Obamacare Scams Cause Financial Trouble For Those Already Struggling

If you are struggling to make ends meet in today's tough economic times, you are not alone. While many Americans felt relieved at the prospect of free or affordable health care, after the Affordable Care Act was approved, many are experiencing unanticipated financial consequences.

According to TIME U.S., the California attorney general's office is busy shutting down websites set up to fraudulently imitate the state of California's official health insurance exchange program, called "Covered California." At least 10 sites have been shut down to date, and more are expected to follow as the investigation into related scams and fraudulent activity continues.

For those who are the victim of financial-related scams, providing personal information can lead to serious financial consequences. It is not uncommon for those who have lost substantial amounts of money at the hands of scammers to face serious financial troubles. These issues can even lead victims to consider filing for bankruptcy.

A representative from Health Access California, a consumer advocacy group, explained that scammers were eager to capitalize off the confusion many experienced during the launch of the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchange website on October 1, 2013. Concerns were anticipated months before the website's launch, predicted in part due to similar issues experienced after the state of Massachusetts passed comprehensive state health care reform in 2006.

According to TIME's report, officials in several other states, including Washington, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, are experiencing similar fraud issues related to the passage of Obamacare. The websites considered to be involved in the California scams imitate the look of the official website provided by the state of California, mimicking the site. The various scams harm residents in different ways:

  • Some are run by private insurance brokers, seeking to enroll residents into plans that are not compliant with the standards required by the Affordable Care Act.
  • Some sell discount medical plans that are not insurance plans, but purport to be.
  • Some are run by identity thieves seeking personal information, and financial information, while not providing an insurance-related product of any kind.

News 10 NBC, out of Sacramento, California, warns individuals of the potential scams, and provides tips for avoiding the fraudulent activity, on its website. The advice given includes avoiding any email that claims to be "urgent," or indicates you may face jail time if you do not get health coverage immediately, through a link provided in the email. Additionally, it explains solicitors are reaching people by phone, or by showing up on your doorstep seeking your banking information or Social Security number. You should never provide such important information to someone you don't trust. Those seeking information for the purpose of providing an ACA card are also part of a known scam. There is no such thing as an ACA card. Further, those calling to offer help with enrollment, seeking personal information over the phone may also be involved in fraudulent activity.

While there are some people who are lawfully assisting community members with enrollment, they do not obtain personal information over the phone. The official website, CoveredCA.com, provides information about legitimate community events.

If you believe you have been the victim of a scam, or if you are suffering from financial hardship and are considering bankruptcy as an option, you should contact an experienced attorney to assist you. Legal counsel can help you navigate what would otherwise be a difficult, confusing, and emotionally taxing experience.