Friday, September 6, 2013

Watch Out for Fake Obamacare--Scams to Look Out For

You may have seen them on TV--official-sounding ads that have patriotic music, and pictures of the U.S. capitol, etc.--saying that the health reform act is the law, and so on.  That's true, and on October 1st, 2013 through March 31st, 2014, people will have their first crack at signing up for health care insurance on the state or federal exchanges.  But already, the fraudsters are coming out to feast.  So watch out. 

What should you look for?  For one thing, make sure that what's being offered is actually a comprehensive health insurance program.  Some programs that are medical discount plans--offering discounts on medical treatment or procedures--are NOT health insurance programs, and are not eligible for subsidies that can make real health insurance plans more affordable.  If you want to know what's available at the medical exchanges in your state, you have to wait for October 1, which is the first day you can sign up for coverage under the exchanges.  And where can you look?  Use this link to find the health exchange for your state.  For people in states that have opted out of forming their own exchange, the federal exchange will be used.

Also, watch out for people contacting you and demanding information.  Some frauds are using "Obamacare" as a way to fish around for personal information that they are using to commit identity theft.   If someone contacts you and demands things like your Social Security number, just hang up.  Like nearly ALL federal programs, you need to contact the government.  They don't call you.  And you can't even rely on caller ID, since some frauds have found out how to fake that.  If someone has called you, and you are afraid you may have given someone information that threatens you with ID theft, call the Federal Trade Commission's hotline for identity theft at 1‑877‑438‑4338. 

And finding out about the federal program should NOT cost you any money.  If someone offers to help you for a fee, hang up.  There's free information 24/7 at the federal healthcare number: 1-800-318-2596.  For TTY, it's 1-855-889-4325.  Eventually, there will be state navigators to help people around (as of September, 2013, they are still being trained).  But the toll-free numbers are a good source of information.  Here's another page with tips on avoiding fraud.

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