Scam artists have already hit the streets, airwaves and phone lines trying to take advantage of the confusion many people have about what the health care law means.
As AARP frequently cautions its members and all older Americans, criminals use news headlines as inspiration for clever sales pitches that defraud the public and pad their own pockets. These are just a few of the scams law enforcement officials have spotted and stopped.
For instance, a television commercial urged people to call a toll-free number to sign up for the government's new health plan during the "limited enrollment period." Other scammers, claiming to be with the government, went door to door selling fake insurance.
A state attorney general reported that telemarketers seeking personal information claimed they would send consumers a new Medicare card as required by the new law.
Each of these pitches is a fraud. But scam artists are slick, so it's hard to predict all the ways they'll attempt to twist the health care law for their personal profit.
What you should do:
• Watch for official communications: Government officials do not sell insurance policies door to door or over the phone. As new insurance benefits take effect, rely on trusted sources to tell you what, if anything, you may need to do.
• Know who you are dealing with: Medicare members do not need middlemen to help them apply for new benefits.
• Be skeptical: If you receive a visit, call or e-mail from anyone offering you help to sign up for programs created by the health care law, beware. Do not pay anyone to help you receive your benefits. And do not reveal any of your personal information, such as your full name, date of birth or Social Security number. If someone requests this information, it's more likely they're out to get you than help you.
• Report fraud: Law enforcement officials need you to report your concerns. The health care law includes extra resources for fighting health care fraud. Contact your state insurance commission, your state attorney general, or local law enforcement about any suspicious promotions. AARP has more information about health care fraud and scams.