Health Care Alert: Obamacare-Related Scams

If the Affordable Care Act were a ship, scammers would be the remoras clinging to the hull. Health care scams actually predate Obamacare but the complexity of the new law along with its delays, and now the confusion caused by its glitchy website, have made it ripe for matchstick men. And although con artists can’t be accused of age discrimination, senior citizens are their favorite targets. One of the most common frauds consists of officially-looking fake websites which are nothing more than a façade to lure unsuspecting victims in. These bogus sites are often set up by private insurers who are not affiliated with the government or with the state health care exchanges.
In other instances, more proactive scammers will call and even visit their intended marks under the guise of government agents. These grifters are the proverbial wolves in sheep’s clothing; they will appear concerned about the victim’s wellbeing, and will sweet-talk them into disclosing private Medicare and banking information for identity theft purposes. A common claim is that elderly people over 65 years of age need additional policies or new Medicare cards, and surprisingly enough, many fall for it. It is surprising because people who are already covered by Medicare are among the few who need not worry about buying insurance through the new health care marketplaces.
Government programs such as Senior Medicare Patrol have been flooded with calls from older citizens who want to complain about scams, but that may just be the tip of the iceberg. The possibility that many victims refrain from contacting authorities like the Federal Trade Commission out of embarrassment can’t be underestimated. However, the best way to assuage the damage and protect others is to speak up about health care fraud. More importantly, people need to be informed; it may be hard to keep up with the admittedly not perfect Affordable Care Act, but as they say, two wrongs don’t make a right.