Changes to health insurance, ushered in by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), have caused some confusion for consumers and, unfortunately, opened the door for potential scams.
The Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) is advising Michigan residents to be on the lookout for potential identity theft and insurance scams and to safeguard their personal information.
"It is important that Michigan residents know exactly who they are giving their personal information to over the phone or in person," warned DIFS Director Kevin Clinton. "Our office has become aware of a number of different schemes that are attempting to take advantage of the confusion surrounding the ACA. It is important for consumers to remain vigilant to avoid being scammed."
Here are some tips to avoid scams:
- Never provide unsolicited callers with any personal data or account numbers. Government agencies and legitimate organizations with which you do business already have your personal information on file. Unless you initiate the call, you should never be asked for personal information.
- Beware of offers that seem too good to be true they often are. No government representative sells insurance over the phone, door-to-door, or by email. Health plans and insurance licenses can, and should, be verified by calling DIFS toll-free at (877) 999-6442 or on the DIFS website at www.michigan.gov/difs.
- Be aware of look-alike websites posing as an official government agency. In Michigan, the official website to purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace is www.healthcare.gov.
- Do not give anyone personal information who requests your bank account and routing numbers to issue you a new insurance card. There are no insurance cards associated with the ACA and no new Medicare cards are necessary to continue benefits.
If you have been contacted by a suspicious caller seeking your personal information, contact DIFS toll-free at (877) 999-6442 to report the incident. A detailed informational sheet on how to spot a scam is available on the DIFS website, www.michigan.gov/documents/difs/ACA_SCAMs_431586_7.pdf.
For those confused about health insurance, Michigan's Health Insurance Consumer Assistance Program (HICAP) can help. HICAP exists to help Michigan residents with information about health insurance coverage options, learn about their rights under the Affordable Care Act, resolve complaints against insurers, and appeal denials of treatments and services.
Consumers can contact HICAP toll-free at 877-999-6442 or visit www.michigan.gov/hicap.
In Wisconsin, assistance is available through the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance at 1-800- 236-8517 or visit www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/guide/pay/individ.htm.