Now that federal health insurance exchanges – an online means for consumers to compare prices and services – have been launched under the Affordable Care Act, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster reminds people to beware of scammers.
Using the exchanges will entail providing personal information, and that’s inviting for identity thieves. So be careful about phony websites, mailings, calls and the good old-fashioned high-pressure pitch, his office says.
• Beware of anyone asking you for money to enroll in exchange insurance, something legitimate enrollment assistants will not ask for. Be especially aware of those trying to sell an Obamacare insurance card.
• Use the official website. HealthCare.gov, or call 800-318-2596. (That’s also the number to call if you suspect fraud.) Avoid sham websites. Look for “.gov” at the end of the website’s URL.
• Check things out. Verify the affiliation of anyone who wants to help you enroll. There are three types of licensed assistants: an insurance agent, an application counselor certified by the federal Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and insurance navigators licensed by the state of Missouri. Call 1-800-318-2596 to see if the person offering to help is legitimate.
• Resist the high-pressure pitch, ask for ID from anyone who comes to the door, and, remember, don’t offer information over the phone unless you’re the one who made the call or online unless you’re the one who initiated contact. “No one from the government will call or email you to sell you an insurance plan or ask for personal information,” Koster’s office says.
• Avoid fake products. That phony “prescription card” could be just a discount card, not insurance.
In Missouri, two websites provide legitimate information on these issues, according to the attorney general. One is enrollmissouri.org, operated by the Missouri Hospital Association, and the other is covermissouri.org, operated by the Missouri Foundation for Health.