Thursday, October 16, 2014

Consumer alert: Trade marketers banned from selling health care products

The federal government this week banned a trade association from selling health care-related products to consumers. The OIC issued a cease-and-desist order against the same group in 2012 for selling discount health plans in Washington without a license.

The Federal Trade Commission banned the Independent Association of Businesses (IAB) from selling any products that could be construed as health insurance or health care products to consumers. The group marketed its products as health insurance but consumers who purchased it were in fact enrolled in an IAB membership that included discounts on many services, including travel protection, identity theft protection and certain medical visits that were subject to broad exclusions and limitations.

IAB indicated to our investigators that it had sold 190 memberships to 161 Washington consumers as of September 2010 and it was still doing business at the time of our order in February 2012, even though it knew it wasn’t legal to do so. Consumers should be wary if they see marketing from IAB or any of its affiliated business names: International Association of Benefits, International Marketing Agency, Independent Association of Businesses, or IAB. You can report any activity from this marketer to the FTC’s online complaint center. If you have questions about health insurance, call our consumer experts at 1-800-562-6900 or visit us online.