Identifying Fake Health Plans
Fake health plans are spreading across states and are appearing more frequently. With rising health insurance premiums, job layoffs and more people going without health insurance, these fake health plan companies are taking advantage of vulnerabilities. When the fake plans do not pay for medical costs, scammed members are left paying thousands for medical bills. These plans usually feature one or more of the following:
- Stripped-down policies for inadequate coverage.
- Medical discount cards that provide little to no actual discount.
- Full coverage that actually covers nothing.
These scam artists may set up booths near markets. They may appear as door-to-door salespeople, and some scammers may use emails, Internet sites or phone calls to contact potential victims. When they contact people, they create a sense of urgency by saying that there is limited enrollment. Although they target all eligible age groups, seniors are usually their main target group. It is important for everyone to know how these fake plans work and what to do.
Dangers Of Health Plan Scams
Most fake health plans sound too good to be true. They offer full coverage or great discounts for a very small premium. In some cases, doctors may try to bill the companies. Some companies may tell plan members to file their own claims. When it is time to pay up, the company will not cover expenses. This can cost victims their life savings. Also, it poses a danger to a person’s health. When people have to find new coverage or pay upfront for more procedures or doctor visits, important care may be delayed. This can cause existing conditions to worsen.
Signs of A Fake Health Plan
- Invasive sales pitches through email, fax or phone calls.
- Ads stapled to light poles and on public bulletin boards.
- Pushy salespeople who create a sense of urgency about enrolling now.
- Salespeople who ask for personal information and bank account information upfront.
- Salespeople who use terms such as “health care reform” and “Obamacare” during their pitch frequently.
- Deals that seem too good to be true with low premiums, extensive coverage and great discounts.
- Sales representatives who provide evasive or vague answers to important questions.
- Full plan details are unclear or inaccessible until after enrollment.
- Membership requires enrollees to join a special association or a fake union to get coverage.
- Official Internet site looks very convincing, professional and attractive.
- Internet site focuses on selling points but provides no real details.
- Insurance card or policy is slow to arrive after enrollment.
- Payment delays are long enough that medical offices start calling about past-due bills.
- Plan representatives pass off payment delays as glitches or errors.
- Plan representatives say that the plan does not require state licenses due to ERISA or similar exclusions.
Avoiding Fake Health Plans
Never act hastily when signing up for health insurance. Always research a plan and learn the terms before enrolling, and verify that the terms match the sales pitch. This is especially important when the health plan claims to offer full coverage. Do not give a credit card number or bank information to someone over the phone, through email or via a chat message. Verify the plan’s license details, and check consumer reviews for complaints. If membership requires joining a union or association, do some thorough research on it. Does it have an address? How long has it existed? What do people say about it on third-party sites? If it does not have an official site or establishment, beware that it is probably fake. If a health plan claims to be part of a major insurance company, contact the major insurer directly to verify this. Never believe a pitch with an ERISA exclusion. Private health insurance companies are not licensed by the federal government.
By knowing how to spot a fake plan, it is easier to avoid losing savings, time and important health care. To learn more about legitimate health plans, discuss concerns with an agent.