North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice

North Carolina Department of Justice
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Obamacare is on the Horizon, and the Scammers are ready. Are you?

9/27/2013

By Attorney General Roy Cooper

Your personal information, your money and your health are all precious to you. Don’t fall for a scam that could put them at risk.

When key provisions of the Affordable Care Act kick in on October 1, consumers will have more access to health insurance coverage. Unfortunately, con artists are likely to use the changes to pitch new scams. 

My office is watching closely for several scams that are likely to emerge in coming weeks. We expect to see scammers using the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, as an excuse to try to steal your money or your personal information. They’ll pose as government officials, insurance companies, doctor’s offices, and other health care-related entities. They’ll impersonate ACA officials, known as navigators.  They’ll also try to sell phony insurance plans or medical discount plans, which aren’t really health insurance.

Already the Federal Trade Commission has reported getting complaints about callers pretending to be with Medicare. The callers request personal information, claiming to need it if the consumer wants to continue to be eligible for Medicare—even though the ACA doesn’t put Medicare eligibility or benefits at risk.

In other states, people have reported getting calls from insurance companies trying to pressure them into making a quick decision on a health care plan, threatening them with higher prices if they wait until after October 1 to purchase insurance. In fact, consumers will still be able to shop for traditional health insurance policies directly from insurance companies after October 1, but on that date they’ll also be able to start shopping for coverage via the Health Insurance Marketplace set up under the ACA.

Remember, no legitimate government agency or company will call, email or text you for personal information such as your Social Security Number or bank account number. If someone does, ignore it.
 
To avoid falling for a scam:

  • Be skeptical of anyone who offers to help you understand the ACA if you pay them first.
  • If someone claims to be an official ACA navigator, don’t just take their word for it. Ask for their credentials and then do your own research to determine if they are legitimate.
  • Don’t believe anyone who tells you that their company is the only place you can buy health insurance that complies with the law.
  • Don’t do business with anyone who threatens you or tries to intimidate you.
  • Before you purchase a new health insurance policy, make sure you ask for and read the details of the plan carefully. Avoid so-called “discount health plans” that aren’t really insurance coverage and may leave you without the coverage you need.

The best protection against fraud is education. Healthcare.gov is a good source for reliable information about the ACA. This is also the website where people will be able to apply for health insurance starting in October.
 
And if you spot a potential scam, contact my Consumer Protection Division toll free at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.  You can also file a consumer complaint with us at www.ncdoj.gov.