Obamacare Fraud Alert: Con Artists Prey on Worried Health Insurance Consumers

by Lars Peterson on 19 September 2013 2 comments

The Obamacare health insurance exchanges will open for business soon (October 1, 2013), with big changes for health insurance providers and consumers alike. Many Americans have questions about the law's mandates and available plans and who has to buy what from whom. Add to that recent news stories about employers such as Trader Joes and Walgreen's dropping employer provided coverage (both will provide money to employees to purchase their own insurance, instead), and confusion reigns.

(See also: Guide to the Affordable Care Act's Health Insurance Exchange)

Naturally, unscrupulous scamsters have stepped into the chaos to con people out of their money and their sensitive personal identity information, such as credit cards and Social Security numbers.

As reported today in the New York Times, the White House is warning consumers to be wary of high pressure sales pitches promising to enroll consumers in a health insurance plan offered on the exchange:

White House officials said that consumers should be suspicious if anyone asked them for money to enroll in a health plan offered through an insurance exchange. Legitimate insurance counselors and "enrollment assisters" will not ask for money, they said.

In addition, White House officials said that Medicare beneficiaries did not need to sign up through an insurance exchange. Advocates for older Americans said that many were confused and wrongly believed that they needed to apply for coverage through the exchanges, scheduled to open Oct. 1.

Today's White House announcement is part of a larger effort by the federal government to warn consumers of potential fraud. (See also: How to Avoid Credit Card Fraud)

How to Protect Yourself

The government is encouraging Americans to take several steps to protect themselves from fraud.

  • DO NOT give out personally identifying information such as credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.
     
  • DO NOT agree to pay for help enrolling in an exchange-offered plan.
     
  • Current Medicare enrollees DO NOT need to purchase additional coverage via an exchange.
     
  • DO become informed of your rights, responsibilities, and protections under Obamacare at Healthcare.gov and the Kaiser Family Foundation's extensive coverage of health reform.

Have you been contacted by a con artist offering to help you sign up for insurance on an exchange? Is the new law confusing?

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Karen Davenport

Is there a website where consumers can post the names of these bogus companies? ?

Lars Peterson's picture

Great question, Karen!

I don't know of any sites that allow consumers to post the names of Obamacare scammers, but you can report suspected scammers to the FTC (1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) and ftc.gov/complaint.

More details here: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0394-suspect-health-care-scam

Thanks!

-Lars