COLORADO SPRINGS — The coronavirus pandemic has not only had a dramatic health impact but has also delivered a wide-ranging economic blow as many Americans are now unemployed and uninsured. News5 has a look at how the government is trying to deliver healthcare and why experts say people should be on the lookout for more fraud.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has re-opened healthcare.gov for a special enrollment period, running until May 15, but fraud experts are concerned it could open the door for more attacks. This special enrollment period will give people who need healthcare coverage the chance to sign up, but it also gives scammers a new chance to call, email, send letters and texts, trying to get your money, personal and financial information.
Scammers know you have questions about the special enrollment, and they're taking advantage of that to mislead you.
"I know we all have clients who get lots of calls from Medicare and they aren't sure if it's a true carrier, or not, or what the scams are," said Nick Palarino, a licensed insurance broker with Medicare Mentors.
"This is not a program or website that was revitalized. So, you're going to have a lot of unknowns. People are not going to know where to go, where to start. So that being said you're going to have a lot of opportunities, a lot of data that's going out there and a lot of vulnerabilities for consumers," said CSU Global's "Dr. Fraud" J. Michael Skiba.
The good news is, there are many organizations and people who can help you and will do so for free.
"In the senior citizen space you're going to see agencies like AARP have some separate protocols to help guide people. You're going to see a time when small businesses may want to apply for benefits that may have some protocols set forth by your chamber of commerce. So I would try to fall back on the basics and those organizations that are tried and true," said Skiba.
Here are some things to know to help keep your money and personal information safe, while getting the insurance coverage you need...
- No one from the government will call you about health insurance, or ask you to verify your social security number or financial information.
- There are organizations and people who can help you navigate health insurance enrollment for free-- you do not have to pay for this.
- People representing Affordable Care Act plans won't contact you by phone, email, or in person unless you are already enrolled.
To help you track the latest scam trends you can sign up for alerts through the Federal Trade Commission by visiting: https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USFTCCONSUMER/subscriber/new?topic_id=USFTCCONSUMER_8
If you're targeted by one of these calls, emails, or text messages, you can help investigators by reporting that information to the FTC and StopFraudColorado.gov.