Thursday, October 10, 2013
Scam artists are wasting no time in trying to use the rollout of online health care marketplaces that are part of the Affordable Care Act to their advantage.
Already, reports have surfaced about scam artists claiming to want to help consumers with health care sign-up as a ploy to get their personal information. Consumer groups and prosecutors across the country are receiving complaints about phony door-to-door salesmen, fake websites and people posing as government employees.
Those in the insurance business say it is highly unlikely insurance agents will contact consumers about enrollment.
"Insurance agents themselves, most of us quite frankly don't have time to be calling," Joel Rutledge, a Wichita insurance broker said.
Rutledge said anybody who gets a phone call or a visit from somebody claiming to be an agent or anyone else who wants to help enroll in a plan under the affordable care act, that person is probably a scam artist.
"If you're talking with somebody who poses as an insurance agent, get their contact information," he said. "If you can't call them back, they're not legitimate."
Sedgwick County District Attorney Marc Bennett warned the public Thursday about Affordable Care Act-related scams reported in other parts of the country.
"Make sure you know who you're talking to because a lot of these guys are bogus," Bennett said. "They have fake websites already."
Some of the scams being reported include consumers being told they have to sign up for an Affordable Care Act Insurance Card, which does not exist. Other consumers have reported receiving calls or e-mails from people posing as government employees or marketplace "navigators."
Bennett said federal agencies will not contact insurance consumers by phone and navigators, who generally work for non-profit organizations, will also never contact consumers.
Other scammers have tried to convince Medicare recipients they will lose their coverage unless they sign up for a new plan through the Affordable Care Act. Medicare, however, is not affected by the new law.
"They definitely prey on the fear of others," Rutledge said. "A lot of the e-mails I have personally received say, 'Beware!' or 'Time is running out!' and those clearly are ploys to get somebody to act without thinking."
Rutledge urged consumers to not be pressured into making quick decisions.
"Use your natural Midwest skepticism," he said. "Now is not the time to panic and act. We naturally out here in the Midwest will be hesitant to act. Use that to your advantage."