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AIM Health Plan Scam?

KM | May 11, 2008

Q: Do you know if the Association of Independent Managers (AIM) health insurance from IRG is legitimate or a scam?

A: It might be that the insurance company is legitimate but that the marketing you saw does not fairly represent the insurance. This "Association of Independent Managers" (AIM) brochure that you sent has all of the markings of a scam. The Texas insurance department investiged the legitimacy of this health plan. We are not aware of any specific legal actions against the company. Without an authoritative finding, we would say that this is a scam. The collective information available should convince any reasonable person to stay away from this program.

The problem indications include:

1 - The marketing and enrollment materials use the word "insurance" but no insurance company is identified. This is a legal violation and should be viewed as a huge "red flag" to consumers. Health insurance companies and their marketing materials are regulated by each state to ensure protection to consumers. All legitimate health plan marketing materials clearly identify the name of the insurance company.

2 - There is no record of "Association of Independent Managers" or the administrator "IRG" with the Better Business Bureau or any other third party. The probability of any legitimate business association not having a single third party listing on the Internet is very remote.

3- The plan administrator lists a New York address but there is no record of either the name or the address in The New York Department of State Corporation and Business Entity Database.

4. The "Association of Independent Managers" Web site indicates that a discount health plan is available to members but does not mention any insurance.

4 - Marketing materials for the AIM health insurance plan says that the plan is available in all 50 states. As far as we know, no health insurance policy is approved in every state.

5- Few insurance agents or agencies are licensed in all 50 states. As far as we can tell, the plan is not marketed by, endorsed or affiliated with any well-respected insurance firms. It appears that there is a marketing effort to recruit selling agents with special incentives like free sales leads but this plan is not marketed by any of the reputable large national health insurance services like Ehealthinsurance.com and MedSave.com.

6 - The plan sounds too "good to be true". This is often the best test for consumers.

7 - The plan is not marketed by, endorsed or affiliated with any well-respected insurance firms. It appears that there is a marketing effort to recruit selling agents with special incentives but none of the large national health insurance brokerage firms sell this product. In fact, the only third party mention that turns up by Googling the term  "Association of Independent Managers" is a vague warning to stay clear of the plan.

8 - Agent recruitment uses a pyramid type scheme where agents selling the product are compensated for recruiting other agents. The naive but otherwise innocent independent insurance agents lend their own professional credibility to a scam that otherwise would have no credibility in the market.

The core problem here is that this is being marketed as a health insurance plan when all indications are that it is primarily a discount plan perhaps using some vaguely described insurance. The underlying association or the discount plan may be legitimate but the effort to pass the plan as insurance violates the law and will inevitably harm some consumers who are misled by the marketers. Unfortunately, this has become one of the most common scams that have plagued consumers for the past two decades. As soon as one of these illegitimate health plans is closed down, another turns up. There have been dozens of similar "health plans" over the years.

 


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