Phoenix, AZ (Tuesday, October 8, 2013) -- Attorney General Tom Horne is warning consumers, especially seniors on Medicare, to be cautious of scams related to the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as “Obamacare.”
When a new government program is announced, scams often follow. And this program is no exception. Fake websites, attempts to steal consumer’s personal information, and the sale of bogus Affordable Care Act cards have been reported across the country.
The Health Insurance Marketplace, which opened on October 1, 2013, allows individuals, families and small businesses to learn about health coverage options and enroll in an appropriate plan. Arizona consumers who want to learn more should visit the federal government’s official website, www.healthcare.gov, or call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325).
Additional information is available at no cost from:
Navigators are organizations that provide outreach and education to consumers about the marketplace. They also answer questions and help consumers prepare electronic and paper applications to establish eligibility and enroll in coverage. In Arizona, four organizations have received navigator grants: Arizona Association of Community Health Centers (www.aachc.org), Greater Phoenix Urban League (www.gphxul.org), University of Arizona’s Center for Rural Health (www.crh.arizona.edu), and Campesinos Sin Fronteras (www.campesinossinfronteras.org).
- Certified Application Counselors.
Certified application counselors are individuals who have been trained to answer consumer questions and assist individuals in the enrollment process. They may work for navigator organizations, or be associated with community health centers, hospitals or social service agencies.
For a list of approved navigators and certified application counselors, searchable by city and state or zip code, go to https://localhelp.healthcare.gov/.
- Insurance Brokers.
Many insurance brokers will be certified to help you select insurance products offered on the Marketplace. Check to make sure the broker has federal certification to sell Marketplace plans. Brokers receive commissions from insurance companies when they sell plans – so you should NOT be paying anything to them for their services. Understand that brokers may provide you with a narrower array of plans from which to choose than navigators or certified application counselors, who are required to show you all available options.
In addition, Attorney General Horne offers the following tips to avoid being scammed:
- Seniors receiving Medicare are not affected by the Affordable Care Act. Seniors who receive Medicare benefits already have health insurance coverage. It is against the law for anyone to sell a Marketplace plan to someone they know is covered by Medicare. If you’re on Medicare, ignore any sales pitches related to the Affordable Care Act. Do not share your Medicare number or Social Security number with anyone who tries to sell you a health plan, or who says you need a new Medicare card because of the Affordable Care Act.
- Don’t pay for help. You should not pay anyone to assist you to enroll in the Marketplace. Legitimate organizations will not ask you for money to provide assistance.
- Protect your personal information. Keep personal and account information private. Don’t give your Social Security number or financial information to any company you didn’t contact or in response to unsolicited advertisements.
Report possible scams. If you suspect a scam, report it to the Arizona Attorney General’s Office by filing a consumer complaint at www.azag.gov. You may also request a mailed complaint form by calling (602) 542-5763 (Phoenix), (520) 628-6504 (Tucson) or (800) 352-8431 (Toll-free outside of metro Phoenix).