Several maternity services companies that sold fraudulent discount health card plans to pregnant women who didn't have insurance agreed to issue refunds, the Texas State Attorney General announced Thursday.
The agreement requires AHCO Direct, LLC, AHCO Contract Servicing, Ltd., Maternity Card, Affordable Healthcare Options, Brian James McDonald and Aaron Christopher Bouren to pay refunds to customers who filed or intend to file a consumer complaint.
The state sued the companies and individuals in 2008 alleging they preyed on pregnant women's fears about prenatal care and delivery costs. The companies promised women that the discount health card would cover up to 60% of their maternity-related costs.
The uninsured moms paid high up-front fees for a "Maternity Card," they believed would be accepted by many doctors and other health care providers. AHCO's website advertised that users of the card would receive discounts on doctor visits, sonograms, prescriptions, delivery and other prenatal care. But when customers tried to use the card, they discovered many did not accept it , or had never even heard of it.
Austin Resident Elna Reinach is one of the more than 140 consumers who filed a complaint with the Attorney General's Office in 2007. Reinach told Consumer Ally she paid about $700 to $800 for the discount card because at the time she had private insurance that did not cover maternity costs.
But when she tried to pay her first bill for a visit to the doctor, she said no one she asked had heard of the card. She started calling everyone she would be visiting during her pregnancy and everyone had the same reaction, she said.
"I wrote to this company and said, 'these people do not know who you are. I need a refund,' " she said.
But the company refused to give her money back.
"Every time I called, it was always a different person," she said.
When she'd ask to speak to the person who sold her the plan, she was told that the person no longer worked there. Fed up, Reinach contacted the Better Business Bureau and the Attorney General's Office.
Eventually, Reinach said she received about a $650 refund.
Consumer Ally called the attorney representing the companies and individuals but the call was not returned.
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