(Federal Trade Commission) - Wading through your health insurance options and plans can be complex, overwhelming, and confusing. Dishonest companies and scammers know this and use it to their advantage. Instead of getting the health insurance coverage you and your family need, you could end up with a so-called “health plan” that covers few if any medical expenses that leave you on the hook for major medical bills. 

 

Five Signs of a Health Insurance Scam

 

Medicare and health insurance scams are common. Scammers are always looking for new ways to steal your money and your personal information, but they use familiar techniques. Here are five signs you’re dealing with a health insurance scam:

1. Scammers say they’re from the government and need money or your personal information. Someone from "the government" isn't ever going to call you out of the blue and ask for money or personal information. Also, they don't call to verify your social security number, because if you're on it, they've got that information already! They're not going to ask for a bank account number and certainly not a credit card number. They're also not going to ask you to wire money or pay for something using a gift card. 

Honestly, a gift card? Do these scammers think people are crazy enough to believe that they can pay a government bill by purchasing an iTunes card? 

Yes. Yes, they do. Don't fall for it!

If you have a question about Medicare or the Health Insurance Marketplace®, hang up with the scammer and contact the government directly: 

2. Scammers say you need to pay a fee for a new Medicare card or you’ll lose your Medicare coverage. There's never been a time that you've needed to buy a new card. Medicare will never call out of the blue to say you’ll lose coverage. Those are scams. Read more about Medicare cards.

3. Scammers try to sell you a fake medical discount plan. Medical discount plans charge you a monthly fee for discounts on specific medical services or products from a list of participating providers. They’re not a substitute for health insurance. While some medical discount plans provide legitimate discounts, others take people’s money and offer very little in return. So if you’re considering one, check out every claim the plan makes, including whether your doctor participates in the plan. And be sure to get the details of the discount plan in writing before you sign up.

4. Scammers want your sensitive personal information in exchange for a price quote. The Affordable Care Act’s (ACA’s) official government site is HealthCare.gov. It lets you compare prices on health insurance plans, check your eligibility for healthcare subsidies, and begin enrollment. But HealthCare.gov will only ask for your monthly income and your age to give you a price quote. Never enter personal financial information like your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number to get a quote for health insurance. You’ll be setting yourself up for robocalls or much worse — identity theft.

5. Scammers want you to pay for help with the Health Insurance Marketplace. The people who offer legitimate help with the Health Insurance Marketplace — sometimes called Navigators or Assisters — are not allowed to charge you and won’t ask you for personal or financial information. Go to HealthCare.gov and click “Find Local Help” to learn more.