It's bad enough having no health insurance. It's even worse to fall for a scheme that takes your money and returns nothing.

That's what the Federal Trade Commission alleged Health Care One LLC and three affiliated companies were doing. The agency said the companies tricked consumers who were seeking affordable health insurance into buying worthless medical discount plans.

The settlement orders with Health Care One, Americans4Healthcare Inc., Elite Business Solutions, Inc., Mile High Enterprise Inc., and their principals resolve a complaint filed by the FTC in August 2010 as part of an agency crackdown on scams targeting Americans without health insurance.

Health Care One and its affiliates allegedly deceived consumers by marketing medical discount plans as government-endorsed health insurance and claiming they would deliver substantial savings on consumers' healthcare costs.

According to the FTC's complaint, filed in Central District of California, the companies also falsely claimed that their program was widely accepted by healthcare providers in consumers' local communities. The Health Care One companies touted their services in television commercials and radio ads. They promised "100% satisfaction" and a money-back guarantee.

However, the FTC alleged that Health Care One's discount plans were not insurance, were not widely accepted by healthcare providers, and did not provide the promised healthcare savings to consumers.

According to the FTC's complaint, the companies did not inform consumers that their program was not health insurance until after consumers signed up for the program and paid hundreds of dollars in fees. Consumers who subsequently tried to cancel their enrollment found that the Health Care One companies made it difficult or impossible to obtain refunds.

Story provided by ConsumerAffairs.