Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler wants to have a few words with the owner of the website www.wahealthfinder.com.
Kreidler said the site is confusing consumers who may believe they are heading to the state site, www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Kreidler also doesn't like the logo of the unofficial Washington Health Insurance Exchange site because it is the same color as the official one. He believes it's deceptive because it makes people believe they are getting information from the state, when they're not. To help with the confusion, he wants a disclaimer on the first page of the unofficial website.
"We have talked to this gentleman about putting a disclaimer on there. at this point he's been a little bit resistant to do so," said Kreidler.
Vernon Bonfield is the owner of Washington Health Insurance Agency and the website in question, www.wahealthfinder.com. He said he's owned the name for more than three years.
"There's nothing new about the exchange. The difference is that the government decided to call them exchanges when I already existed as the Washington Health Care Exchange," said Bonfield.
Vernon is running a legitimate insurance business and just made a smart move. In 2009 he filed four trade names with the state that have the words health and exchange in them. Given that, he believes the state should change its site.
"How can the government come in a year and a half after my business had been founded and say your business sounds too much like what I want to call my business, so you need to put a disclaimer on your site so people aren't mislead into thinking they are coming to our site," explained Bonfield.
As for the color of the logo, it made enough of a point that even Governor Jay Inslee piped in.
"There are 10,000 logos that don't look like the Washington logo. There are lots of color schemes that don't fool people that this is an official site. These people should be fair to Washington consumers,” said Governor Inslee.
Again, Vernon is not a scammer. He is just taking advantage of a business opportunity. He created his site in June. The state created its website in September 2012. That in mind, I asked him if he would at least put the disclaimer on the first page of the site and not buried in another section. And he agreed. Bottom line: The state's official site is www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Don't get confused, stay informed and if you not sure give me a call.