July 24, 2014

Insurance fraud, deceit flourish from confusion

Sandy Praeger
Insurance Commissioner
You have probably read reports that many consumers know little about the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation, a reputable nationwide organization that tracks health care issues, conducted a poll in April that revealed more than 4 in 10 Americans surveyed didn’t know that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was the law of the land.
When confusion happens, deceit flourishes.
Kansans should be on the lookout for fraudulent insurance activity during the next few months, when scammers might to try to steal your money and steal your identity through various illegal schemes built around obtaining “Obamacare” information.
In the time before the federal law’s biggest phase-in, which begins in January 2014, con artists, posing as federal government workers, may look to steal your financial information by convincing you to give out personal information in order to get “national health insurance cards,” according to Jim Quiggle, a national spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
Remember, there is no enrollment for the new online marketplace health insurance exchange until Oct. 1 and after.  Coverage under the new plan, which in Kansas will be operated by the federal government, doesn’t begin until Jan. 1, 2014. And you don’t get a “national insurance card.”
Scammers often target older people on Medicare, claiming they will need a new Medicare card under the ACA.  But over the past three years they also have been known to target people of any age in door-to-door scams.
The best idea I can give you on knowing the difference between what’s true and what isn’t is to follow our Kansas Insurance Department motto of “Stop.Call.Confirm.”  Whether someone is at your door, on the phone or sending you an email on your computer, if you are unsure about the person’s motives, STOP what you are doing, CALL our department to talk to a consumer assistance representative and CONFIRM whether the information you are receiving is truthful.
If you receive phone calls, personal visits or emails from someone claiming to represent Obamacare on behalf of the federal government, don’t give out personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account numbers, birth dates or Social Security numbers.  Hang up, shut the door or don’t hit “reply” on your computer.
Our Kansas Insurance Department consumer representatives have spent much time during the past three years learning about the ACA; they can provide you truthful, unbiased answers to your questions.  They are gearing up for more questions and calls from Kansans during the next few months, so if you have concerns about anything you are hearing now concerning health insurance, call us at 800-234-2484.
The department will be providing statewide informational meetings in September about upcoming health insurance changes. Watch for announcements about the meetings and other informational material we will be distributing, as well the announcement this summer of the new Navigator program in Kansas, established by the federal government.
For now, you can always check our website, www.ksinsurance.org, for the latest health insurance information, or call our Consumer Assistance Hotline number listed above.
Be informed, and don’t become a victim of insurance fraud.

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