Health policy scams studied

BY VALLERY BROWN Modified: March 8, 2010 at 4:22 am •  Published: March 8, 2010

Co
mplaints from Oklahomans reveal a pattern of the company paying out on smaller claims for routine visits and checkups and then denying larger claims, like in Hey’s case.

A Yukon man told The Oklahoman in December he was days away from getting a pacemaker when he learned ATA wasn’t paying on his claims. A husband of a cancer patient near Tulsa also found out his wife’s $10,000-per-week treatments wouldn’t be covered by ATA.

She died in December.

Officials in Nebraska, Tennessee, Washington, Indiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Massachusetts and Connecticut are among other states issuing warnings to consumers and orders banning ATA and its affiliated companies.

The Illinois Department of Insurance on Wednesday scheduled a public hearing about complaints and cease and desist orders issued there.

"These people are crooks and a cease and desist order is just a piece of paper to them,” Holland said. She said she wants to see company officials prosecuted.

It may go away
Holland said Insurance Department investigators started looking into the company last year. A cease and desist order was filed in November to prohibit the company from doing business here.

The company continued to solicit customers in the state, but complaints have slowed, Holland said. Her office in January levied about $75,000 in fines against ATA and two affiliated companies.

"We have people who have been really hurt by this situation,” she said. "We will press this until they go away.”

Regulators say information has been turned over to federal prosecutors in Tennessee to further investigate the company’s practices.

Calls to ATA’s office were not returned. On the company’s Web site, www.myatabenefits.com, there was a notice that it no longer was accepting members from Oklahoma, North Carolina, Indiana, Washington, Connecticut and Massachusetts. It also noted there were problems being worked out with some state insurance regulators but that benefits were still in place for customers. The Web site was taken down late last week.

Hey said shutting the company down completely isn’t enough.

"They’ve taken away more than money from people. They’ve stolen our peace of mind.”



Cease and desist

Individuals and companies alleged to be affiliated with or working for American Trade Association on state cease and desist orders:

→Real Benefits Association

→Smart Data Solutions

→Serve America Assurance

→Healthcare America

→Superior Healthcare

→Omni Healthcare

→Obed Kirkpatrick

→Bart Posey

→Beema-Pakistan Co.

More information
The state Insurance Department encourages all consumers to call and confirm any company or insurance agent offering insurance or insurance-like products are properly licensed to do business in Oklahoma. They can do this by calling the Oklahoma Insurance Department at (800) 522-0071 or by visiting www.oid.ok.gov.

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