local organizations with contact information, office
hours and types of help offered.
Supplemental coverage. Under the ACA, if
you are 65 or older and on Medicare, you don’t need
to buy supplemental coverage. The ACA’s Health
Insurance Marketplace won’t affect your Medicare
choices, and your benefits won’t be changing.
Regardless of this fact, unscrupulous marketers are
pushing expensive add-on policies to seniors by
falsely claiming that such coverage is required. If
you have questions about Medicare coverage or
want to get clarity, call 1-800-MEDICARE (633-
4227) or visit
Medicare or “Obamacare” cards. The ACA
doesn’t say you need a new Medicare card or another
health insurance card, or that you’ll lose Medicare
coverage. And there’s no such thing as an
“I’m from the government.” The government
will not visit, call, text or email you about your health
insurance, and no one from the government will ask
you to verify your Social Security number or bank
information. Some government agencies might send you
a letter, but they will never ask
you to wire them money or give
them your credit card number.
Official-looking websites. Beware of fake websites
designed to mirror state healthcare exchanges or the official
HealthCare.gov website. After a
visit to a look-alike website,
users may be inundated with
pitches from private insurance
agents unaffiliated with the
government. The official website of the Health Insurance
www.healthcare.gov, contains links to
every state exchange and can help you avoid copycat
and other phony websites.
Discount plans. Medical discount plans are not
health insurance. Scammers may say that a discount
plan will save you money and that it meets the minimum coverage required under the ACA so you
won’t have to pay a penalty or look at other plans.
Most medical discount plans claim to offer reduced
prices from doctors and pharmacies, and on procedures. Many of these plans don’t deliver on their
promises. Others are attempts to get your personal
or financial information, so the scammer can steal
your identity. C
David Horowitz is
a leading consumer
Horowitz is the
CEO of Fight Back!
and co-founder of
Email David and
Amanda at info@
Fight Back TIPS FROM
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www.fightback.com or email
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answers of the greatest interest to Costco members will be used in this column
(with the permission of the contributor) and will be posted on
© 2013 AMANDA HORO WITZ MEDIA, LLC ALL RIGH TS RESERVED
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BE SUSPICIOUS OF anyone
claiming to represent the
government in person or
via email, text or phone.
Government agencies typically communicate only
through the U.S. mail.
; If someone asks for
money to help you shop for
insurance, it’s a sure sign
the offer is not legit.
; Don’t click on links provided in unsolicited emails.
Type in the URL yourself.
; Don’t trust caller ID.
Scam artists can fake phone
numbers and organization
; If a scam artist calls
you, hang up the phone.
Don’t press any buttons or
return any voice mails ever.
; Report any scams
you see to the Federal Trade
Commission. Call 1-877-
FTC-HELP (382-4357) or go
If you think your identity’s
been stolen, visit www.ftc.
gov/idtheft or call 1-877-
ID-THEFT (438-4338). C
Don’t be a target for new
health insurance scams
OVER THE PAST months, state and federal authorities have reported a rising number of consumer
complaints linked to the Affordable Care Act (ACA),
ranging from deceptive sales practices to identity
theft. It’s no surprise, since scams tend to follow the
headlines. “Whenever there’s something big in the
news we see scam artists trying to use it to defraud
consumers out of their money,” says Tracey Thomas,
a representative from the Federal Trade Commission.
ACA scams especially target the elderly. But even if you’re
older, that doesn’t mean you’re
gullible. You can get scammed
at any age. “Scammers generally
don’t discriminate when it
comes to defrauding consumers, so all consumers need to be
careful,” warns Thomas.
Fraudsters prey on lack of
clarity and information about
what the healthcare law actually
covers, making statements such
as “recipients may qualify for
cheaper auto insurance.” (The
ACA does not affect auto coverage.) These rip-off experts all have one thing in
common: They are trying to deceive you so that you
will give them your sensitive personal information.
Their pitches usually come with a telephone call, a
knock at the door or perhaps an official-sounding
email. The more you know about the scams that are
out there, the less likely you are to be a victim.
“I will help you.” Some con artists are quoting
fees as high as $100 to “help” people navigate the
insurance landscape. You should know that govern-ment-trained navigators and assisters are available
to help at no cost. You can find a list of helpers in
your area at
https://localhelp.healthcare.gov. You can
search by city and state or ZIP code to see a list of