New York, NY: Reports of scams exploiting people who are signing up for Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare, are surfacing. A report by the Wall Street Journal (Nov. 17, 2013) states that "In the months preceding the October 1 opening of the state-based health-insurance exchanges, consumer complaints about Medicare--many alleging fraud--soared. In September alone, consumers filed almost 2,000 such complaints with the Federal Trade Commission, up from 57 in January 2012. An additional 58 complaints filed this year have mentioned the ACA, up from two in 2012."
Seniors are at particular risk for being scammed and are advised to not engage in unsolicited requests for personal financial information. According to a recent Express Scripts survey of 1,101 people, a significant number of Medicare recipients are unclear about the ACA. As a result 10% of the survey' respondents noted that they or someone they know has been the victim of a health-care fraud. (WSJ)
Lois Greisman, associate director of the Federal Trade Commission' (FTC) Division of Marketing Practices, told the WSJ that in many instances con artists falsely claim that the ACA requires Medicare beneficiaries to buy a new policy or Medicare card. Often, they pose as a representative of Medicare or an insurer and ask for personal financial information, such as a Social Security or bank-account number.
The frauds have prompted warnings to be issued by the FTC and other non-profits including the Better Business Bureau, the National Consumers League and the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud.
According to policy attorney for the non-profit Center for Medicare Advocacy, David Lipschutz, Medicare employees "as a rule" don't contact beneficiaries. Rather, Medicare rules prohibit most insurers, brokers and agents from initiating contact with Medicare beneficiaries.