Beware of Affordable Care Act Scams

Beware of Affordable Care Act Scams

Health insurance is changing under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and starting on October 1, 2013, people without Medicare who are uninsured or who buy their own coverage can sign up for health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. As with any big change, people have questions, uncertainties and some confusion as to how to sign up, what insurance to chose and how the whole system will work. This creates a situation ripe for fraud. Fraudsters often look for such situations to create new scams.

So why are we mentioning this potential for scams when people must still wait another 3 months (till 10/1/13) before buying coverage? Because the Federal Trade Commission has already alerted us of receiving scam reports from consumers and other federal agencies. Scammers are trying to convince people to act, and give up money or personal information; they want to get to people before they have time to think.

While people can’t sign up now under the health care exchange (and people with Medicare coverage don’t need to sign up; that coverage isn’t designed to coordinate with Medicare benefits), they can start learning about their choices and get ready to enroll. Go to HealthCare.gov, or call 1-800-318-2596, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to talk with a customer service representative. People younger than 65 who do not have Medicare can then go to this site — or call — again in October to create their account and shop for qualified health plans.

If you see anyone trying to enroll someone for health insurance under the ACA before October 1, 2013, please say something. Every report helps us find and stop the bad guys. If you get a call like this, report it to our California Senior Medicare Patrol at 855-613-7080. The phone number on your caller ID — if there is one — or the caller’s name or location — is helpful information for us and other investigators. You can also report to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online or by phone, toll-free, at 1-877-FTC-HELP. Your report may help stop the scammers, and it also help keep others from being scammed. See our section on Medicare fraud for more information on fraud and abuse.

This article was edited from a FTC alert.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.