Open enrollment season is that time of year when many Americans can enroll in or change their health care plans. It's also becoming open season on consumers, who are increasingly targeted by spoofers and robocallers posing as insurers pedaling bogus plans.
With the season well underway, HealthCare.gov subscribers, federal government employees and many other Americans are evaluating their options for the coming year, and they're not the only ones keeping busy. A recent article in the Washington Post cites "epidemic levels" of robocalls on open enrollment. Many calls are coming in with spoofed caller ID simulating local area codes or appearing to be legitimate health care providers, according to the Post article. Recently, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama warned its customers about a nationwide robocall scam, in which the callers are claiming to be with the insurance company.
A few tips to help you avoid becoming a target of an open enrollment scam:
- Don't answer calls from numbers that appear to be local when you aren't sure who's calling.
- If you do answer the phone, but you become suspicious that the call isn't legitimate, don't hang on, just hang up.
- If you receive an unsolicited call from someone pressuring you to act immediately, 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 an official 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 robocalls and caller ID spoofing, visit fcc.gov/robocalls.
The FCC receives consumer complaints about health insurance robocalls throughout the year. If you think that you are a victim of fraud related to a robocall or caller ID spoofing, you should first contact law enforcement to report the scam. You can also file a complaint with the FCC at no cost. Read the FCC Complaint Center FAQ to learn more about the FCC's informal complaint process, including how to file a complaint, and what happens after a complaint is filed.