As the Health Insurance Marketplace opens up this month, Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is urging consumers to not only be mindful of potential scams, but to educate themselves on what the Marketplace will mean to them.
Consumers across the U.S. are reporting phone calls from scammers, claiming to be from the government, and offering new "Affordable Care Act insurance cards," which they claim are required by the Affordable Care Act. The calls conclude with an attempt to get consumers to give them their Social Security Numbers and bank account numbers.
BBB is warning consumers that this is a scam, there’s no such thing as an Affordable Care Act insurance card. Scammers are simply trying to prey on any confusion some consumers might have about the new law.
BBB urges consumers to educate themselves about the Health Insurance Marketplace as a way to guard against this scam, and future scams that are sure to pop-up as the government takes steps to implement the full health care law on Jan. 1, 2014.
The following are some questions that are on the minds of many consumers as the Health Insurance Marketplace opens, and the Affordable Care Act is implemented:
Who is eligible for subsidies to buy insurance on the new exchange?Subsidies will be available for individuals and families with income between 100 percent and 400 percent of the poverty line. Consult the Healthcare Insurance Marketplace’s website- www.healthcare.gov- to find out if you qualify for a subsidy.
If you receive a phone call from someone claiming you’re eligible for help purchasing health insurance on the exchange, hang up the phone because it’s most likely a scam. Government agencies generally only contact people through regular mail.
How do I get an exemption for not having health insurance?Beginning in 2014 most people will be required to carry health insurance or pay a fee if they choose to not carry any. However, there are a number of reasons for which some consumers may be eligible for an exemption from being required to carry coverage. Visit www.healthcare.gov/exemptions for the entire list of exemptions.
If you receive a phone call or any correspondence from someone who claims they can get you an exemption from the health care law for a fee, ignore them. If you are eligible for an exemption you can apply for it when you fill out your tax return, or you can apply for one atwww.healthcare.gov. Under no circumstances will you have to pay a fee to get an exemption.
How can I enroll in the Marketplace?To enroll in the Marketplace visit www.healthcare.gov/marketplace/individual or- if you don’t have access to the Internet- call 1-800-318-2596. If you’re contacted by someone by phone offering to enroll you in the Marketplace in exchange for money or personal information it is a scam. The government will not call you to sign you up for the Marketplace.
What should I do if I’m contacted by someone who I believe to be a scammer?Hang up, don’t press any buttons and don’t call back. Returning the phone call may just give the con artist information they can use. Also, don’t trust caller ID. Scammers have technology that lets them display any number or organization name on your screen.
If you believe you were contacted by a scammer in relation to Health Insurance Marketplace or the Affordable Care Act, call BBB at (520)888-5353 or firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with a BBB representative.