Health-insurance scammers have profited from the confusion over Obamacare over the last few months, and the problem could get worse.
The Washington Post reports that the majority of the victims were people who might be fined as the health-care reform law takes effect: uninsured individuals and cash-strapped employers. One of the strategies the crooks have used is setting up phony websites that claim to be a platform where people or businesses can buy into the health-insurance exchanges.
A few fraudulent websites have already been terminated. The domains washingtonhealthexchange.com and mdhealthexchange.com were brought to the attention of authorities and put out of business once officials found about the scam.
Jim Quiggle, a spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud in Washington, D.C, told the Post, “These exchanges are designed for both individual consumers and businesses, so by definition, these fake ones are trying to lure both consumers and business owners into a trap.”
Quiggle added that businesses may be more likely to become victims once the exchanges are implemented next month.
Scammers are also collecting personal health records and financial data by reaching their victims through emails and by telephone. They gather private information by posing as government officials, promising to help consumers and employers avoid tax penalties if they sign up for a plan that complies with the federal requirements.
Some criminals who are in on the scheme have even gone door-to-door, threatening uninsured people with prison time if they do not sign up for health care coverage immediately. At least 20 states have reported similar incidents.
Some surveys show that a significant number of Americans are confused about Obamacare and aren’t even sure the law is still in place. One study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the majority of Americans felt they lacked sufficient information about the impact on their families, and many believed that the law would be repealed.
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