Suit Says HMO Salesmen Misrepresented Coverage

Three elderly San Fernando Valley women who say they were duped by two salesmen for FHP Inc., the nation's 12th-largest health maintenance organization, filed suit Thursday charging the firm with fraud.

The complaint, filed on their behalf by Bet Tzedek Legal Services, a public-interest law firm, alleges that the salesmen told the women that they represented Medi-Cal and Medicare and that they could continue to be cared for by their longtime doctors if they joined the plan. But after joining, the women found that their doctors could no longer treat them because they were not FHP service providers.

The Van Nuys Superior Court suit seeks an injunction prohibiting FHP from misrepresentation and more than $25,000 in damages for emotional distress.

FHP officials denied any misrepresentation and said the three women, none of whom reads or speaks English, signed documents that stated in Spanish exactly what was offered in the FHP plan.

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