Judith French: Protecting Ohio insurance consumers

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 11, 2022

Protecting insurance consumers is at the core of everything we do at the Ohio Department of Insurance.

Consumer Protection Week is March 6-12 and it gives us an opportunity to remind Ohioans how we serve and protect them, and to encourage Ohioans to take advantage of our educational information and services. We are a free and unbiased resource that consumers can depend on for help navigating the complexities of insurance and standing up for their rights.

Last year, we saved or recovered $34 million for insurance consumers, helping them resolve coverage and claim disputes, identify financial assistance programs, and outline suitable coverage options.

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Our Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program saved Ohioans on Medicare $24 million, counseled more than 160,000 people, and an additional 61,000 people participated in the program’s educational outreach. The department’s Office of Consumer Affairs, which addresses automobile, homeowners, life, health and other insurance type issues, saved consumers $9.9 million and handled 15,123 inquiries and 5,428 complaints.

We also conduct specific strategic initiatives to protect consumers that involve robust educational material, outreach and stakeholder engagement. Several are underway addressing mental health and substance use disorder insurance benefits, surprise medical billing, and emerging products and innovation.

While these are our direct-to-consumer actions, we also protect consumers in other ways overseeing one of the world’s largest insurance marketplaces. We license insurance companies and agents, monitor insurance industry financial solvency and business conduct, review insurance products and rates, and fight insurance fraud.

We are here to help insurance consumers. Visit our website, www.insurance.ohio.gov, to email our staff questions and to access our insurance guides, tips sheets, toolkits, and register for a webinar. You can also access our services, which include tools to determine the licensure status and any disciplinary actions against insurance agents, agencies, and companies, and to appeal the denial or reduction of a health or mental health insurance claim.

To talk with a department insurance expert, consumers should call 800-686-1526 and for Medicare help, 800-686-1578.