FROM THE EDITOR'S PEN / The Caregiver Fraudster Patrol / Editorial List
If you were anywhere near television, radio, newspapers, the Internet, magazines and/or any other living human being, you know that this month was the official roll-out of the program known as ACA, or Affordable Care Act or even Obamacare. One major aspect of the ACA that you may be directly affected by is the opening of the health insurance marketplaces, run by the federal government or by the state (depending upon where you live).
The Health Insurance Marketplace is designed to make buying health coverage easier and more affordable. The Marketplace will allow individuals and small businesses to compare health plans, get answers to questions, find out if they are eligible for tax credits for private insurance or health programs like the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and enroll in a health plan that meets their needs.
One other thing that has traditionally come into play whenever any new financial or
insurance system is created is the potential for (what I would charitably call) fraudsters. So, here are a few tips to consider when pondering participating in the ACA.
First, as always, guard your personal information carefully. Nobody legitimately associated with the program will ever contact you and ask for vital personal information such as your Social Security or bank account numbers.
The government already has your Social Security number, so if someone contacts you and you are asked for that number, it’s a scam. The government is not going to ask you for a financial account number (bank, debit or credit card) because they are not charging fees for Obamacare registration or participation; the government is not selling the insurance.
You will never be asked to pay any upfront fees.
According to the Better Business Bureau, “Government agencies normally communicate through the mail, so be very cautious of any unsolicited calls, text messages or emails you receive.”
Only get information from reliable sources. There are many scammer sites that have popped up, but the government’s official ACA website is
Do not be afraid to contact your state attorney’s office or your local Area Agency on Aging for advice and information or even to report a scammer. The Health Insurance Marketplace consumer call center is 1-800-318-2596. TTY users should call 1-855-889-4325.
And by the way, there are no new insurance, Medicare or even Obamacare cards necessary under the ACA. Period.
Fisher Smith, Executive Director of Medicare Information Source , offers some pretty darned good advice, as well. According to Fisher, “The number one thing is that you don’t need to feel hurried or pressured. You need to slow down and decipher what you want to do before acting.”
And as with everything, use your well-tuned caregiver fraudster smell detector; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.