As the day for enrollment through federal health care exchanges draws near, leaders with the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud are warning consumers about an array of ways that scam artists may try to steal financial information from those signing up for services made possible by the Affordable Care Act.
Coalition leaders said that scam artists may pose as people who are responsible for educating the public on the new law, who are sometimes called "navigators."
President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act will provide health care coverage to 30 million people.
Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled that the core of the health care reform act was constitutional.
Some of the act's requirements have already been implemented, and others will continue to be rolled out through 2018.
Under the act, marketplaces are being created, which will allow individuals and small business owners to shop for insurance coverage via Internet-based exchanges.
Enrollment for the exchanges starts Oct. 1, and individual coverage will be effective in January 2014.
They may forge credentials or invent official-looking documentation and tell consumers they are required to provide bank and Social Security information. Or they may try to sell fake insurance, according to the coalition.
Coalition leaders suggested these tips to avoid scams:
—Know what real navigator credentials look like.
—Do not allow a supposed navigator to sign you up for a specific health plan or to charge fees and health premiums.
—Learn what your state exchange website looks like and how it operates.
—Fill out enrollment forms honestly.
—Be prepared to ask navigators detailed questions.
—Visit www.healthcare.gov for more information.
Many leaders have been working to educate an already-confused public about the new law, and some are worried that fake insurance sites will lead to even more confusion.
Click here to read more about that from Kaiser Health News.
ACA disapproval, but local leader says repeal isn't possible
In related news, a new poll found that 53 percent of Americans disapprove of the new law. Forty-two percent of people surveyed approve, according to the Pew Research Center and USA Today.
And some officials, such as Sen. Lamar Alexander, want the law to be repealed.
But David Yoder, one of the founders of American Exchange—a new local company whose leaders are helping residents nationwide connect with health insurance through marketplaces—said he doesn't see any "practical or possible" way to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
"In fact, it would be disastrous to attempt," he said via email. "Since the law's inception, many individuals and families have come to depend upon the benefits already in place. To remove those benefits would create massive consumer confusion and unreasonable expense for insurance carriers and providers to update their policies and processes."
Leaders with the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's Hixson Council will discuss the effects of the new Affordable Care Act on small businesses at the Sept. 18 monthly meeting.
Click here for more information.
The employer mandate has already been delayed until 2015, and some leaders want a delay on the individual mandate, too.
And Yoder said he thinks the success or failure of the ACA will be determined by requiring people to get coverage.
"The benefits and costs are highly affordable, and people are ready to participate," he said.
The survey also found that 63 percent of Americans haven't yet felt much impact from the new law. Below are services already made possible by the Affordable Care Act.
—Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage that provides dependent coverage of children must make coverage available for adult children up to age 26, Yoder said.
—Effective March 30, 2010, amounts spent on medical care for an eligible adult child can generally be excluded from taxable income.
—Group health plans and health insurance issuers may not impose pre-existing condition exclusions on coverage for children younger than 19.
—Group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage may not impose lifetime limits or unreasonable annual limits on the dollar value of essential health benefits.
—The first phase of the small business tax credit for qualified small employers began in 2010.
—Health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage (including grandfathered health plans) must annually report on the share of premium dollars spent on health care and provide consumer rebates for excessive medical loss ratios.
—In order to make prescription drug coverage more affordable for Medicare enrollees, ACA marketplaces provided a 50 percent discount on all brand name drugs and biologics for those in a coverage gap. It also began phasing in additional discounts on brand name and generic drugs to completely fill the gap by 2020 for all Part D enrollees.
—ACA provided a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan services for Medicare beneficiaries and eliminated cost-sharing for preventive care services beginning in 2011.
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