As health insurance premiums have risen at double-digit rates in recent years, employers and individuals who have sought to purchase more affordable coverage have fallen prey to certain entities that may offer attractively priced premiums but do not fulfill the expectations of those buying health insurance. These unauthorized entities--also known as bogus entities or scams--may not meet the financial and benefit requirements typically associated with health insurance products or other arrangements that are authorized, licensed, and regulated by the states. This testimony is based on GAO's recent report Private Health Insurance: Employers and Individuals Are Vulnerable to Unauthorized or Bogus Entities Selling Coverage, GAO-04-312 (Feb. 27, 2004). In this testimony, GAO was asked to identify the number of entities that operated from 2000 through 2002 and the number of employers and policyholders affected, approaches and characteristics of these entities' operations, and the actions federal and state governments took against these entities. GAO analyzed information obtained from the Department of Labor (DOL) and from a survey of insurance departments in the states; interviewed officials at DOL and at insurance departments in Colorado, Florida, Georgia, and Texas; and examined the operations of one of the largest entities--Employers Mutual, LLC.
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