MEDI-CAL FRAUD: Imposters Take Advantage of Poor
As officials work to boost enrollment in the Medi-Cal and Healthy Families programs, they must tackle a new type of fraud, the Los Angeles Times reports. Targeting low-income families, including poor immigrants, con artists are posing as "assisters" who offer to help applicants sign up for the programs. After telling applicants that they will enroll them, the imposters ask for premiums, paid up front in cash. "We are very, very concerned about any individual that would try to inhibit people from enrolling in Medi-Cal or Healthy Families," Ken August, a spokesperson for the state Department of Health Services, said, adding, "Anyone who would prey on low-income individuals and ask them to pay money up front is unscrupulous." State officials warn that applicants should never be asked to pay to apply for the programs (Kondo, 7/24). Peter Anderson, deputy director of the Managed Risk Medical Insurance Board, which oversees Healthy Families, said that enrollees must submit their applications on their own with a check or money order for any fees and that the board makes follow-up calls to all new enrollees. Of the 314,000 cases the board handles, Anderson said that his department has heard of only one case involving an imposter posing as an assister, and that case is currently under investigation (Gay Hee Lee, California Healthline, 7/25). But Barbara Frankel, supervising attorney for the Health Consumer Center of Los Angeles, said, "I've heard enough reports of assisters not doing what they're supposed to be doing, it leads me to believe that whoever is policing them is not doing a good job" (Los Angeles Times, 7/24).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.