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    Health leaders warn of insurance scams as Affordable Care Act deadline nears

    Area health leaders are warning people to be on the lookout for potential insurance scams as the deadline for signing up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act approaches Monday.

    With time running out, some outreach groups have organized phone banks, with volunteers calling people, to remind them about the deadline and offer additional online and in-person resources. But never do volunteers ever ask for personal information (besides name), let alone insurance account numbers or premium payments.

    The Delaware insurance department recently received one report of someone making a call, claiming to represent the Affordable Care Act and attempting to collect premium payments by phone. When the person who answered asked for more information, the caller hung up.

    “I don’t want to make more it than it is, but we thought it was important enough to get a notice out,” said James Grant, Delaware’s coordinator for the health insurance marketplace.

    No other party should be involved in any transaction, Grant warns, besides the consumer and insurance company.

    The department has some tips: never give personal or financial information to people who call unexpectedly, even if they say they’re with the Affordable Care Act. Callers should not be requesting money. Customer service representatives who are legitimate will say they’re with the marketplace, provide a full name and agent ID number.

    Not to be confused with any other sites, the official Affordable Care Act website is www.HealthCare.gov. Delaware has an additional site, www.ChooseHealthDE.com.

    While Delaware officials have only received one complaint, they see potential for scams to become more frequent as the March 31 deadline nears. Pennsylvania insurance leaders agree, though they’ve not received any formal complaints thus far.

    “It is a bit like a pick pocket at a parade,” Rosanne Placey, with Pennsylvania’s insurance department, said in an email. “When there are significant changes in the marketplace and consumer confusion is high, that is when the potential for fraud and abuse is also heightened.”

    Bot states encourage people to report incidents to their respective insurance fraud divisions. For Delaware, that’s 1-800-632-5154; More information for Pennsylvania can be found here.

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