Healthcare Reform Generates Medical Scams

NOV 15, 2010

The Healthcare Reform Act that was passed into law earlier this year has created much confusion around exactly what changes to insurance are going to occur and when. Crooks are taking advantage of that confusion to develop healthcare scams. Falling victim to a scam could lead to both ruined credit and identity theft. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is warning consumers to be particularly wary of health insurance offers claiming to be due to new federal regulations.

A number of scams have already been reported, though many of them aren’t anything new. Crooks are taking advantage of the fact that government and insurers haven’t clearly documented for the public how The Healthcare Reform Act affects them. Aside from learning typical indicators of scams, know that the laws requirement for all Americans to purchase health insurance wont go into effect until 2014.

Don’t fall for any of the scams below. Many doctors will report unpaid bills to collection agencies ”destroying your credit score. These scams also lend themselves to identity theft.

Watch Out for These Healthcare Scams:

1. Sales pitches in the form of phony e-mails, online ads, door-to-door salesmen or pushy telemarketers telling you that new coverage is required immediately (due to new reform). It is not.

2. Medical discount cards claiming to be proof of full medical insurance, offering discounts on prescriptions, office visits, procedures, tests, or hospitalization. The truth is, these cards are useless, and you will end up throwing your money away.

3. Selling partial or comprehensive coverage. When you submit a claim, you will find these plans paying little or nothing.

4. Limited open enrollment  policies from people who claim that you’ll be breaking the law if you don’t buy now.  There is no open-enrollment period associated with the law, and there are no provisions that require people to make immediate changes to their health coverage, according to NAIC.

5. Door-to-door pitchmen saying that they are from the federal government to make sure you get new insurance. No federal government representatives are contacting individuals about health insurance.

6. Some scammers use health reforms fix to the doughnut hole  in the Medicare prescription drug program as a device for stealing. The law provides beneficiaries with a $250 check to cover a gap in the drug program when costs increase. Don’t believe it if someone calls you and says, I am with the government, and I need to send you your $250.  Don’t give them any personal information, and call your state Attorney General to report the call.

More advice

Here’s some advice from the National Consumers League on how to avoid being scammed:

  • Never buy health insurance advertised as ObamaCare  or based on a suspicious piece of mail, a flier, or an advertisement.
  • Never respond to a high pressure ” buy now!  ” sales pitch or to fear tactics.
  • Never give a salesman your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number.
  • Never buy a policy online or over the phone.
  • Never buy a policy without verifying whether physicians, hospitals, and other providers associated with it are legitimate.
  • Do not buy based on suspicious mailers, fliers, or ads.
  • Do verify the company’s license with the State.
  • Do get a list of providers on the plan.