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Most often, these scammers want to clean out your bank account or go on shopping spree with your credits card. Not anymore. The nefarious scope of their fraud is exploding. Mortgage title theft and health insurance scams are growing more and more common.
While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has given more people access to health care, it’s also made more people vulnerable to fraud. Take these steps to protect yourself.
Guard your digits. Don’t give your Social Security, credit card, bank account or phone numbers to anyone offering an “ACA card.” There’s no such thing as an “ACA card.”
Beware of people pushing an ACA health plan. Yes, the Affordable Care Act requires most people to have health insurance. Still, you don’t have to purchase a new plan. If you already have health insurance through your job, Medicare or Medicaid, you can keep it or look at other plans offered by your insurer.
Shut the door on con artists. Health insurance companies don’t send reps out to make door-to-door sales calls. If someone shows up at your home, tell them to mail information to you. If you receive something in the mail, carefully check out the company before you add your private data to any enrollment form. Ask a trusted family member or friend to also review the information.
Watch out for fake “government workers.” Scammers often use this ruse to steal your health information by saying they need to update it in the system. No such workers exist. If you need to change your information, call your insurance carrier directly.
What other tricks and fake-outs do health insurance fraudsters use? Here are some common schemes to guard against.
Fake health insurance policies. Con artists promise low prices, no medical exams and guaranteed acceptance. Any too-good-to-be-true promises should raise a red flag.
High-pressure sales. Con artists know the faster they get you to make a decision, the more likely they are to walk away with your private information. Be leery of anyone who says, “Today is the last day to act. If you don’t sign up now, you’ll miss out on the big discount.”
Bogus websites for insurance companies. These fake sites mimic sites for legitimate health insurance companies. Make sure you’re interacting with a company’s real website before entering any personal information – especially before offering your debit or credit card number. If you’re not sure, call the insurance company to confirm their official web address.
Phony state health exchanges. Some states let the federal government set up their health care exchange rather than create their own. In these states, con artists often set up fake state exchange websites. Unsuspecting health care consumers hand over their personal information, financial data and money only to get nothing. Check to see if your state has a state-run health exchange.
ACA navigators who charge for advice. The government provides trained navigators to help people who don’t know much about health insurance. Con artists posing as navigators ask customers to pay for their advice. Official ACA navigators never charge for their services.
Discount cards called insurance plans. These cheap “insurance plans” usually boast a phony list of doctors, high fees hidden in the fine print and zero benefits.
Remember, it’s important to consider several factors – not just price – when choosing a health insurance plan. Buy from an insurance company you trust. Beware of any company you’ve never heard of before. They may not exist. You could end up without health insurance and without the money you set aside to pay for it. Search for reviews about the insurance company you’re considering and any salesperson who has contacted you.
Visit our article library to learn more about health insurance scams.
Original publish date: August 18, 2015; Revised 2019, 2020, 2021
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, a Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
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