With millions of consumers seeking health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Attorney General Kathleen Kane is reminding Pennsylvanians to protect their personal information during the open enrollment period, which could bring with it a rise in financial, medical or insurance identity theft scams.
Open enrollment in Federal Health Insurance Marketplace plans began yesterday for people who buy their own health coverage or who are medically uninsured. Consumers have until December 15 to enroll for coverage beginning January 1, 2014.
The Office of Attorney General will monitor the rollout to look for patterns in consumer complaints and issue consumer alerts accordingly, and offers the following tips to help Pennsylvanians avoid handing over sensitive, personal information to the wrong person:
- Be wary of illusory government and company names claiming to help with enrollment, especially if they list a toll-free number other than that of the official help center. Enrollment is simply an option available to consumers, who will not be contacted by state or federal government in person or by phone, email or text.
- Guard your personal information. If you get a call or email asking to verify personal information for any government health insurance plan or for a Medicare card, hang up the phone or ignore the email. You will not be contacted and Medicare is not a part of the marketplace.
- Do not be influenced by the mention of special rates or discounts, as none exist beyond the cuts set by the marketplace.
- Ignore any correspondence asking for a fee. There is no fee to submit an application to enroll in a plan in the marketplace, and the people trained to help consumers with the ACA transition will not ask for money.
- Licensed insurance brokers and agents can seek compensation from insurers or consumers consistent with state law. You can check to see whether a broker or agent is licensed by going to the Pennsylvania Insurance Department website at www.insurance.pa.gov or by calling 1-877-881-6388.
Pennsylvanians who believe they have been victimized by a rollout-related scam can file a complaint with the Office of Attorney General by calling the Health Care Section's toll-free hotline, 1-877-888-4877, or by visiting www.attorneygeneral.gov.