Idaho insurance department warns of scams about health care law

newsroom@idahostatesman.comSeptember 11, 2013 

Scammers may try to take advantage of consumers under the guise of the Affordable Care Act, the health care reform law also called Obamacare, according to the Idaho Department of Insurance.

Idahoans should stay educated about the law to protect themselves from scams, said Bill Deal, director of the department.

Consumers can use Idaho's health insurance exchange, Your Health Idaho at yourhealthidaho.org, starting Oct. 1. The exchange will request personal information through its online portal to help consumers buy health insurance plans online.

But bogus websites have been popping up for more than a year. Other scams are targeting seniors on Medicare, claiming they must verify bank account information before getting their new Medicare card and receiving benefits.

Here are some warning signs that a website, a telephone call or another kind of communication is a scam:

  • Offers Idaho health insurance exchange plans for sale before Oct. 1.
  • Claims to have a new "Obamacare" insurance card.
  • Asks for personal information such as credit card numbers, bank account information and Social Security numbers in order to send the insurance card.
  • Says the premium is good for a limited time only.
  • Says you could go to jail if you don't buy health insurance.

Here are the facts, according to the department:

  • The state and federal governments will not contact consumers to sell them insurance.
  • Consumers do not need to obtain new insurance or Medicare cards because of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Legitimate representatives will already have personal and financial information and should not ask consumers to provide it.
  • Enrollment in Your Health Idaho will be open from Oct. 1 to March 31, and rates have been approved for the entire enrollment period — not for a limited time only.
  • Starting Jan. 1, all consumers will need to have health insurance and may have to pay a penalty for non-compliance. But they will not face jail time.

To verify that an insurance representative is licensed to do business in Idaho, visit doi.idaho.gov or call 334-4250 in the Boise area or (800) 721-3272 statewide.

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