Instead of thinking about all the new healthcare options provided by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), many Americans are worried about scammers trying to take their personal information. Con artists will try to look for opportunity everywhere, and what better opportunity than a sweeping piece of legislation that many Americans know little about?
On October 1st the digital marketplaces open, and on January 1st the bulk of the ACA’s changes will go into effect. You can expect to see plenty of people trying to make a quick buck off of incautious consumers in the coming month. If you want to protect you and your family from health care frauds, read on to find out what you can do now.
#1: Use .Gov Sites for Information
If you are unaware of the changes that the Affordable Care Act is putting into place, scammers are already a step ahead of you. When you don’t know what the truth is, anything can sound believable. So, where do you find out what the ACA offers to American citizens? The most authoritative source is the government itself. Thankfully, they provide numerous websites that are full of useful information. Get started at the comprehensiveHealthcare.gov.
#2: Learn To Recognize A Scammer When You See One
Whether it is a phone call, a home visit or a website, here are a few things that may indicate someone is lying about being from the government or otherwise trying to scam you:
- ● They ask you for money.
- ● They request sensitive information such as bank account numbers.
- ● They refuse to provide proper government identification when asked for it.
- ● They advertise low costs that you almost can’t believe.
- ● They offer “discount health care plans” that they try to market as full-blown insurance.
Take note with point five that these “discount health care plans” are not always a bad thing. The problem comes when people are looking for comprehensive insurance, and they get fooled into buying something that is not insurance. Use your rights as a consumer to protect yourself.
#3: Protecting Your Online Identity
Getting your account broken into can happen to anybody, and no one expects it when it happens to them. A lot of the information that a scammer needs is in fact already out there in the public eye. Look at your social media profile and ask yourself if maybe you are giving away too much information. Details such as your address, phone number and birth year can all be used by fraudsters.
#4: Start Thinking About The Future
If you already know what you will do when the marketplaces open up on October 1st, that alone can make you immune to scams. For younger people, you can stay on your parents’ health care plan. If you make below 138% of the Federal Poverty Line, find out if your state has accepted the Medicaid expansion.
The digital marketplaces will offer plans for people with all levels of income. There will also be tax subsidies for people who make 100% to 400% of the Federal Poverty Line. This should make it much easier to get a good amount of coverage for a fair price.
#5: Find Out The Latest On The ACA
With millions of people likely to be affected by the ACA, you can expect the legislation to go through some changes. While a lot of time has definitely been put into writing the bill, it is hard to account for every detail. That is why you should not only learn everything you can about the ACA now, but keep up to date with the changes.
Scammers taking advantage of the ACA does not make the ACA itself a bad thing. People who are looking to do bad will always look for an opportunity to exploit innocent people, and this situation is no different. Keep your information safe, be cautious and be prepared.
Michael Cahill is the Editor of the Vista Health Solutions Blog. He writes about the health care system, health insurance industry and the Affordable Care Act. Follow him on Twitter at @VistaHealth and @VistaHealthMike