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Anthem, United Health Care Settle Broker Fee Allegations with Ohio Dept.

May 22, 2006

Two health insurance companies have signed agreements with the Ohio to settle allegations that they improperly paid insurance brokers who were working for taxpayer-funded agencies.

United Healthcare of Ohio and Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield had been accused of giving commissions to agents who also were contracted by public agencies to find them the best deal.

United Healthcare has agreed to pay a $125,000 penalty and $50,000 in administrative costs to the state Department of Insurance, and Anthem has agreed to pay a penalty of $25,000 and $5,000 in administrative costs, department spokesman Robert Denhard said.

The agreements, reached earlier this year, were announced Wednesday by Insurance Director Ann Womer Benjamin. They are part of an ongoing Department of Insurance investigation that began in 2004.

Both the Mason-based Anthem and United Healthcare, based in Minneapolis, have agreed to establish policies aimed at complying with state regulations regarding the compensation of agents. Neither company admits guilt in the settlements.

United Healthcare spokeswoman Debora Spano said the company already has implemented new policies. Anthem spokesman Chip Palazzo said the payment Anthem agreed to is not a fine and that the settlement specifies that Anthem may not have known about contractual arrangements between brokers and public agencies.

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