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Unlicensed health insurers plague Hawaii

Hawaii HealthCare Alliance, SAI Plus Health Insurance, and TRG Marketing Plan, the list reads like a who's who of bad boys accused of selling bogus health insurance plans. They are just some of the unlicensed health insurers that have cropped up in Hawaii and in many other states, preying on consumers' pocketbooks and saddling them with unpaid claims. (Read How to spot an unlicensed insurer.)

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As soon as one unlicensed insurer is shut down, it seems another one is waiting in the wings. Hawaii Insurance Commissioner Wayne Metcalf has warned former customers of defunct health insurer TRG Marketing that are now being targeted by direct mail by another unauthorized health plan.

The unlicensed plan is being offered under various names, including Consumer Health Education Association (CHEA), based in El Cajon, Calif.; STAT-CARE, also of El Cajon; EOS Health LLC of Tempe, Ariz.; Benefits Group Inc. of Everett, Wash.; and Peak Benefits Group Inc. of Henderson, Nev.

"I strongly recommend that [consumers] reject this offer," says Metcalf. "As they saying goes: 'If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.'"

The CHEA plan is the latest unauthorized health insurance plan being marketed to Hawaii residents. TRG Marketing voluntarily shut down its Hawaii operations in November 2001 after state regulators found the company was selling insurance illegally. In 2000, state insurance regulators seized the Hawaii HealthCare Alliance, another unauthorized health insurer targeting small Hawaii businesses and the self-employed.

Consumers can find a list of properly authorized insurers in Hawaii by visiting the Hawaii Insurance Department's Web site.

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