2016 Connecticut General Statutes
Title 38a - Insurance
Chapter 700c - Health Insurance
Section 38a-479qq - Medical discount plans: Definitions, prohibited sales practices, penalties.

(a) As used in this section and section 38a-479rr:

(1) “Affiliate” means a person that directly or indirectly through one or more intermediaries, controls, or is controlled by, or is under common control with, a health insurer, health care center, hospital service corporation, medical service corporation or fraternal benefit society licensed in this state;

(2) “Consumer” means: (A) A person to whom a medical discount plan is marketed or advertised, or (B) a member, as defined in this subsection;

(3) “Marketer” means a person that markets, advertises or sells a medical discount plan, including, but not limited to, an entity that markets, advertises or sells a medical discount plan under its own name;

(4) “Medical discount plan” means a business arrangement or contract in which a person, in exchange for payment, provides access for its members to providers of health care services and the right to receive health care services from those providers at a discount. “Medical discount plan” does not include a product that (A) is otherwise subject to regulation or approval under this title, or (B) costs less than twenty-five dollars, annually, in the aggregate;

(5) “Medical discount plan organization” means a person that (A) establishes a medical discount plan, (B) contracts with providers, provider networks or other medical discount plan organizations to provide health care services at a discount to medical discount plan members, and (C) determines the fees charged to the members for the medical discount plan. “Medical discount plan organization” does not include a health insurer, health care center, hospital service corporation, medical service corporation or fraternal benefit society licensed in this state or any affiliate of such health insurer, health care center, hospital service corporation, medical service corporation or fraternal benefit society;

(6) “Health care services” means any care, service or treatment of an illness or dysfunction of, or injury to, the human body. “Health care services” includes physician care, inpatient care, hospital surgical services, emergency medical services, ambulance services, dental care services, vision care services, mental health care services, substance abuse services, chiropractic services, podiatric services, laboratory test services and the provision of medical equipment or supplies. “Health care services” does not include pharmaceutical supplies or prescriptions;

(7) “Member” means an individual who pays for the right to receive the benefits of a medical discount plan; and

(8) “Person” means a person, as defined in section 38a-1.

(b) No person shall market, advertise or sell to a resident of this state a medical discount plan or any plan material that: (1) Fails to provide to the consumer a clear and conspicuous disclosure that the medical discount plan is not insurance and that the plan only provides for discounted health care services from participating providers within the plan; (2) uses in its marketing materials, advertisements, brochures or member discount cards the term “insurance”, “health plan”, “coverage”, “copay”, “copayments”, “preexisting conditions”, “guaranteed issue”, “premium”, “PPO”, “preferred provider organization” or any other term that could reasonably mislead a person into believing the medical discount plan is insurance, except that such terms may be used as a disclaimer of any relationship between the medical discount plan and insurance; (3) fails to provide the name, address and telephone number of the administrator of the medical discount plan; (4) fails to make available to the consumer through a toll-free telephone number, upon request of the consumer, a complete and accurate list of the participating providers within the plan in the consumer's local area and a list of the services for which the discounts are applicable; (5) fails to make a printed copy of such list available to the consumer upon request commencing with the time the plan is purchased or fails to update the list at least once every six months; (6) fails to use plain language to describe the discounts or access to discounts offered and such failure results in representations of the discounts that are misleading, deceptive or fraudulent; (7) fails to provide the consumer notice of the right to cancel such medical discount plan; (8) offers discounted health care services or products that are not authorized by a contract with each provider listed in conjunction with the medical discount plan; (9) fails to allow a consumer to cancel a medical discount plan not later than thirty days after the date payment is received by the medical discount plan; (10) with respect to a consumer who cancels a medical discount plan pursuant to subdivision (9) of this subsection, fails to guarantee a refund of all membership fees paid to the medical discount plan by the consumer, excluding a reasonable one-time processing fee, not later than thirty days after the member gives timely notification of cancellation of the plan to the medical discount plan organization; or (11) fails to (A) provide at least one member discount card for each member as proof of membership, and (B) prominently display on such member discount card a statement that the medical discount plan is not insurance.

(c) Any person who knowingly operates as a medical discount plan organization in violation of this section shall be fined not more than fifteen thousand dollars. Any person who knowingly aids and abets another that the person knew or reasonably should have known was operating as a medical discount plan organization in violation of this section shall be fined not more than fifteen thousand dollars.

(d) Any person who collects fees for purported membership in a medical discount plan but fails to provide the promised benefits shall be subject to the penalties for larceny under sections 53a-122 to 53a-125b, inclusive, depending on the amount involved. Upon the conviction of such person of larceny, as defined in section 53a-119, if the court does not order financial restitution pursuant to section 53a-28, the commissioner may order reimbursement of any membership fees paid by residents of the state who were harmed by such offense.

(e) Any person licensed in this state as a health insurer, health care center, hospital service corporation, medical service corporation or fraternal benefit society, or any affiliate owned or controlled by such health insurer, health care center, hospital service corporation, medical service corporation or fraternal benefit society, may offer medical discount plans in this state pursuant to such licensure.

(P.A. 05-237, S. 1; P.A. 08-178, S. 51; 08-181, S. 1.)

History: P.A. 05-237 effective July 1, 2005; P.A. 08-178 increased maximum fines from $10,000 to $15,000 in Subsec. (c); P.A. 08-181 added Subsec. (a)(3) defining “marketer”, redesignated existing Subsecs. (a)(3) to (a)(7) as new Subsecs. (a)(4) to (a)(8), amended Subsec. (b) by changing “may” to “shall”, and amended Subsec. (d) by authorizing commissioner to order additional penalty of membership fees reimbursement.

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