Mike Kreidler (Photo: Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner) Mike Kreidler (Photo: Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner)

Washington state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has rapped a unit of UnitedHealth Group Inc. on its corporate knuckles for use of names other than its legal name in official business.

(Related: State Squares Off Against Health Care Sharing Ministry Program)

Kreidler imposed a $5,000 fine on UnitedHealthcare of Washington Inc. in connection with allegations that the company violated Washington state name use rules.

The unit used UnitedHealthcare of Washington, UnitedHealthCare Insurance Company or UnitedHealthcare Services Inc., instead of the unit’s legal name, 297 times in 2018, according to officials in Kreidler’s office.

The problems involved names on checks, and on letters going out to policyholders and medical providers as well as on checks, officials say.

Washington state requires insurers to use their legal names when corresponding with policyholders and patients, officials say.

Officials in the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner say they discovered the name use problem while conducting a market analysis in 2018, and a market conduct exam triggered by the analysis, according to a copy of a consent order posted on the agency’s website.

“The company responded to the examiner’s findings with reasons for some uses of improper legal name, but did not dispute that the names used were in fact incorrect,” according to the consent order. “The company made corrections to ensure that its legal name is used in its future correspondence to consumers and providers. It did not mail corrected correspondences to members or providers, stating, ‘While the name of the carrier may have been incorrect, all contact information was correct and no other items on the document would have changed.’”

UnitedHealthcare of Washington Inc. has consented to the entry of the order, but the “the facts of this order, and any provision, finding or conclusion contained herein does not, and is not intended to, determine any factual or legal issue or have any preclusive or collateral estoppel effects in any lawsuit by any party other than the insurance commissioner,” according to the order.

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