Arkansas State Insurance Commissioner Mike Pickens announced that licenses were suspended for five insurance agents who reportedly enrolled Arkansans in a health plan not authorized in the State of Arkansas. The unauthorized plan has left Arkansas consumers with more than a quarter million dollars in unpaid medical claims.
TRG Marketing LLC, the company reportedly offering the illegal health plan sold by the agents, last year was ordered by the State Insurance Commissioner to cease and desist selling the plan in the State of Arkansas. The plan, an unauthorized multiple employer welfare arrangement (MEWA), had claimed its health plan was a single employer plan set pursuant to the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and was thereby exempt from state regulation. That assertion was determined to be untrue, according to the final cease and desist order issued to TRG.
Those Arkansas agents, whose license have been suspended for allegedly enrolling Arkansas consumers into TRG’s illegal plan and for failing to respond to inquires from the Department are Helen Marie Markovich; John Anthony Markovich; and Cassondra Ann Kimble, all of Pocahontas; Stephen Matthew Avery of Siloam Springs; and Billy Dean Mullins who listed with the Arkansas Insurance Department addresses in both Vilonia and Conway.
While the license for each of those agents has been suspended, the Insurance Department seeks to revoke the agents’ license, according to the suspension orders.
The Insurance Department issued last year, through a campaign called Check Before You Select!, warnings to Arkansas consumers about the operations of illegal health plans within the State. The campaign was designed to encourage consumers to check out a company before purchasing a health plan. “We want to encourage consumers to check out the company attempting to sell a ‘bargain’ health plan,” Pickens said. “Consumers should make sure a company is legitimate and licensed to sell those products in the State of Arkansas.”
Since that time, law has been enacted during the 2003 Arkansas General Assembly to address the sale and operation of unauthorized health care benefits within the State. According to provisions in Act 516 of 2003, any person or entity that knowingly represents or aids in the negotiation of an unauthorized product shall be guilty of a Class D felony. Additionally, those individuals or entities could be held personally liable for all damages caused by those acts including claims not paid by the unauthorized individual/entity.
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