We are approaching a very confusing time in healthcare. Some say the healthcare industry hasn’t been shaken up this much since Medicare and Medicaid were started back in the mid-1960s. We have a lot of moving parts all at once: a new way to buy health insurance starting, people signing up for health insurance for the first time, and Medicare plan open enrollment going on. There is and will continue to be a lot of information on tv commercials and on the news, advertisements in the mail and on the radio, news stories in the newspapers and on tv about the good and the bad of Obamacare, and even people calling your home telling you about the changes to the law and what you are now required to do. And with all of this confusion, all of this messaging, unfortunately comes opportunities for fraud.
The Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued an alert this past week about actions that you may encounter that should raise a red flag for you. Some examples are people asking you for money in order to enroll in a health insurance plan through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, people calling you and asking you for personal information when you did not contact that person or company first to request assistance, and websites saying they are selling health insurance on behalf of the health insurance marketplace. Health insurance sold through the Health Insurance Marketplace will be done in only one place online: www.healthcare.gov.
And through all of this confusing Obamacare stuff, Medicare beneficiaries have their annual enrollment period from October 15 through December 7. It is very important that people enrolled in Medicare understand that they are not impacted by the Health Insurance Marketplace and no one should try to sell them insurance sold through the Health Insurance Marketplace.
To hear more about the opportunities for fraud and what people should be doing to protect themselves during this confusing time, listen to a podcast from the OIG’s office.