The Minnesota Department of Commerce has assigned a civil penalty of $50,000 and issued a cease and desist order to eHealthInsurance Services, Inc., a California-based health insurance agency that mailed more than 600,000 misleading letters to elderly Minnesotans.
eHealthInsurance Services, an agency based in Gold River, Calif., purchased the domain name “Medicare.com” and, using that name, mailed more than 600,000 letters to Minnesotans warning about the discontinuation of certain Medicare plans and offering services to obtain a new plan. The company prominently branded the letters and their website with “Medicare.com” and failed to include a sufficiently noticeable statement that it was not, in any manner, connected with the government, Medicare or Medicaid.
“Our investigators acted swiftly to bring a stop to the misleading marketing materials from eHealthInsurance,” said Steve Kelley, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce. “We began the investigation upon receiving calls from concerned Minnesotans, and we are grateful for their vigilance and quick action in alerting us to the situation.”
Jesica Conrad, a retired registered nurse living in Bemidji, was one Minnesotan who reached out to the Department of Commerce after receiving several mailers from “Medicare.com.” The letters were addressed to her father, who passed away several years ago.
“I knew immediately that the mailers were designed to be misleading, so I contacted the Department of Commerce,” said Conrad. “I was very pleased to learn that the Department was able to stop these nefarious attempts to solicit business, fine the company and most importantly, protect vulnerable Minnesotans.”
“If you receive a suspicious letter, email, phone call or other correspondence that concerns you, please reach out to the Department of Commerce,” said Kelley. “We are here to help.” Minnesotans are encouraged to contact the Department of Commerce’s Consumer Services Center with concerns or questions at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602 (Greater Minnesota) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pursuant to Minn. State. Ch. 45 (2018) eHealthInsurance Services has been ordered to pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the State of Minnesota; cease and desist from conduct violating Minn. Stat. Ch. 60k and 72A and Minn. Administrative Rules Chapter 2790; identify the specific insurer or insurers that will issue coverage or reference that it sells insurance offered by a number of different Medicare insurance companies on all applicable advertisements to Minnesota residents; edit its website to include a sufficiently prominent statement that it is connected to eHealth and that eHealth is an insurance agency; and pay all investigative costs incurred by the Department of Commerce.