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Recently, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius warned state and local officials about scams involving phony health insurance policies. It seems that scammers were going door to door, claiming that there was a limited open-enrollment period in which to buy health insurance before the reform law went into effect, and fined people for not having insurance.

Actually, the law’s biggest effects don’t begin until 2014, when new “health insurance marketplaces” will start operation and federal tax credits are scheduled to reach millions of families and individuals. At the same time, Medicaid will be expanded and health insurers will no longer be able to turn people down on account of medical problems.

“Unfortunately, scam artists and criminals may be using the passage of these historic reforms as an opportunity to confuse and defraud the public,” Sebelius wrote in a letter to state insurance commissioners and attorneys general. She urged “vigorous prosecution” of anyone caught selling fraudulent policies.

As the bumper sticker says: “Don’t steal. The government hates competition.

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