The Biden administration declared a Special Enrollment Period that re-opened the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace from February 15 to May 15, 2021.This means 8.9 million people are eligible for free or reduced-cost coverage, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. And this also means the 8.9 million people are also vulnerable to open enrollment scams.
Howard Dvorkin, CPA, the chairman of Debt.com, stresses the importance of consumers being informed and alert to avoid scams. "As a consumer advocate with almost three decades of experience, I see the determination of fraudsters during this crisis, and it's alarming,” Dvorkin said. “Scammers do their homework, so consumers should too."
Dvorkin recommends that consumers regularly visit the FTC's and the Better Business Bureau's news sections for information on the latest consumer scams.
Anyone suspicious of a fraud attempt should use the FTC's new fraud complaint portal at reportfraud.ftc.gov, Dvorkin said.
Here are a few things consumers who are looking for health insurance coverage should be aware of, as suggested by Debt.com, the Better Business Bureau and other experts:
Be leery of unsolicited calls or emails. According to the Better Business Bureau, representatives of Medicare or the ACA plan do not contact people with unsolicited messages by email, phone or in person. There is spoofing technology that will falsley show a health insurance provider’s phone number on your caller ID.
As for email, never click on a link that is sent to you in a random email. Scammers can create emails and logos that look official. Remember, you can always contact companies directly either by phone or through their website.
Beware of Medicare imposters. These scammers are good at what they do and can convince consumers that they are the real deal. It’s best to directly contact Medicare for information and questions. Sometimes scammers will pose as a health care benefits advocate to try and create a level of trust. Another popular scam is offering you a Medicare Plus plan which would allow you to keep your current benefits at a lower cost.
Getting your money and\or your personal information is the goal of these scammers. If someone demands quick action or requires immediate payment, beware. And never give out your personal information unless you are certain you are connecting with a legitimate business. Promotional gift offers can be a red flag. Don’t fall for a giveaway. Remember if something seems too good to be true it often is.
Jeanette Pavini is an Emmy Award winning journalist specializing in consumer news and protection. She is the author of “The Joy of $aving: Money Lessons I Learned From My Italian-American Father & 20 Years as a Consumer Reporter.” Jeanette is a regular contributor to TheStreet. Her work includes reporting for CBS, MarketWatch, WSJ Sunday, and USA Today. Jeanette has contributed to “The Today Show” and a variety of other media outlets. You can follow her moneysaving tips on Facebook: Jeanette Pavini: The Joy of $aving Community. Find links to her social media and her book at, JeanettePavini.com.