Consumer Alert

Affordable Care Act Fraud and Scams

Under the Affordable Care Act (or ACA, sometimes called “Obamacare”), Alaskans can now sign up for health insurance through an insurance marketplace, commonly referred to as an “exchange.” Unfortunately, fraudsters will take advantage of the new program by attempting to trick consumers into providing personal or financial information, or purchasing products they do not need.

Tips to Avoid Fraud:

  • Never give your personal, healthcare, or financial information to anyone unless you initiate the contact and know who you are dealing with.
  • The government will not call, text, or email you about your health insurance, or to ask for your social security number or bank information.
  • Watch out for look-alike websites using names or logos designed to make you think you are signing up for healthcare through an official exchange when you are not. The official federal website is www.healthcare.gov, and the official toll-free telephone number is (800) 318-2596.
  • Be wary of anyone who contacts you and offers to help you navigate the healthcare exchange for a fee, or says you will be penalized if you do not sign up for a new insurance card. You can visit localhelp.healthcare.gov to find local organizations authorized to assist you with the healthcare exchange.
  • Anyone who sells, solicits, or negotiates insurance or insurance products in Alaska must be licensed through the State of Alaska, Division of Insurance. Search the Division’s website or contact the Division at (907) 465-2515 to find out if an insurance provider is licensed.
  • If you receive Medicare, do not share your Medicare number, or personal or financial information with anyone who contacts you uninvited. You can contact the State of Alaska, Medicare Information Office at (907) 269-3680 or (800) 478-6065 with any questions related to your benefits.
  • Don’t be fooled into purchasing a medical discount plan, which is different than insurance. You may hear an advertisement offering discounts on health services and products, or you may be contacted by someone attempting to sell you a discount plan that meets the requirements of “Obamacare.” Most medical discount plans are a membership in a “club” that claims to offer reduced prices from certain doctors, certain pharmacies, and on some procedures. Some of these plans are scams that don’t deliver on the medical services promised. If you receive these types of offers, ask questions about the plans and do not pay until you read all of the terms and conditions.

    Under Alaska law, discounts offered under a health discount plan must be specifically authorized by a contract with each provider of the services or supplies listed in conjunction with the plan. The plan must also give you the right to cancel the plan within 30 days after the purchase of the plan and must provide you a full refund of all payments made, except for a nominal processing fee, within 30 days after notification of cancellation of the plan. You should contact the Alaska Division of Insurance if you have a complaint regarding a particular health discount plan or if you believe a plan is not in compliance with Alaska law.

For more information about health care scams, visit the Federal Trade Commission website, and to learn more about the Affordable Care Act in Alaska, visit the Alaska Division of Insurance website.

If you think that a business is engaging in unfair or deceptive conduct, you can file a consumer complaint Alaska Attorney General's Office.

Consumer Protection Unit
November 2013