main menu page title feature menus content footer
My Florida C F O

CFO's Initiatives

Stay Connected

Follow the
Department of
Financial Services

Sign up for the CFO's
weekly newsletter!

Press Release

News   RSS RSS   Press Office   Archive

Ceo of Unlicensed Health Insurer Charged with Fraud

5/22/2002

TALLAHASSEE - The chief organizer of a Pennsylvania organization that sold bogus health insurance to thousands of Floridians is facing two felony counts of communications fraud, Florida Treasurer and Insurance Commissioner Tom Gallagher announced today. The case, based on transactions that occurred in Palm Beach, Dade and Broward counties, will be prosecuted by Melanie Ann Hines, Office of Statewide Prosecution.

N.A.P.T. Chief Executive Officer David Andrew Weinstein, 43, of Cherry Hill, N.J., surrendered today to Florida Department of Insurance fraud investigators. Gallagher shut down N.A.P.T. in March 2001 for operating without an insurance license. The defunct company is now in receivership in Florida.

Weinstein is the third executive of an unauthorized health insurance entity to be charged criminally in Florida. In February 2001, Miami-based Well America's president and chief executive officer Geoffrey Alexander Cole Sr. and senior vice-president and chief operations officer Vivian Visser Lehman were arrested on charges of transacting insurance without a license, a third-degree felony. Those cases are still pending.

"Unlicensed health insurance plans have left thousands of Floridians with unpaid claims or, worse, no coverage for urgently needed medical care," Gallagher said. "It is a crime to sell insurance in Florida without a license, and those who do it will be prosecuted."

Weinstein allegedly stimulated sales of N.A.P.T. plans by telling insurance agents that Blue Cross Blue Shield of Pennsylvania was a stop-loss coverage provider. However, Blue Cross Blue Shield did not provide stop-loss coverage, but did cover three N.A.P.T. employees, including Weinstein, through a group policy. When N.A.P.T. policyholders' claims became too expensive, Weinstein would submit applications to Blue Cross Blue Shield as if the policyholders were N.A.P.T. employees.

Gallagher has taken action against six unauthorized health insurance entities since February 2001.

Last month, the department launched a media campaign warning employers and individuals to stay away from buying insurance from unlicensed entities. The campaign's slogan is "Verify Before You Buy."

The Legislature this year increased the penalty for a licensed agent selling unauthorized insurance from a first-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in jail. Under Florida law, if an unlicensed entity fails to pay claims, agents who sold the unlicensed coverage may be held responsible for unpaid claims.

Unlicensed entities do not participate in a state guaranty fund, which covers unpaid claims in the event a licensed insurer goes bankrupt. In addition to potentially being left with unpaid claims, many employers and individuals who have purchased unlicensed health plans have reported finding difficulty securing new coverage because of pre-existing conditions and the subsequent lapse in continuous coverage.

N.A.P.T. sold insurance policies under numerous names including the National Association of Professionals & Technicians, the National Association of Professional Truckers, and the National Association of Professional Traders. None of the affiliated associations or Weinstein has ever been licensed as an insurer in Florida.

Department of Insurance regulators were made aware of N.A.P.T. through consumer complaints of cancellations for no reason and without proper notice, as well as slow, and sometimes no, payment of claims.

N.A.P.T. marketed itself to insurance agents and consumers as a qualified Employer Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) plan, which under federal law may be exempt from state regulation. However, any plan that sells insurance policies to more than one employer does not meet the federal exemption requirement and must be licensed and regulated by the state. An ERISA plan allows an individual employer to establish and self-fund a health plan for its own employees.

Employers and individuals shopping for health insurance coverage are urged to check with the Department of Insurance to be sure they are dealing not only with a Florida-licensed insurance company but also with a Florida-licensed insurance agent.

The department's Consumer Helpline, at 1-800-342-2762, is staffed Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Visit www.fldfs.com to view the Department of Insurance's public service announcement and a video news release regarding unauthorized health insurance entities.