State insurance officials have been sending cease-and-desist letters to websites attempting to imitate Obamacare’s online insurance marketplaces, The Hill reports. Consumer advocates say the sites are meant to confuse Americans as they try to enroll in health coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and represent a concerted effort by scammers and unscrupulous insurance companies to take advantage of the confusion surrounding Obamacare.
Although some of the most common Obamacare-related scams involve contacting seniors and trying to convince them that they need to provide their Social Security numbers, Medicare identification numbers, or bank routing information because of health reform, a number of states have also been warning legitimate insurance companies from setting up websites that might confuse customers.
While Americans signing up for insurance through Obamacare’s official marketplaces will likely be eligible for federal subsidies to help them afford their plans, insurance plans bought outside of the marketplaces do not qualify for the same financial assistance. That means websites which appear similar to the federal enrollment portal or the state-based web pages could confuse Americans into buying a product for which they won’t receive subsidies.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and consumer protection groups like Fraud.org have been working to track would-be Obamacare fraudsters and recommend that consumers visit the FTC’s online complaint assistance website or call 1-877-FTC-HELP if they feel that they have been targets of fraud.
Fraud.org’s primary recommendation for avoiding Obamacare scams is to get more educated about the health law.