States encounter ObamaCare impostors

Article By Elise Viebeck, TheHill Blog, October 14, 2013

State insurance regulators are encountering sites designed to mimic ObamaCare’s enrollment portal, the online hub where millions of people are meant to purchase healthcare coverage. Attempts at imitating have met with cease-and-desist letters; the sites could confuse consumers seeking to enter ObamaCare’s marketplaces.

In New Hampshire, the insurance commissioner reportedly cracked down on one webpage last week that could have been mistaken for the state’s insurance exchange.

And regulators from Washington, Pennsylvania and Connecticut are warning the health insurance industry against creating sites that might mislead the public.

The healthcare law is expected to prompt fraud attempts similar to those seen in Medicare and other government programs. It’s unclear whether the technical problems plaguing the ObamaCare enrollment portal are increasing the instance of consumer scams.

One classic trick is perpetrated when Medicare beneficiaries receive a call from someone who says they work from the government. The caller then asks for sensitive personal details — such as bank account and Social Security numbers — in the name of presenting the individual with a new Medicare card. Regulators fear that ObamaCare will give rise to similar scams and warn consumers not to release their personal information to unverified callers.

Top administration officials met in September to discuss the potential for abuse, though the government shutdown is inhibiting some anti-fraud actions. “We will be vigilant as always in cracking down on this type of opportunistic fraud,” Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez told CBS News.