The current political climate has put medical care and health insurance coverage in the crosshairs. It’s now a hotly contested topic for a lot of people, and the coming year may result in even more changes. That’s why it’s important to understand the real danger: scams.
There are a few ways you can keep yourself safe from scammers where your health insurance coverage is concerned, no matter who your provider is. Some of these tips will be specific to different aspects of health insurance, while others are simply smart habits to develop in any circumstance.
- Protect Your Data – When the Affordable Care Act launched HealthCare.gov and the online Marketplace, individuals had to enter a lot of highly sensitive information in order to determine the best coverage for their needs. Unfortunately, hackers took full advantageof the wealth of information, while “inside job” identity thieves stole multiple applicants’ records. And that’s just on the legitimate sites, not to mention the phony sites that sprung up with the intention of stealing identities.
When you’re checking out websites that offer health insurance coverage or responding to emails, make sure you safeguard your information. If the site isn’t trustworthy and doesn’t include an HTTPS security designation, don’t type in your personal information.
- Watch Your Wallet – If you have to pay a fee for a coverage determination or a rate quote, you’re talking to the wrong people. Health insurance companies don’t charge the public when looking into the coverage they can provide, so any company that wants a transaction fee or some other charge is not operating as they should.
While they might need to know something like your household income, they will never need your bank account number in order to “process” the quote.
- Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You – Phone scammers made a record 2 billion phone calls in 2016, trying every conceivable scam. With any coming changes to the current health insurance regulations or new programs, there’s every reason to believe scammers will up their phone call game.
Remember, never give out your personal identifiable information to anyone who calls you. If you are interested in the service they claim to offer, take their complete information—including company name, phone number, caller’s name, and the number of years this company has been offering healthcare coverage—then verify the information from another source. Only after you’re certain this is a legitimate company should you contact them through a verified number and speak to an agent.
- Bait and Switch – There have been reported scams in which a caller claims the victim owes them money for coverage, despite the victim not even knowing who this company is. In much the same way that your mortgage or auto loan can be “bought” by another bank—which you will be notified of in writing—insurance underwriters might work with different companies.
However, you will be notified of any changes in your provider’s status and you will never have to pay another company—no matter what the caller tells you—without having prior knowledge of the switch. Furthermore, anyone who ever calls you and tells you to make an immediate payment over the phone or risk losing your coverage is scamming you; if you do owe money, you will receive a bill and will not be threatened with loss of health care.
As always, anyone who believes their identity has been stolen or their personal data has been compromised is invited to connect with the ITRC through our toll-free call center at (888) 400-5530, or on-the-go with the new IDTheftHelp app for iOS and Android.