Sick health plan sticks desperate victims with large medical bills

Promises full benefits, bilks 17,000 consumers with fake health coverage

Oklahoma real-estate agent Bob Harper was desperate. His heart was failing. He was just days from having his heart pacemaker implanted, only to discover his health policy was worthless.

A Houston man had emergency back surgery, and his health plan refused to pay his $105,000 bill.

They were among more than 17,000 luckless Americans who Bart Posey duped into buying fake health coverage in a $22-million theft binge. The Springfield, Tenn. man’s heart-breaking scam is a consumer warning to avoid discount health deals that seem too perfect to be real.

Posey ran two bogus plans — American Trade Association and Smart Data Solutions.

Cold-callers, fax blasts and a slick website went after consumers. Scammers hawked seemingly low-priced plans that promised full-benefit coverage.

The sales pitches seemed a godsend. Health premiums were rising around the U.S. Posey promised an unbeatable deal. People quickly bought in.

Plans were empty promises

Posey raked in monthly premiums. Yet his health plans were just pieces of paper, empty promises.

People would call in crying. But we were instructed to tell them that their claims were ‘in process’ and to call back in 30 days. We were told to flat-out lie to people just to get them off the phone,” a phone reps admitted.

South Carolina resident Beth Wicker suffered a stroke and went to the hospital, only to discover her coverage was bogus. She owed $17,000 in medical bills and had no health insurance.

A New Jersey man began chemotherapy, only to have his doctor tell him his ATA coverage was fake. He had to file for charity care with his hospital.

Many victims were Hispanics and Asian, and could barely speak English. Some were dying of cancer and couldn’t get their treatment bills paid.

Posey was handed 14 years in federal prison on November 20.

Fake plan steals $100 million

Fake health plans have a long and sorry history. Simple Health Plans, for instance, stole more than $100 million from consumers around the U.S., federal officials say. The Florida outfit was shut down in November 2018.

Victims were stuck with large and unpaid medical bills. People thought they had a full-benefit health plan that covered preexisting conditions. Bogus sales pitches left victims virtually uninsured, the Federal Trade Commission says.

Consumers, watch for these warning signals. The plan’s deceptive websites claimed to:

  • Provide comprehensive health insurance.
  • Sell federal health insurance such as Medicare and the Affordable Care Act.
  • Be affiliated with AARP and private insurers such as Blue Cross Blue Shield.
  • deceptively offered “Health Insurance for Smart People” from “the Nation’s Leading Carriers” at “Low Affordable Premiums” with “Prescription Drug Coverage.”
  • promoted “Medicare Health Plans for Your Needs and Budget.”

Prosecutors had the last word in Posey’s scam. “To listen to the accounts of the life-altering consequences for so many people is truly heart- wrenching and drives our prosecutors to seek justice on their behalf,” U.S. Attorney Don Cochran said.