July 20, 2015
OLYMPIA, Wash. – Naturopath Mark Chan Monwai, 42, pleaded guilty in King County Superior Court on July 17 to two counts of filing a false insurance claim in connection with his Kirkland medical practice.
The judge sentenced Monwai to repay the insurance companies for the false claims. The amount will be determined at a later date. He must also pay $600 in court costs and fees and perform 240 hours of community service over the next year.
Monwai was charged in April 2015 with first- and second-degree identity theft and two counts of filing false insurance claims after an investigation by Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
Monwai owns and operates the Cornerstone Family Health Clinic. Two health insurers, Premera Blue Cross and Regence, canceled Monwai’s contracts in 2012 and 2013, respectively. Not having a contract left him unable to bill those insurance companies at the higher in-network rate. According to the charges, Monwai billed Regence and Premera for services he provided to patients using the names of two naturopaths who had left his practice at the end of 2013.
“Doctors are in a position of trust and using that trust to commit insurance fraud is particularly egregious,” said Kreidler. “Defrauding health insurance companies raises rates for all people, many of whom struggle to pay their monthly premiums. I encourage consumers to scrutinize their explanation of benefits statements and to report anything that seems strange to my office.”
The charging documents state Premera paid 47 fraudulent claims totaling more than $1,100 and Regence paid 116 fraudulent claims totaling more than $5,200. Monwai told SIU detectives that he falsified the signatures of the two naturopaths to endorse 33 checks from the companies.
At this time, Monwai retains his medical license through the state Department of Health.
Kreidler’s Special Investigations Unit investigates insurance fraud and works with the Attorney General’s Office and local prosecutors to prosecute criminal cases. Consumers can report suspected insurance fraud on the Insurance Commissioner’s website.
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Release No. 15-34