It’s all about taking your money.
The Patient Affordable Health Care Act is lengthy and confusing enough as it is. Add the hype and the wild fabrications of the past year to the mix and you’ve got a prescription for scammers to swoop right in and take advantage of the situation.
NPR reports that within days of President Obama signing the bill into law, an ad on cable television prodded viewers to call an 800 number to take advantage of the “limited enrollment” period “now that health care legislation has passed.” Buyer beware: there is no limited enrollment period.
There are also reports of “Obamacare” insurance policies being sold door-to-door. I like to think that most folks are intelligent enough to know that there is no insurance company or health policy called “Obamacare,” or anything having to do with the new law that should be peddled door-to-door.
In just the past few months, we’ve touched upon the fraud having to do with Haiti Relief efforts and the H1N1 vaccine program. There are always going to be scammers ready to pounce on a fresh source of income, and health care reform is no exception. It comes as a ready-made ball of confusion.
One of the early benefits of the legislation, and one which easily lends itself to the rip off scheme, is the $250 prescription drug rebate for seniors who fall in to the Medicare doughnut hole. Swindlers will be working overtime in an effort to take advantage, most likely attempting to act as a middleman, presenting themselves as a person who could help you get your rebate in return for a fee.
Another benefit that will come to pass early on is the creation of high-risk pools for adults with pre-existing conditions who have not been able to secure individual insurance, a virtual gold-mine for thieves who would sell bogus policies to desperate people. Careful fact-checking will help you avoid this pitfall.
The Patient Affordable Health Care Act will benefit a great many people, but if it sounds too good to be true… you’d better check it out. A few red flags:
- You’re getting the bums rush – Never allow yourself to be rushed or coerced into making decisions, signing paperwork, or giving personal or financial information.
- The phony government agent – No government agent will be knocking on your door or sending you an email to solicit your medical or financial information.
- The cold call – Unsolicited phone calls from people wanting to sell health insurance or act as a go-between. Insist on initiating contact with reputable companies — and look up the phone number yourself. The same goes for unsolicited emails that include website links — always type the proper url into your browser’s address bar.
- No license – Make sure you are dealing with an insurer licensed to do business in your state.
The health care reform package may be a complicated one but, as always, it is up to individual consumers to educate and protect themselves.
The Kaiser Family Foundation: Health Care Reform Implementation Timeline – Summary of Coverage Provisions – Changes to Medicare Part D Drug Benefit Coverage Gap
National Association of Insurance Commissioners: Contacts for all State Insurance Commissioners
Related Reading on Care2