Covered Calif. Warns That ACA Implementation Increases Fraud Risks
Covered California officials are warning consumers that fraudulent activity related to the Affordable Care Act likely will increase as implementation of the law progresses, HealthyCal reports (Woodall, HealthyCal, 11/15).
On Thursday, California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) announced that the state forced 10 private websites imitating the state health insurance exchange to be taken offline.
The websites were run by private insurance brokers or companies and contained unauthorized references to the Covered California brand, such as the name and trademarked logos.
However, none of the sites were aimed at convincing users to submit private information (California Healthline, 11/15).
More Possibilities for Fraud
Santiago Lucero, a Covered California spokesperson, said that scams are likely to increase as ACA implementation progresses.
According to HealthyCal, scammers could:
- Attempt to collect money for fake "Obamacare cards;"
- Threaten that individuals without insurance will go to jail; and
- Pose as government officials to ask consumers for personal information, such as Social Security numbers or bank account numbers.
Lucero noted that certain populations are especially susceptible to fraud, including:
- Elderly individuals; and
- Immigrants who do not speak English.
Clare Smith, director of the California-based Elder Financial Protection Network, said that "when changes of this scale happen people are more likely to be duped," adding, "Every day a new scheme pops up."
Smith said politically charged misinformation also can increase the risk of fraud.
Fraud Prevention Efforts
In California, officials are trying to prevent fraud by:
- Making the official exchange website available in several languages; and
- Offering enrollment counselors, call centers and online resources in several languages.
The state exchange also is relying on community groups to inform consumers about fraud risks and to direct them to legitimate ACA resources.
Jennifer Ng'andu, director of health and civil rights at the National Council of La Raza, said, "California is a benchmark. We want to make sure everyone is getting information from the right place" (HealthyCal, 11/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.