January 25, 2022

Vision Cim

Thank Business Its Friday

Better Business Bureau warns of health care scams during sign-ups

VERMONT – The coronavirus pandemic left many Americans unemployed and uninsured. To give people a chance to sign up for health care coverage, Healthcare.gov is open until Saturday, January 15. Anytime the government has an open enrollment, people understandably have questions and concerns. Scammers take advantage of this opportunity to confuse and mislead victims.
BBB.org/ScamTracker gets many reports about scammers claiming to be a government representative who can help people navigate Medicare or Affordable Care Act options. Scammers claim to be a “health care benefits advocate” or a similar title. These scammers allege they can enroll people in a better program than what you currently have. This new plan is cheaper and people can keep all the same services. To get started all that is needed is some personal information, such as Medicare ID numbers. Of course the call is a scam and sharing personal information will open victims up to identity theft.
In another common scam, callers try to frighten, rather than assist, victims with their health care plans. In this case, scammers claim that Medicare will be discontinued if they don’t re-enroll. Fortunately, this “Medicare advisor” can fix the situation, after sharing  personal information with them.
Watch out for similar scams this fall. Healthcare.gov does provide legitimate help with figuring out which plan is right. These people, sometimes called navigators or assisters, are not allowed to charge for their help. If someone asks for payment, it’s a scam.
Selecting a health insurance plan can be challenging and complex. Be on the lookout for common red flags:
Be wary of anyone who contacts unsolicited. People representing Medicare or ACA plans don’t contact people by phone, email or in person unless they are already enrolled. Be especially cautious of threatening calls that require quick action or immediate payment.
Decline promotional gifts in exchange for personal information. Keep a healthy level of skepticism any time a broker offers free gifts, health screenings or other special deals. Never sign up with a broker who offers an expensive “sign-up gift” in exchange for providing a Medicare ID number or other personally identifiable information.
Beware of dishonest brokers who offer “free health screenings.” Some brokers offer this to weed out people who are less healthy. This is called “cherry picking” and is against Medicare rules.
Guard government-issued numbers. Never offer a Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan information or banking information to anyone unfamiliar.
Hang up and go to official websites. Enroll or re-enroll in Medicare at Medicare.gov or in a marketplace health plan at Healthcare.gov.
Unsure whether a call or offer is from Medicare? Gave personal information to someone claiming to be with Medicare? Call 1-800-MEDICARE to report it. If suspecting  fraud when signing up for ACA coverage, go to healthcare.gov or call the Health Insurance Marketplace call center at (800) 318-2596.
For more tips from BBB on avoiding health care scams check BBB.org/healthcarescam. Been the victim of a scam? Report it to BBB.org/scamtracker. By sharing experiences, people can help others avoid falling victim to similar scams.