Montana Insurance Commissioner Monica J. Lindeen is warning Montanans to be on the lookout for scams related to the Affordable Care Act — commonly called “Obamacare” — as the law’s major changes roll out this fall.
“Con artists are taking advantage of the public’s confusion over the health care reform law, making quick cash off innocent people,” said Lindeen. “My staff is working to set the record straight with Montanans about how Obamacare actually works and our investigators are ready to crack down on scammers.”
Health insurance exchanges, now known as marketplaces, are set to launch in October but imposter exchanges can already be found online and are expected to increase. There are four common Obamacare scams you should be aware of. Always contact Lindeen’s office if you encounter one of these scams.
A con artist calls you claiming to be a federal employee, offers to sell you a new federal insurance card under the Affordable Care Act, and needs your personal information. There is no need for any new national insurance card, do not give out your information.
Scam artists prey on seniors telling them they need a new Medicare card because of changes from the Affordable Care Act and request their Medicare numbers. Medicare numbers are identical to Social Security numbers and enable scam artists to commit identity theft. There is no need for a new Medicare card. Never give your Medicare number to a stranger.
Scammers were also found using a real health reform provision that allows young adults up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ health plan. They tried to sell a “new young adult policy from the ACA.” There is no need for a separate individual policy for children on their parents' plan. This is the point of the provision.
Fake exchanges are already online with the word “exchange” in a banner on their home pages. Often, these sites collect personal data that may be used to commit identity fraud. The real health insurance exchanges aren’t available until Oct. 1. Refer to www.healthcare.gov for the latest and most comprehensive information on Montana’s exchange, known as the Marketplace.
Lindeen referred Montanans to her office's new Obamacare education website, www.montanahealthanswers.com, where people can find out more about insurance, Obamacare, and ask questions about the law.
Lindeen also pointed to red flags that are usually signs of a scam:
•Beware of unsolicited inquiries. If you didn’t request it, then you should be suspicious and report it to Lindeen’s office.
•Scammers often attract their victims by putting a slight twist on a popular insurance company name. Just because it sounds like insurance, that doesn’t mean it is. Always verify with the Insurance Commissioner’s office.
•Never give out your Social Security, Medicare or bank account numbers in response to an unsolicited contact, whether it’s a phone call, somebody at your door, direct mail or email.
If you are asked for this information and think it’s a scam, report it to the Insurance Commissioner’s office at 1-800-332-6148 or www.csi.mt.gov.