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Scams On Rise In Wake Of Health Care Law

State insurance commissioners and attorneys general are warning consumers about a new wave of scams that are exploiting uncertainties about the new health care law.

Con artists may call, e-mail or show up at your door saying that under the law you must have health insurance or go to jail. They may even identify themselves as government officials and describe the policies they’re selling as “ObamaCare” insurance.

“People are terribly confused and in some cases frightened” about the new law, says Kim Holland, Oklahoma’s insurance commissioner and vice chair of the antifraud task force of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. “And that’s something a scammer is going to look for—the opportunity to take advantage of someone who doesn’t know better.” 

For the record: The requirement to have health insurance doesn’t begin until 2014, and even then you can’t be jailed for not having it. No real government official sells insurance, no “limited enrollment periods” exist, and there’s no such thing as ObamaCare coverage.

Ways to protect yourself: Never sign up for an insurance policy without calling your state insurance department to find out whether the policy is legitimate and the seller is licensed. Never give your credit card, bank account or Social Security number to anyone you don’t know. And familiarize yourself with at least the main requirements of the health care reform law. Check out the Bulletin’s guide to the new law.

Patricia Barry is a senior editor of the AARP Bulletin who covers Medicare and health policy issues.

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