Consumer Alert: Beware Healthcare Scams during Open Enrollment
State officials today are warning Connecticut residents to look out for scammers using federal open enrollment periods to lure consumers into buying fake health plans or otherwise obtain personal or financial information, Attorney General George Jepsen, state Department of Insurance Commissioner Katharine Wade and Jim Wadleigh, CEO of Access Health CT, said today.
Their alert comes after an email scam was reported to the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Insurance. The email purported to offer "TrumpCare-AHCA" plans to Connecticut residents through a sham Web site and phone number. "AHCA" refers to the federal American Health Care Act, which was not passed by Congress and is not in effect.
"Scammers are using the confusion over the federal healthcare debate to try to victimize consumers during the current open enrollment periods," Attorney General Jepsen said. "It is an unfortunate reality that scammers frequently use current events to take advantage of people. For those consumers who are right now looking at their healthcare options for the coming year, it's very important to be cautious and take steps to protect yourself and ensure that the policy and insurer that you're considering is legitimate."
"If consumers have any questions or concerns about the validity of an insurance company, I urge them to contact the Insurance Department," said Commissioner Wade. "We can help with this or any other insurance issue."
"Buying healthcare coverage can be confusing and these scams are seeking to take advantage of consumers as they are making critical decisions about their plans for 2018," said Wadleigh. "Access Health CT is the only place where you can shop and sign up for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. If you've got questions or concerns, give us a call, we are here to help."
The open enrollment periods for both the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and certain Medicare plans are currently underway. Open enrollment for Medicare ends on December 7, 2017, and open enrollment for individual health insurance plans ends on December 22, 2017.
Access Health CT is Connecticut's official health insurance marketplace through the ACA. For more information about purchasing a health plan through the official marketplace, visit accesshealthct.com, call 855-805-4325 or text "GetCoveredCT" to 30644.
For more information about Medicare plans and options, visit www.medicare.gov or call the Connecticut Department of Aging's CHOICES program at 800-994-9422.
Officials advised that Connecticut residents should watch for warning signs of healthcare coverage-related scams, including:
• Don't click links or open attachments to emails unless you're absolutely sure of the source. Scammers will often use malicious documents and Web sites to try to gain access to your computer or device.
• High pressure tactics are common indicators of a scam, as are requirements that payments be sent through a prepaid debit card, money order or gift card. Once money is sent, it is often difficult – if not impossible – to recover.
• Watch for warning signs that a Web site or a phone number is not legitimate. Did the email come from an email address that doesn't look official? When you hover over a Web link (remember, don't click it!), does the previewed Web site address seem fishy? When in doubt, call the Attorney General or the Insurance Department first.
• Never provide Social Security numbers or other personal identifying information to unsolicited telephone callers, through email, or to door-to-door salesmen claiming they need such information to ensure continued participation in Medicare or other government programs.
• Beware of scammers creating fictitious insurance companies. Consumers who purchase "policies" from these fake insurers typically do not find out they have become victims until they go to make a medical claim, which is either unpaid or the insurer cannot be located. Before you write a check or sign a contract, call the Connecticut Insurance Department to verify the insurance company and agent are licensed in this state.
Consumers with questions or concerns can contact the Office of the Attorney General at 860-808-5318, the Insurance Department at 800-203-3447, and Access Health CT at 855-805-4325.
Office of the Attorney General:
Jaclyn M. Severance