Open enrollment season is when many Americans enroll in or change their health care plans. For scammers though, it may also be open season on consumers.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has re-opened HealthCare.gov for a "Special Enrollment Period," which began this year on February 15 and concludes August 15, 2021. Scammers will also use this opportunity to pitch bogus health plans or steal personal information from consumers.
According to the Better Business Bureau, scammers may call claiming they can enroll you in a health care plan that's less expensive than the one you have but provides all the same services. Other callers may try to bully you into re-enrollment by claiming your Medicare account will be discontinued if you don't.
While Healthcare.gov does provide assistance with enrollment, its staff – known as "navigators" and "assisters" – will not require payment or call you out of the blue. You make the initial contact, and if anyone attempts to charge you money, it's a scam.
Blue Cross Blue Shield is warning consumers about scammers who use spoofing techniques to make it appear that calls are coming from its national "Call Blue" customer-service number (888-630-2583). The toll-free number can only receive calls, not initiate them. If a consumer's Caller ID displays the "Call Blue" number as an incoming call, it is spoofed and fraudulent.
Open Enrollment Scam Tips
- Don't answer calls from numbers you don't recognize, even if the numbers in your caller ID appear to be local.
- If you do answer the phone, but you become suspicious that the call isn't legitimate, don't hang on, hang up.
- Likewise, if you receive an unsolicited call from someone pressuring you to act immediately, just hang up.
- Contact legitimate health care insurance providers directly using the customer service number on a billing statement or by finding a contact number on the provider's website
- Contact your state insurance commissioner's office to confirm whether an insurance plan is valid. You can also call the customer service number on the plan's official website to speak with a representative for that plan.
- For legitimate information on health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, visit healthcare.gov, and for information on Medicare visit medicare.gov.
- To learn more about how to avoid robocalls and caller ID spoofing scams, visit fcc.gov/robocalls.
What You Can Do
- If you think that you are a victim of a health care enrollment scam, you should first contact law enforcement to report it.
- File a complaint with your state insurance commissioner's office.
- File an identity theft report with the FTC at identitytheft.gov.
- You can also file a complaint about phone scams with the FCC.