Attorney General Chris Koster and the Missouri Hospital Association (MHA) are teaming up to educate Missourians about possible scams surrounding the new federal Health Insurance Exchange plans that begin enrollment on October 1st. As part of the Affordable Care Act, an insurance marketplace, commonly referred to as an exchange, will provide individuals with options for private health insurance coverage to comply with the law's minimum essential coverage requirement.
"As with any new system, scam artists may prey upon consumers who are attempting to comply with the law," said Koster. "My concern is that scammers will use the insurance coverage enrollment period opening on October 1 as an opportunity to commit fraud."
Consumers seeking insurance coverage through the exchange will need to provide personal information in order to determine which plans are available to them and to sign up for health insurance coverage. Missouri Hospital Association President and CEO Herb Kuhn warns that scammers may attempt to con people into thinking that they are enrolling in a marketplace insurance plan when they are not.
"Scammers may trick consumers using phony websites, mailings, calls, or visits to the home," said Kuhn. "We want Missourians to be on the lookout for fraudsters asking consumers to provide personal information or to take steps that are not actually required."
Scammers could use personal information to commit financial identity theft, medical identity theft, or insurance identity theft. Financial identity theft is when a scam artist steals your information to access your accounts or to open a line of credit in your name. Medical identity theft happens when the scam artist gets medical treatment by using your information. Insurance identity theft is when someone uses your information to sign up for coverage.
In an attempt to prevent Missourians from becoming a victim of these types of identity theft, Koster and the MHA offer the following tips:
• Beware of people asking for money to enroll you in the Marketplace, "Exchange," or "Obamacare" insurance. Legitimate enrollment assisters will NOT ask for money. Especially be wary of anyone offering to sell Obamacare insurance cards. Scammers could try to sell you an insurance card without enrolling you in an insurance plan.
• Check Credentials. Ask anyone who wants to help you enroll to verify their affiliation. In addition to your licensed insurance agent, there are two new types of licensed assistants who can also help you take the steps necessary to sign up: Certified Application Counselors and Insurance Navigators.
• Certified Application Counselors are part of organizations, such as hospitals, that have been certified by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
• Insurance Navigators are licensed with the Missouri Department of Insurance.