively low cost, basic health coverage -- albeit with a very low annual maximum compared to comprehensive coverage.

From HCA's web page:
This unique program offers either $75,000 or $100,000 in health insurance coverage every year. Members maintain low deductibles and, at times, no-cost coverage for basic health services. This provides coverage for those unexpected trips to the hospital. In most cases, $75,000 or $100,000 is plenty of coverage throughout the year.
You can estimate your premium here.

See here for more details about the program.