Protect Yourself from Obamacare Scams this Fall

Protect Yourself from Obamacare Scams this Fall

The roll out of the new health care program known as “Obamacare” begins in October, with enrollment from October 1, 2013 – March 31, 2014. This enrollment period is not to be confused with Medicare’s fall Open Enrollment which is October 15 – December 7, 2013. The beginning of any new federal program is an opportunity for confusion and for con artists to prey on consumers. Below are a few important tips to avoid scams both for people with Medicare and those without.

Tips for people with Medicare

  • If you have Medicare, you do not need to purchase any coverage through our state’s insurance marketplace, called Covered California. Your Medicare benefits satisfy the requirement to have health care coverage; you do not need to do anything. (It is actually illegal for someone who knows you have Medicare, to sell you a plan through Covered California.)
  • You do not need a new Medicare card, Social Security card, or any other new identity card.
  • You do not need to verify any of your current information.
  • No one from the government will contact you by phone or in person about the new health benefits.

Beware of bogus emails, phony website links, phone calls, and people who come to the door asking for your personal information who say it’s because of the new law.

When in doubt call the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) at 1-800-434-0222, or the Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-855-613-7080.

Tips for people who don’t have Medicare

  • Remember that there is no Obamacare card or new national health care card. No one will go to jail or be in trouble with the law if they don’t have this phony card (as there is no card).
  • You can’t get a special low monthly rate for signing up early. You can’t even begin signing up until October, and your income will determine your premium and your subsidy or tax credit to reduce the premium when you get your coverage through Covered California.
  • You do not have to pay for help or for information about the new law. Help will be available from agents, health care providers, and from Covered California (coveredcalifornia.com) to assist people signing up for the new benefits.
  • Don’t give anyone cash for health care coverage, or to anyone who says they are from the government.
  • Don’t sign anything you don’t understand, and get a second opinion from someone you trust.
  • Don’t give out your personal information to anyone you don’t know, especially over the phone.
    The Federal Trade Commission says, “Scam artists want your information to commit identity theft, charge your existing credit cards, debit your checking account, open new credit card, checking, or savings accounts, write fraudulent checks, or take out loans in your name.”
  • For the best information go to healthcare.gov or coveredca.com for information on California’s insurance marketplace. Be sure you are on one of these official websites and not a bogus site. Do not use a search engine to find the site, as many fake websites can show up. Instead type in the URL directly.

If you suspect a scam, contact our California Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) at 855-613-7080. You can also see our Medicare Fraud section for more info, and view our newsletter and blog articles on fraud. Visit healthcare.gov and our health care reform section and blogs for more information on the Affordable Care Act.

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.