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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Beware of Affordable Care Act Scammers

Scam No. 2: Solicitors on the Phone or at Your Door continued...

Remember, there is no such thing as an Affordable Care Act card.

A twist on this scam is to tell seniors they need an Affordable Care Act card to replace their Medicare card, or a new Medicare card. Neither is true.

Even if the caller ID looks official, it may not be, Hutt says. Scammers are good at masking the caller ID or creating a caller ID that looks official, such as ''U.S. Government," a practice known as spoofing.

Door-to-door ''representatives" should be ignored like the phone callers. "The moment someone knocks on your door and says they are from the federal government, you know it's a lie," Quiggle says. "Don't engage them.'' Tell them you are going to contact authorities.

You can file a complaint with the FTC by phone (877-382-4357) or online.

Scam No. 3: Fake Navigators and Other Helpers

When open enrollment begins, helpers known as navigators (as well as other types of enrollment  helpers, insurance agents, and brokers) will stand ready to help guide consumers. In August, the Department of Health and Human Services awarded $67 million in grants to 105 navigator programs in the Marketplaces.

Navigators work through the organizations awarded the grants, and they range from United Way to universities, Planned Parenthood, and community health centers. They are trained and certified, and must renew their certification annually.

If a caller says he is from the local community center, he may sound legit but still be a crook. "We've heard about people posing as navigators and asking for personal information," says Carrie McLean, who directs customer care for eHealthInsurance. 

If you have any suspicion about whether a navigator is certified, McLean says, check with the state Marketplace or your state’s department of insurance.

Gray Areas

Besides the out-and-out scams, there are some ''gray areas" that also can be confusing.

  • Insurance agents or insurance companies may launch a web site aiming to make health care reform understandable and suggest it's an official, state-run site. The operators may be licensed and legitimate, but it bears checking. And they should be clear, if you ask, that they are not the state Marketplace.
  • Consumers might expect the web site for their state Marketplace to have a ".gov" ending, but not all of them do. To figure out if a web site you're on is your state's Marketplace or another, go to healthcare.gov and enter your state’s name. Healthcare.gov is the federal government’s official web site with information about health care reform.

More Scam-Proofing Tips

Experts offer these tips to scam-proof yourself:

  • Check out any site or representative if you are unsure. A legitimate web site or representative will never be insulted if you say you want to check out their web site and organization.
  • Check the privacy settings if you use social media. Thieves are good at pulling information off sites such as Facebook. They may look up where you went to college, then call claiming to represent your alumni association with a special deal on health insurance just for graduates.
  • If you're confused, seek out more information. Health and Human Services has a 24-hour-a-day call center to answer questions at (800) 318-2596, and it offers online chats.

 

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