Millions of Americans are starting to sign up for health insurance and financial assistance as the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, goes into effect today, creating a fertile field of scam artists and identity thieves.
In some cases, criminals will try to collect personal or financial information to steal your identity and your money. In other cases, unscrupulous sales people will try to sell “discount medical plans.” Those so-called discount plans may be insurance plans that really do not save you money, or they may not be legitimate health insurance plans at all, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan warned.
What to do
- Do not pay for help. The government will not charge for its services. You never have to pay to receive help. If you receive an offer to sign up on for insurance under Obamacare for a fee, you should hang up, delete or walk away. Do not give cash, your credit card or banking information to someone you do not know or did not contact.
- Make sure any specialist you work with is certified. If you are working with a specialist made available by your state, make sure the specialist is certified. Most states are listing the names and contact information of their specialists on their state health exchange sites. You can find your state site through HealthCare.gov.
- Never open your door to a stranger, even if they claim to be a certified specialist.
- Guard your personal information. Do not give out your Social Security number, bank account number, or other sensitive personal or financial information to someone who calls you, emails you or comes to your door. However, be aware that when you enroll for an insurance plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace, you will be asked to provide your Social Security number and payment information, among other personal information. Before you do this, make sure you are on the official website and if you sign up in person, ask the specialist who is helping you to look away while you enter this information online.
- The state health exchanges do not offer Medicare. Medicare is not affected by the Affordable Care Act, and you cannot enroll in Medicare through the state exchanges. You should not share your Medicare number with anyone who contacts you uninvited. If you have Medicare questions, please call Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-877-9392).
- Use the state exchanges for one-stop safe insurance shopping. Consumers who enroll for insurance through their state exchanges can be sure they are accessing approved insurance plans and at the same time determine, based on their income, whether they are eligible for Medicaid coverage under the newly expanded program, or for tax credits to help offset their premium payments.