Regence BlueShield, Asuris Northwest Health fined $750,000

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler has fined Regence BlueShield and Asuris Northwest Health $750,000 for violating insurance regulations related to consumer access.

The fine, announced Wednesday, is for violations that occurred between January 2010 and June 2011. Kreidler says that the companies have worked to resolve the issues and have agreed to pay the fine in full by Sept. 22, 2016. The money will be deposited into the state's general fund.

The issues Kreidler's office found during a multiyear examination include: mishandled consumer complaints; misplaced records of complaints; delayed payments to medical providers for consumers' claims; and the use of uncertified Spanish-language translations in documents that resulted in inaccurate or unclear information for consumers.

Regence BlueShield bought Asuris in 1994 and both companies are owned by Cambia Health Solutions. Jennifer Morgan, a spokeswoman for both Regence and Cambia, said that the companies were disappointed with the size of the fine, and noted that the issues were resolved four years ago.