By Joanne Arbogast
The Daily Item
Confused about the Affordable Care Act, most commonly referred to as Obamacare?
You aren’t alone. Most people are.
All the more reason to be very careful. Confusion about the health care reform law has resulted in a multitude of scams from con artists hoping to cash in.
As with any unsolicited offer, whether it’s coming by mail, phone, email or even knocking at your front door, it’s important to remember: Never give a stranger any personal information or credit card/bank account numbers.
Hang up; shut the door.
People you don’t know offering to help you navigate the healthcare options, wanting you to sign up for an insurance plan that will make you ACA-compliant, or asking if you have any concerns are probably people out to scam you. They are skilled at talking people into whatever they are selling/offering — the longer you stay engaged with them, the better their chances of success.
This past week, washingtonpost.com reported that officials are preparing for even more health insurance coverage scams to begin surfacing and are warning that most of the schemes are targeting uninsured people and employers, many of whom will soon be required to purchase a minimum level of health coverage or pay a tax penalty.
Scammers may pretend to be with the federal government, the Health and Human Services Department or some official-sounding health organization and might request bank account numbers to set up ACA healthcare plans. Or they may say “you have to have insurance and if you don’t sign up, you could end up in jail.”
If you are already confused, you might also feel threatened.
Don’t fall for it.
There will be penalties to not having insurance but that part about going to jail is not true.
What you should know
Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace starts Oct. 1 and ends March 31, 2014. Coverage can begin as soon as Jan. 1, 2014.
What is the Health Insurance Marketplace?
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (http://kff.org) “Health Insurance Marketplaces (also known as Exchanges) are new organizations that will be set up to create more organized and competitive markets for buying health insurance. They will offer a choice of different health plans, certifying plans that participate and providing information to help consumers better understand their options.” The website also has a helpful section with answers to “Frequently Asked Questions”
For official Health Insurance Marketplace information go to www.healthcare.gov. You will find a list of coverage options you may qualify for, answer to questions that will help you make good decisions and a personalized checklist to help you get ready to apply.
You will also have the option of 1.) Looking for coverage for yourself or your family or 2.) Coverage for a small business you own or operate.
Or call toll-free (800) 318-2596. For the hearing impaired using TTY/TDD technology, dial (855) 889-4325; lines are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.