DOL Tackles Data Miner For New Health Insurance Plan



US Department of Labor Headquarters in Washington, DC REUTERS / Andrew Kelly

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  • DOL said agreeing to be tracked online does not create a working relationship
  • Lower court disagreed, said plan buyers were “working owners”
  • DOL and amici say it opens floodgates for unwanted plans

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(Reuters) – A data mining company and federal regulators will clash in a U.S. appeals court on Wednesday over a 2020 ruling that critics say erases the need for employee health insurance to be offered only in a real employment context and encourages “undesirable plans” risks.

US Department of Labor wants 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn ruling by federal judge in Fort Worth, TX decision that the health insurance policies offered by Data Marketing Partnership LP are employee benefit plans, not state regulated private health insurance.

According to the call of the DMP briefs, the Texas-based company was formed in 2018 to give internet users a financial stake in the burgeoning data aggregation market.

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Users join DMP’s limited partnership by downloading tracking software, with the option to share in the profits from future sale of aggregate data. The only immediate benefit, however, is the ability to purchase low cost health insurance through the company at the expense of the user.

The DMP sued the Department of Labor in October 2019, a year after seeking an advisory opinion that would allow it to market the plans as compliant with the Federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which governs benefits provided by the employer. ERISA plans are not subject to most state regulations, and large plans like DMPs are also exempt from many of the coverage requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

The ministry’s opinion, filed in January 2020, called DMP’s partnership agreement a sham designed solely to market private insurance. He said agreeing to be tracked online does not create any working relationship recognized by ERISA.

U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor disagreed, saying that DMP’s thousands of health plan buyers are clearly ERISA-eligible “working owners” who have a stake in and he DMP. actively provide services.

In an email, attorney for DMP Jonathan Crumly of Taylor English Duma said they “are simply asking that the government follow the rules and guidelines it has created.”

Government lawyers declined to comment. Their call memory in Circuit 5, O’Connor lacked jurisdiction to review the advisory opinion, erred in ERISA’s analysis and overstepped his authority by blocking future investigations into DMP’s ERISA compliance.

The department has gained amicus support from 21 states and the District of Columbia, 12 insurance regulators and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, who say the move will undermine states’ power to enforce coverage minimums, solvency standards and other regulations.

Other proponents include Blue Cross Blue Shield, Public Citizen and several patient advocacy groups who say O’Connor’s order “allows ‘spam’ insurance” and jeopardizes “the benefits of spamming”. insurance for patients who need it most ”.

The case is Data Marketing Partnership LP v. US Department of Labor, 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals No. 20-11179

For DMP: Jonathan Crumly of Taylor English Duma; and Warren Harris of Bracewell

For the Department of Labor: Michael Shih and Mark Stern of the US Department of Justice, Civil Division

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