Volume 7 Number 16 April 16, 2009

Scammers Take Advantage of Health Reform

State Insurance Regulators Warn All Americans To Be On Alert

Consumers searching for health insurance coverage since the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2009 (PPACA) should be on the lookout for scammers hoping to take advantage of the confusion surrounding the details of the new law. State insurance regulators are receiving complaints about scam artists going door-to-door selling “ObamaCare” insurance policies or claiming there is a limited open-enrollment period to buy health insurance. Some of these scam artists have even set up bogus toll-free numbers to sell policies.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) warns consumers who have been offered a policy that is a “limited-time offer,” has limited benefits or is advertised as necessitated by health insurance reform, to STOP before making a payment, CALL their state insurance department and CONFIRM the policy, agent and company are legitimate.

No Immediate Changes

While there are many changes coming in the health insurance marketplace, there are no provisions in the PPACA that require consumers to make immediate modifications to their health coverage. Many of the initial changes will go into effect six months from when the law was signed by President Obama - or September of this year. Until then, state insurance regulators, the NAIC and the federal government are working on implementing the changes. This means designing and putting into place at the state level many of the new consumer programs and regulations.

Don't Be Misled

Here are some important “red flags” to watch out for:

Only policies purchased before President Obama signed the PPACA on March 23, 2010, will be "grandfathered" or exempted from changes required by the law. Any policy purchased now must comply with all of the changes required by the bill to satisfy the individual mandate in 2014. If an agent or salesperson claims otherwise, stop and call your state insurance department.

More Information

For a list of the changes included in the PPACA and when they will go into effect, visit the NAIC Health and Managed Care Committee Web page (http://www.naic.org/committees_b.htm) and look for the PPACA charts. Information can also be found on the White House web site http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform and the HHS site http://www.healthreform.gov/.