UnitedHealth Pays $250K Penalty in Vermont Over Alleged Improper Ads

UnitedHealth Insurance Company has paid a $250,000 penalty in Vermont this month to resolve charges brought by financial regulators.

The Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care Administration (BISHCA) imposed the penalty on UnitedHealth as part of a negotiated resolution of administrative charges that alleged improper advertising practices by the insurer.

Regulators said that during the fall of 2011, United circulated and published advertisements in Vermont, using television, newspaper, and direct mailings. Several advertisements referred to Medicare Supplemental coverage.

Following an investigation, BISHCA filed administrative charges against United last December, alleging that the insurer failed to file certain advertising materials referencing Medicare Supplemental coverage with the commissioner for approval as required by Vermont law.

BISHCA also asserted that certain advertising materials were “deceptive and misleading.” “We were especially concerned when it appeared that United continued some of its advertising practices even after we had called attention to their noncompliance,” stated Susan Donegan, BISHCA deputy commissioner of insurance.

“The size of the penalty imposed on United is intended to express BISHCA’s concern with United’s alleged behavior,” said BISHCA Commissioner Steve Kimbell. “We are going to make sure that every insurance company advertising in this state follows the rules we have in place to protect consumers.”

United is licensed to conduct insurance business in Vermont and is a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, the largest provider of health insurance in the United States.

Source: State of Vermont Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities & Health Care Administration