ACA aware: Watch out for scams

Posted Sept. 30, 2013, at 5:13 a.m.

State officials have a message for you: No one from the government will be calling to sell you insurance.

If someone does, it’s a scam.

Also, that person calling to set you up with a new Obamacare insurance card? Scam.

That site that says it’ll sign you up for insurance from the marketplace before everyone else? Scam.

The salesperson who says you’ll go to jail if you don’t get health insurance? Take a guess. Yep, scam.

The Affordable Care Act is new, and as with all new things it’s ripe for cheats, cons and fraud. The Maine Bureau of Insurance is warning Mainers not to fall for it.

Among the most common scams:

• Someone poses as an insurance agent or government representative and tries to sell you a fraudulent health insurance policy or get personal information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number. (Government representatives aren’t calling to sign people up for insurance and no insurance agent should take personal or financial information from you in order to explain insurance plans.)

• A website says it’s part of the new health insurance marketplace and you can forget that whole open enrollment period thing. Just enter your credit card number … (Be leery. Open enrollment is between Oct. 1 and March 31 only. No one can sign you up before Oct. 1. And if it’s after March 31, 2014, you’ll have to wait until the next open enrollment period or prove that you’ve lost your job or had some other life-changing event that qualifies you for special consideration. In Maine, the marketplace will be run by the federal government and will be accessible online through healthcare.gov. Marketplace plans can also be reviewed through the Maine Bureau of Insurance at maine.gov/insurance.)

• Someone tells you they have your new Obamacare or Medicare card and asks for personal information so they can send it to you. (There is no such thing as an ACA or Obamacare card, and you’re not required to get a new insurance or Medicare card. Any real government person will already have the information they need and should not ask you for personal or financial details.)

• A salesperson gives you a premium offer, good only for a limited time. (Open enrollment runs from Oct. 1 to March 31, 2014, and insurance rates will be good for that entire time. If someone tries to pressure you into buying a policy because the rate is only available for a short time, be skeptical.)

• A salesperson says you could go to jail for not having health insurance. (Not true. If you don’t have insurance and don’t qualify for an exemption, you’ll have to pay a penalty. No one will send you to jail. Beware of any salesperson who threatens otherwise.)

To check the validity of an insurance plan, agent or company, call the Maine Bureau of Insurance at 800-300-5000.

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