October 11, 2013

Dental service insurer barred from Maine

By J. Craig Anderson canderson@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

An Ohio insurance agent and business owner has been barred from selling insurance in Maine after marketing a dentist house-call service for nursing home residents that never materialized, the state Bureau of Insurance said Thursday.

The incident has led to the return of more than $162,000 in insurance premiums to residents of nursing homes in southern Maine, the bureau reported.

The insurance agent, Paul Granzier of Westlake, Ohio, said Thursday in an interview that he did fail to provide the house call service in Maine, but said he is an honest businessman who made a mistake.

According to a consent agreement signed by Granzier, state Superintendent of Insurance Eric Cioppa and Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Bolton, Granzier is no longer licensed to sell insurance in Maine.

The agreement says Granzier marketed his house call business, Dental 2U LLC, to several nursing home administrators in Maine and persuaded them to encourage their residents to buy dental insurance through Granzier.

According to the consent agreement, a nursing home administrator complained to the Bureau of Insurance when Granzier only came through with a mobile dental-hygienist service. The nursing home residents still had to go to a dentist’s office if they wanted to see a dentist.

Granzier said he had an arrangement with a company called ReachOut Healthcare America, which he said had agreed to provide the mobile dentist service in Maine. But according to the consent agreement, “Granzier had an understanding . . . that it would provide such services in Maine only if (he) could enroll at least 250 nursing home residents in the program.”

Granzier was unable to sign up enough residents, the consent agreement states, so he instead contracted with another mobile service, Tooth Protectors Inc., which employs dental hygienists but not dentists.

Granzier said he believed ReachOut would provide the dentist service to the 166 dental-insurance policyholders he had signed up.

He had no written contract with ReachOut, which Granzier said is standard for his business.

The consent agreement acknowledges that Granzier made multiple attempts to arrange for a mobile dentist and then offered to let the nursing-home residents cancel their policies if they were dissatisfied with the mobile-hygienist-only service.

Dental 2U is still in business, focused specifically on marketing mobile-dentistry services to nursing homes, according to its website, dental2u.com.

Dental 2U is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has a rating of “A,” with no complaints listed.

Granzier said he continues to sell insurance and provide mobile-dentist services in other states.

He had sold dental insurance policies to Maine nursing home residents and their guardians starting in 2009, using the house call service as “a significant inducement to purchase the dental insurance plan sold by Mr. Granzier, as it can be difficult to have residents transported and seen in dentists’ offices,” the Bureau of Insurance said in a news release.

Gov. Paul LePage said in the news release that protecting seniors is a priority for Maine state government.

“The bureau’s investigation will ensure that much-needed funds are returned to numerous elderly Mainers,” LePage said. “Many state agencies regularly seek to protect seniors from becoming the victim of abuse, including financial exploitation or, in this case, unfulfilled promises.”

Granzier said he was shocked to learn that the state had issued a news release about the incident.

“Did we make some mistakes? Yes, but we tried to do right by them,” he said.

J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 791-6390 or at:

canderson@pressherald.com

Twitter: @JCraigAnderson

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