Female White-Collar Crime Divas-Mordern Day Thieves
September 12, 2014
by Amy Hebert
Consumer Education Specialist, FTC
Before you sign up and pay any money for health insurance or discount plans, check out all the available options — and any claims they make about coverage. Some people who call you up promoting a way for you to save could be pitching a scam.
Today the FTC announced charges against Partners In Health Careand one of its marketers for tricking people — especially Spanish speakers — who were looking for affordable health insurance into buying worthless medical discount cards.
According to the FTC, many people targeted by the scam were told they were buying a qualified health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Many either had submitted their contact information to lead-generation websites that promised information about getting health insurance, or heard Spanish-language radio ads offering low-cost health plans.
People were assured the “insurance” would pay for doctor and emergency room visits, and other services — regardless of any pre-existing conditions and with small or no deductibles, the FTC says. But despite paying an enrollment fee and monthly payments ranging from $99 to several hundred dollars, the people who signed up were left uninsured.
In a related announcement, defendants in a prescription discount card scheme that targeted older people now are banned from ever selling health care-related benefits or discount programs. Telemarketers working for AFD Medical pushed $299 prescription discount cards that would supposedly give people — who already had Medicare or other insurance — big discounts on prescription drugs. The potential customers were even led to believe that they had to buy the cards to keep getting Medicare, Social Security, or health insurance benefits. But the cards were available for free elsewhere and typically provided no discounts to anyone who already had insurance.
If you’re looking for health insurance, make sure that’s what you’re buying. Your state insurance commissioner’s office can tell you if a plan isn’t insurance — and whether the seller is licensed in your state — and may be able to alert you to a scam. Find your contact atnaic.org or consumeraction.gov. A legitimate medical discount plan can be a way for some people to save money on their health care costs, but no discount plan is a substitute for health insurance.
For more on medical discount plans, read Discount Plan or Health Insurance?
To find out more about buying a qualified health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), visit HealthCare.gov.
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