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Misled consumers fight back against “junk” health plans

On February 2, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel shined a light on an insurance company’s shady sales practices that allegedly defrauded hundreds of thousands.

“What you see is what you get” wasn’t the case for more than 200,000 consumers who thought they were scoring good deals on decent health insurance plans. Burned by a deceptive marketing scheme, a group of these consumers have joined a class-action lawsuit against the plans’ distributor, Health Insurance Innovations Inc.

The plaintiffs contend that they didn’t get what they paid for—namely, plans that were Affordable Care Act-compliant. Instead, they’d been sold limited-coverage plans that left some of them in dire financial circumstances, having unwittingly incurred tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

The suit claims that distributor Health Insurance Innovations Inc. developed the essentially worthless plans and then bankrolled the sales operations of Simple Health Plans, a marketer that sold the plans to customers. Oh, and all while pocketing almost $150 million during its five-year run.

Since unscrupulous insurers can be master manipulators of the legal system, it’s not surprising that an under-the-radar outfit like Health Insurance Innovations Inc. might feel emboldened to pull a fast one. What’s more surprising is that highly visible, top-tier healthcare players feel just as entitled to play fast and loose with their customers’ care, in full view of the eyes of the law. We’re looking at you—again—UnitedHealthcare…

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