Open enrollment is the time of year when people can enroll in a health insurance plan for the following year. The time periods are different for different providers like Medicare.gov, Healthcare.gov, and individual employers – but the thing they all have in common is that scammers will try to confuse and mislead victims focused on selecting their plans.
How the scam worksBBB sees a compelling new phishing scam posing as an email from your employer. The message indicates that you must review and approve your benefits policy during open registration. All you have to do is download a form or click on a link to read the details. However, if you do, you may be prompted to share personal information or download malware to your computer. Business email compromise scams like this have become increasingly common and sophisticated.
That’s not the only way scammers are taking advantage of open registration season. BBB Scam Tracker has received numerous reports of scammers pretending to be a government official who can help you navigate your Medicare or Affordable Care Act options. The scammers claim to be a “health care benefits advocate” or similar title. These scammers claim that they can sign you up for a better program than the one you currently have. This new plan is cheaper and you can keep all the same services. To get started, all you need to do is provide some personal information, such as your Medicare ID number. Of course, the call is a scam and sharing personal information exposes you to identity theft.
In another common scam, callers try to scare — rather than help — victims with their healthcare plans. In a common scenario, scammers claim that your health insurance will be terminated if you don’t re-enroll. Luckily, this “Medicare advisor” can fix the situation – if you share personal information with them.
Tips to Avoid Open Enrollment ScamsChoosing a health insurance plan can be difficult and complex. Be on the lookout for common red flags.
• Be suspicious of anyone who contacts you unsolicited. Healthcare.gov and Medicare provide legitimate help in determining which plan is best for you. These people – sometimes called Navigators or Assistants – are not allowed to charge for their assistance. If someone asks you to pay, it’s a scam. You will also need to contact them. They won’t call you out of the blue.
• Beware of free gifts and “health exams”. Maintain a healthy level of skepticism whenever a broker offers you free gifts or other special offers. Never enroll with a broker who offers you an expensive enrollment gift in exchange for providing your Medicare ID number or other personally identifiable information. Other times, brokers offer free “health checkups” to weed out less healthy people. This is called “cherry picking” and is against Medicare rules.
• Protect your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan information, or banking information to anyone you don’t know.
• Go directly to official websites. If you want to make changes to your health care plan, go directly to Medicare.gov, Healthcare.gov, or your employer’s health insurance provider. Do not click on links in suspicious messages.
• Contact your employer directly. If you receive an unexpected email about benefits policies, ask your employer before clicking on anything to make sure it’s legitimate.
For more information:If you are unsure whether a call or offer is from Medicare, or if you have given your personal information to someone claiming to be with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE to report it. If you suspect fraud when purchasing ACA coverage, go to HealthCare.gov or call the Health Insurance Marketplace call center at 800-318-2596.
Get more advice from BBB on avoiding healthcare scams. If you have been scammed, please report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. By sharing your experience, you can help others avoid falling victim to similar scams.
Rick Walz is the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving northern Indiana, which serves 23 counties. Contact the BBB at 800-552-4631 or visit www.bbb.org.
#Beware #Health #Care #Downsides #Open #Enrollment