What should I look out for to avoid health insurance scams?

These days, the health insurance market can be confusing and difficult to navigate, and many people are concerned about finding affordable coverage. Unfortunately, this provides favorable conditions for those who would lure unsuspecting buyers into scams. More than ever before, it pays to be a cautious consumer and to familiarize oneself with how to tell the difference between legitimate offers and those that are too good to be true.

The main thing to be wary of is unsolicited, overly-aggressive offers and sales pitches. Offers made via phone or email or that demand that you "act now" to claim your coverage should be treated as highly suspect. Similarly, you should never give out personal financial information such as a credit card or bank account numbers to those offering quick and easy health coverage.

Nomenclature can also be a giveaway. Some illegitimate plans will try to trick uninformed consumers by labeling themselves as “Obamacare” plans. This does not mean that they are ACA-qualified plans. In fact, no legitimate, ACA-compliant plans sold through the exchange or through insurers themselves carry "Obamacare" in their names.

On the other hand, not all plans that fall outside the norm are scams. While it is good to look at them with a skeptical eye, there are plenty of non-ACA-qualified plans out there which are perfectly legitimate. This includes things such as short-term health insurance, critical illness plans, and other plans not marketed as individual major medical health insurance. Plans like these have their uses and may even be the best choice in certain situations. If you are considering purchasing one of these plans, just be sure to read the fine print thoroughly.

If you ever feel uncertain and want to make sure that you aren’t about to enter into a shady agreement, call your state insurance department and ask about the company or agent you are dealing with.

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