As the beginning of the enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace approaches, it is important to be aware of ways dishonest individuals may try to gain access to your money or your personally identifiable information. According to the Office of the Inspector General, there are key ways you can protect yourself from becoming a victim to fraud:
- People who are officially given the role of helping individuals with enrollment will not charge fees. They are not allowed to. If you are looking for assistance, and the person you communicate with wants you to pay them money to help you enroll, it is fraud.
- No one should threaten you with legal action if you do not sign up for a plan. There is a penalty associated with not having insurance unless you receive a hardship waiver, but this is enforced through the tax system. So, do not feel pressured to give away personally identifiable information because someone is threatening to you with legal trouble.
- If someone comes to your door, always ask for identification. Legitimate outreach volunteers should carry information about the organization they are with.
- If someone contacts you about enrollment, and you did not contact them first, be wary about giving out personal information. When in doubt, hang up. Assistance for enrollment will be easy to find. For federal assistance, you can call 1-800-318-2596 (TTY 1-855-889-4325) or go to the marketplace website to find someone in your area who can help you.
- If you are a Medicare beneficiary, you do not need to buy health insurance in the Health Insurance Marketplace. Medicare is not going anywhere. Do not let someone tell you otherwise.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, report it to 1-800-318-2596.
–Lauren Chesson, MSW Intern