Koster and the Missouri Hospital Association are teaming up to bring information to Missourians about scams surrounding the health insurance exchanges that will open Oct. 1.
Koster says he is concerned scammers will see the new system as an opportunity to committ fraud.
Those seeking insurance coverage through the exchange will need to provide personal information to determine which plans are available to them and to sign up for coverage.
MHA President and CEO Herb Kuhn says scammers could try to trick consumers into signing up on fraudulent sites set up to look like insurance exchanges.
Koster and the MHA are offering the following tips to avoid being scammed:
- Beware of people asking for money to enroll you in the Marketplace, "Exchange," or "Obamacare" insurance. Legitimate enrollment assisters will NOT ask for money. Especially be wary of anyone offering to sell Obamacare insurance cards. Scammers could try to sell you an insurance card without enrolling you in an insurance plan.
- Check Credentials. Ask anyone who wants to help you enroll to verify their affiliation. In addition to your licensed insurance agent, there are two new types of licensed assistants who can also help you take the steps necessary to sign up: Certified Application Counselors and Insurance Navigators.
- Certified Application Counselors are part of organizations, such as hospitals, that have been certified by the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
- Insurance Navigators are licensed with the Missouri Department of Insurance, Financial Institutions and Professional Registration (DIFP).
- To learn whether the person assisting you is legitimate, call 1-800-318-2596, the number for the CMS Marketplace assistance. It is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are two Missouri websites that provide legitimate information only - enrollmissouri.org operated by the Missouri Hospital Association and covermissouri.org operated by the Missouri Foundation for Health.
- Don't be swayed by high-pressure visits, mail solicitations, e-mails, and phone calls from people pretending to work for the government. No one should threaten you with legal action if you do not sign up for a plan. Always ask for identification if someone comes to your door.
- Only provide personal information if you initiate the contact. People who contact you seeking personal information may be trying to steal your identity. No one from the government will call or email you to sell you an insurance plan or ask for personal information. Be careful when giving out personal information, such as credit card, banking, or Social Security numbers.
- Communicate directly with the Official Exchange. Unless you are using a licensed insurance agent or assistant, the only way to ensure that your personal data is not going to a scammer is to sign up using the official website at HealthCare.gov or by calling 1-800-318-2596. Avoid sham websites and look for official government seals, logos or website addresses. Look for internet sites with a .gov on the end of the website address.
- Watch for "fake" products. Some scammers will try to sell you a prescription card. These can be phony. Some appear to be real but are only discount cards and not really insurance.