The annual open enrollment period for healthcare insurance provides another opportunity for scammers to take advantage of. From gathering personal information to receiving payments for non-existent plans, criminals will try nearly anything to score. The signs of a scam aren’t always easy to spot. Here are some of the tactics that consumers should be on the lookout for.
Be on the lookout for anyone calling that identifies themselves from the government to discuss your Medicare renewal. They may ask for your social security number (SSN) or payment information. There may be mention of a new card, different benefits, or a need to update your records and banking information. This is always a scam. Never give out personal information on a phone call. Hang up and report the call. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE to verify the legitimacy. The threat of cancelation without payment for a new card is another red flag. You do not have to pay for a new card. Period.
New Pricing & Quotes for Coverage
Providing personal information to get a quote for coverage is a tactic that scammers can use to gather information. If you want to compare quotes for coverage, the Affordable Care Act has an official site at HealthCare.gov where patients can access prices. The only required information is your age and monthly income. If a site requires the input of personal information like SSN, bank account, or credit card numbers, it is likely fraudulent and gathering data for identity theft or robocalls.
Health Plan Shopping Assistance
With regard to the Health Insurance Marketplace, you may receive a call from someone offering assistance in finding a plan. They will offer to help you (legitimately) find a plan on the Marketplace – for a fee. Charging for assistance is illegal and these individuals are known as Assisters or Navigators. You can find local help via the HealthCare.gov website.
Be wary of any type of service that offers a discount on medical services or products for a monthly fee. There are legitimate options that exist, but do your research and don’t fall victim to a scam that offers very little in return of services. These options are not a substitute for health insurance and often provide unnecessary additional options.
Take Your Time
Do the research and ask questions. Just because the coverage is being offered, take a look at whether or not you need it or have ever needed such coverage in the past. Find out if your doctor is covered by the plan, and call their office if you aren’t sure. Look for feedback on programs and reviews if available. Chose a reputable provider. Be wary of any emails that you receive. Fraudulent links can direct you to sites that appear very legitimate.
Your money and your health are important, so take time to ensure that you’re making wise choices when it comes to both.