California Seniors On Medicare, Beware Of Health Exchange Scams Says Sacramento Elder Abuse Attorney

Law Firm Newswire



Sacramento, CA (Law Firm Newswire) November 5, 2013 – Medicare scams get more creative each passing day. The latest anticipated con will likely involve needing information for health care exchanges.

“It never ceases to amaze me how many scams there are perpetrated on America’s seniors. Every day someone comes up with something new, a new angle to take advantage of the elderly. The latest anticipated con to be aware of is callers asking for personal information for the state insurance exchange, brought in October 1, 2013, under the auspices of health care reform,” explained Deborah Barron, of the Barron Law Office in Sacramento, California.

While no one, of any age, should ever give a stranger their personal information or medical details on the phone, this particular scam may suggest to people that they must pay up-front enrollment fees before using a health exchange. Not so. “It really says something not so nice about people who take advantage of seniors that people need to be put on alert for possible scams coming ahead of a major health care change for Americans,” added Barron.

On October 1, 2013, there were millions who became eligible to enroll online at the new state insurance markets. Their coverage would kick into effect at the beginning of next year. With the influx of millions of people, there is a ripe opportunity for identity theft and other scams, with one of the targets being vulnerable seniors.

Despite the fact that the current administration launched a campaign to assure those registering for health insurance that their information would be secure and remain private, the reality is there are phone scammers who will prey on seniors and others. “That’s a fact,” said Barron, “that there will always be those who seek opportunities, such as this, to take advantage of someone and make a profit in the bargain.”

There is a toll-free reporting line for consumers who suspect they have been conned or have had their identity stolen. It is a number that routes to federal call centers: (800-318-2596, TTY 855-889-4325). Even though federal health bureaucrats say Medicaid and Medicare programs do mesh with the health exchange technology, there is always loopholes that do not get identified until later, usually at the expense of someone who can least afford it.

There are other programs being promoted, such as a new computer system that verifies Americans’ identities, which is designed to keep funds from going to criminals, and a massive media educational anti-scam promotion to warn consumers about what cons to be aware of. “Which is nice,” added Barron, “However, one wonders about questionable security in sending, online, such information as proof of income, social security numbers and dates of birth. That’s just opening a door for trouble without knowing if there is enough protection in place to keep the data secure.”

It is not just online scams that seniors need to be wary of either. It is door-to-door swindlers that tell people they are there to inform them about the new Affordable Care Act changes that can still attempt to pull the wool over someone’s eyes. Even if legitimate people have identification, that does not stop crooks from making fake ID.

Abuse comes in many forms. Identity theft and other scams to divert funds from needy seniors is just the tip of the iceberg.

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