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Consumer
Health care law confusion spawns perfect storm for crooks
WASHINGTON (4/14/10)--Industry professionals fear that confusion over the recent health care legislation is a key ingredient in a recipe for disaster. Add in the rising cost of health insurance premiums, millions of uninsured Americans, and high unemployment, and crooks are salivating at what’s being called a “perfect storm of vulnerabilities” (npr.org April 1). The new law commits funds for beefing up anti-fraud enforcement and oversight, but that’s not going to stop con artists from taking advantage of a confused public. Scams started popping up within days after President Barack Obama signed the law. One cable TV ad urged viewers to call a toll-free number to avoid missing out on a “limited enrollment” period to obtain coverage. Some crooks already are going door-to-door selling so-called “Obamacare” insurance policies. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, Washington, D.C., warns that the best defense is to educate yourself. Don’t allow anyone to rush you into making decisions about any kind of insurance. Take these precautions:
* Beware invasive sales pitches. Crooks are using the phone, fax machine, and e-mail messages to promise you good insurance deals. Don’t bite. * Steer clear of slick, evasive websites. Bogus plans are popping up online that are high on hype but slight on details. If you’re asked for a credit card number without seeing the policy first, walk away. * Tell pushy sales reps to back off. If anyone tries to get you to act fast and give up your credit card or financial account numbers, that’s a sure sign the deal is no good. * Be suspicious of enticing offers. If the sign-up process seems too easy, or the premiums seem unreasonably low, or the medical questionnaire isn’t very detailed, that’s a red flag. * Watch for language about “federal oversight.” If the salesperson tells you the plan doesn’t require state licenses because it’s regulated by ERISA or some other federal law, run--don’t walk--to the nearest exit.
If you think you’ve been swindled, contact your state insurance department immediately. Visit naic.org/state_web_map.htm for the office nearest you.
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