consumer opt-out alert
beware of false health plans
The District of Columbia Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking (DISB) is warning District consumers to be on guard against fake health plan scams.
Reading: What is false about health insurance
How is the scam perpetrated?
Bogus health plans promise comprehensive coverage, but offer useless or no benefits, leaving you with large medical bills to pay out of pocket. the scam uses various approaches to lure its victims.
- Bogus Benefits: One type of bogus health plan promises full benefits at low prices. will often assure consumers that the plan covers pre-existing conditions, specialists, and other essential benefits, usually at no additional cost.
- Bogus Requirements: There are also bogus health plans that claim that the coverage they offer is required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA, also known as Obamacare) or Medicare.
- bogus policy: Another type of bogus plan involves one that pays little. receive a discount or limited benefit plan that pays little or no costs.
- go slowly. avoid signing up for a plan if you feel pressured to buy quickly or if the price seems too low. remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
- read carefully. review the policy thoroughly before you buy it. have a trusted friend or knowledgeable person review it as well. Does the policy deliver what the sales pitch promises?
- check the associations or unions referred to in the plan. Do you have a website? Is the site vague about its activities?
Other health plan scams may require you to join an association or union to buy coverage; these groups are usually fake.
If you fall for one of these scams, you could have to pay large medical bills when you try to use the bogus policy. you will be forced to pay most or all of your medical bills yourself, which can sometimes run into the tens of thousands of dollars. Finding new health coverage after discovering your plan is bogus can delay urgent medical treatment.
Ways to Avoid Buying a Fake Health Insurance Policy
Is the person trying to sell you the plan a licensed agent? contact disb to make sure the agent is licensed.
If requested online, you may be required to purchase your coverage online. there may be no other way to purchase the policy. the goal is for the scammer to get your credit card. the website will appear to be hosted by a legitimate insurer or be an official aca registration portal. if you are prompted by an email that seems suspicious, do not click on the links in the email. If you are directed to a website, type the web address instead of using links. And remember, search engines are your friends. research the company before visiting the site.
If you are interested in purchasing health coverage, you can contact the District of Columbia Health Benefits Exchange to discuss your options at hbx.dc.gov.
If you think you’ve been the victim of a fake health plan scam or other financial fraud, you can file a report with the federal trade commission (ftc) at reportfraud.ftc.gov or call the consumer response center from the ftc at 877-382-4357. You may also contact DISB’s Division of Consumer Protection and Enforcement at (202) 727-8000.
the mission of the department of insurance, securities and banking (disb) is threefold: (1) cultivate a regulatory environment that protects consumers and attracts and retains financial services businesses in the district; (2) empower and educate residents on financial matters; and (3) provide financing for small businesses in the district.
disb twitter: @dcdisb disb facebook: facebook.com/disbdc