Obamacare confusion creates opportunity for fraud.
The Federal Trade Commission is already receiving complaints from people who have been contacted by individuals claiming to need information in order to help the person comply with the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). They may ask for social security numbers, financial information, a current health insurance card number or Medicare number and even a credit card. The scams appear in emails, phone calls and even in person.
Listed below are some of the scams an individual might come across.
Fake Health Insurance Marketplace (Exchange) Websites:
- Replacement COBRA Insurance is available with just a click of your mouse.
- Warning you are required to have Health Insurance, it’s the Law.
- Guaranteed Low Cost Insurance Plans are available.
These are just a few of the types of emails a person might receive from possible criminals. The Health Insurance Marketplace will provide options to individuals who wish to continue their health coverage after losing their employer-sponsored health insurance as well as allow individuals to comply with the new healthcare law. Don’t be fooled by official looking websites.
If the link goes to any site other than Healthcare.gov or the official State Insurance Marketplace and indicates a person can enroll in Obamacare, the individual should not use the site. A listing of valid websites for each State can be found on the Healthcare.gov website.
- “You need to provide your social security number and/or current Medicare Card number so we can send you your new Obamacare card.”
- “We need your banking information and social security number to verify that you are a legal citizen before we can enroll you in the new healthcare plans under the Affordable Care Act.”
- “If you don’t want to lose your health insurance benefits, we need some information to verify you are eligible for these benefits.”
Retirees may receive mail, phone calls or emails similar to these indicating they must take additional action to comply with the Affordable Care Act. If you are 65 or over and you are currently enrolled in Medicare, you do not need to do anything to comply with the new Healthcare Law.
Individuals should never provide personal information, banking information or a Medicare Card number to anyone. The government will never contact you by phone or email for this kind of information, but rather will always contact you by mail to obtain documentation.
Fake Navigators, Certified Application Counselors, Insurance Agents or Exchange Customer Service Representatives:
Scam artists are posing as these individuals to gather information to allow them to steal a person’s identity. It can be by phone, email or even in person and they will:
- Try to sell phony insurance
- Ask for a credit card or other form of payment to process a person’s health insurance application under Obamacare
- Ask for personal health information to assist in completing the health insurance application
- Try to convince the elderly to switch from traditional Medicare to the Medicare Advantage plans or risks losing coverage or access to a doctor due to the Affordable Care Act
No one from the government should be asking for personal health information, personal account numbers or for a method of payment. You can contact a customer service representative for free at healthcare.gov or by calling (800) 318-2596. Also as mentioned above, if a person is currently enrolled in Medicare, they do not need to do anything to comply with the new healthcare law.
All insurance agents must be licensed in a State as well as be approved to sell insurance on the Health Insurance Marketplaces. You can verify if the agent is authorized by contacting the State Department of Insurance or by calling a customer service person from Healthcare.gov at (800) 318-2596.
Finally, if you don’t know the person who is asking for the information, then it is better to not provide it.
To Protect Against Fraud, an individual can:
- Ask questions if any information is unclear or appears to be misleading
- Write down and keep a record of the name of the person who is assisting you. This should include a name, the name of the company they work for, a telephone number, street address, email or website.
- If you are unsure, don’t provide the information right away, take their name and number then contact Healthcare.gov at (800) 318-2596 to verify that what is being said is accurate.
- Never provide payment information to an unknown person or company. Individuals do not have to pay to apply for Marketplace coverage.
If a person suspects they have become a victim of fraud:
- Contact the Federal Trade Commission’s online Complaint Assistant or call at (877) 382-4357
- Contact the Health Insurance Marketplace or their call center at (800) 318-2596
What can Employers Do?
Employers may want to make their employees aware of the possible scams that can happen under the Affordable Care Act. Even if they currently have coverage under the employer-sponsored health plan, they can be contacted by one of these individuals.
BCL Systems, Inc.
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