TN company told to stop offering cell phones for insurance - WSMV Channel 4

TN company told to stop offering cell phones for health insurance

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

A Tennessee insurance company is taking some heat for offering a sweet bonus to customers who signed up for their health coverage.

The company promised customers free phones if they maintained some healthy habits, but that promotion may not be legal.

The free phones were being offered by an insurance co-operative that's based in Knoxville, though it offers coverage across Tennessee. It's a way, they say, to stay connected for better health.

"When they get their phone, they have to pledge that they're going to see their doctor, not just select one, but go see them, do their physical, get that data to us," said Jerry Burgess, with Community Health Alliance.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance says the company can't do that. Under state law, rebates have to be disclosed in the written policy.

Officials say "incentives or rewards" that are offered as part of a "voluntary wellness and health program" must be approved by the federal government.

The state says, until then, "they are not to offer cell phone incentives with their plans."

Now, the phone promotion is on hold.

The free phone offer is generating some buzz across the country, and Republicans opposed to the Affordable Care Act are using it as ammunition.

Tennessee Congresswoman Diane Black issued a press release, saying:

"This is an absurd abuse of taxpayer money and a reminder of just how pathetic of a program Obamacare is."

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