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Health Insurance Scams To Watch Out For

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Scam artists are taking advantage of confusion over the Affordable Care Act. In particular, they're going after retiree-aged Americans.

Health insurance companies aren’t the only ones competing for your money as the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandate deadline approaches. Scammers are also trying to get in on the confusion. According to Jim Quiggle, a national spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud. There are a variety of tricks con artists use to get sensitive information – most often they’ll pose as representatives of government agencies.

In one popular “imposter scam,” the caller claims you’ve been selected to receive health insurance cards as part of the ACA, but before the card can be sent the fake federal worker requests data such as bank account numbers. In another scam, the con artists claim new Medicare cards will be mailed out and in order to continue receiving benefits you must provide personal data.

The truth is that there are no new Medicare cards being mailed out, and there is no insurance card associated with the ACA.

John Greeley, of the Texas Department of Insurance, says they have received calls about false insurance claims related to the ACA, but didn’t say the number. Nationwide, nearly 83,000 complaints were filed with the Federal Trade Commission about so-called “imposter claims” in 2012 alone. And the FTC says law enforcement agencies are reporting an increased number of these types of health insurance scams

Here’s what you need to know to stay safe:  

  • There is no enrollment for the new online marketplace health insurance exchange until October 1st and after. 
  • There is no such thing as a “national” insurance card.
  • Government agencies already have your personal information. So unless you contact a specific agency, you should never be asked to verify, or provide personal data.
  • If you get an unexpected knock on your door from someone who claims to be a government employee, it likely ISN'T. You should receive advance notification of any official making a visit.

If you think someone’s tried to scam you, notify the FTC online, or by calling 877-382-4357.

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.