Scams take advantage of Affordable Care Act confusion

August 15, 2013

Shannon Heffernan

Flickr/José Goulão

A poll from Kaiser recently showed that most Americans do not understand how the Affordable Care Act will impact them. That lack of information offers a perfect opportunity for scams.

The Better Business Bureau says people have received calls from someone claiming to be from the government. They offer insurance cards, but say they need personal information to complete the process.

Tom Joyce is an Illinois representative for the Better Business Bureau. 

“A red flag would be if they ask you for your social security number, bank account information, credit card information. That information can be used for identity theft,” says Joyce.

Jason Echols works for Illinois Ageoptions. He says it’s not only about identity theft.  Some businesses are using misleading language to sell their products. For example,  businesses advertise that they are an “affordable health exchange.” That language implies they are part of the state-run marketplace, even though the real Illinois Insurance marketplace won’t open until October 1, 2013.

Echols says some companies are also offering “discount medical plans.”  These discount plans aren’t actually insurance, and they often confuse people who are looking to be insured before it becomes mandatory under the Affordable Care Act.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office says they’ve not received reports of Affordable Care Act-related scams yet, but are keeping a close eye on the issue. 

Shannon Heffernan is a WBEZ reporter. Follow her @shannon_h.