HELENA – Commissioner of Securities and Insurance Monica J. Lindeen has announced a settlement with the National Better Living Association and several of its affiliated companies that will relieve Montana victims of more than $170,000 in medical debt that amassed as a result of the company’s allegedly illegal marketing of health insurance policies.
In legal documents filed by the Commissioner’s office last year, the Commissioner’s investigators alleged the National Better Living Association purchased cheap insurance policies with limited coverage and hired high-pressure telemarketers to sell the policies as if they were major medical insurance.
Montanans who were roped into the scam told investigators that telemarketers promised the insurance would provide full coverage for all preexisting conditions. According to one victim, telemarketers said the policy was an “Obamacare” plan, alluding to the federal health care reform law. The law, however, doesn’t prohibit exclusions for preexisting conditions until 2014.
Investigators believe the telemarketers obtained phone numbers and other personal information from victims through fake “get-a-quote” websites that claim to compare health insurance products and recommend the most affordable options. In reality, information submitted on these websites was used to target individuals and families with the greatest need for major medical insurance.
Most victims didn’t realize how little coverage they had until after they had undergone a costly medical procedure.
and filed a claim for reimbursement. As a result, many victims were left with tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt they couldn’t pay.
“We buy health insurance so that when disaster strikes, we don’t have to face the financial burden alone,” said Lindeen. “But people who think they’ve found an inexpensive option through association scams often don’t realize how alone they are until it’s too late.”
Allied Health Benefits Inc., a company affiliated with the National Better Living Association, agreed to pay $25,000 as a result of the settlement. The National Better Living Association agreed to stop selling its products in Montana. One of the telemarketer “call centers,” PSI/Health Leads System Inc., settled with the commissioner, paid a $15,000 fine and agreed to cease doing business in Montana. Two of the insurance companies who backed the policies sold in Montana, the U.S. Life Health Insurance Company and the National Union Fire Insurance Co., agreed to settle more than $170,000 in medical debt accrued by Montana victims. Additional penalties for companies involved in the sale of the National Better Living Association’s products in Montana, including the telemarketers, are expected in the coming months.