A California-based health insurance agency was fined $50,000 and ordered to cease and desist from mailing misleading marketing materials to elderly residents in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce said it issued the civil penalty to eHealthInsurance Services, Inc., after the agency mailed false information to more than 600,000 seniors in The North Star State. The agency purchased the domain name “Medicare.com.” Under that name, it mailed a letter to local residents about the discontinuation of certain Medicare plans and offered them services to obtain a new plan.

The company prominently branded the letters and its website with “Medicare.com” and failed to include a sufficiently noticeable statement that it was not, in any manner, connected with the government, Medicare or Medicaid.

“Our investigators acted swiftly to bring a stop to the misleading marketing materials from eHealthInsurance,” Steve Kelley, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, said in an announcement. “We began the investigation upon receiving calls from concerned Minnesotans, and we are grateful for their vigilance and quick action in alerting us to the situation.”

The company was ordered to:

  • Pay a civil penalty of $50,000 to the state of Minnesota
  • Cease and desist from conduct violating Minn. Stat. Ch. 60k and 72A and Minn. Administrative Rules Chapter 2790
  • Identify the specific insurer or insurers that will issue coverage or reference that it sells insurance offered by different Medicare insurance companies on all applicable advertisements to residents of Minnesota
  • Edit its website to include a sufficiently prominent statement that it is connected to eHealth and that eHealth is an insurance agency
  • Pay all investigative costs incurred by the Department of Commerce