As states and the federal government scramble to meet a fast-approaching deadline to establish health insurance exchanges under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, scammers are hoping to cash in on consumer confusion about the plans, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners warns.
"There are folks taking advantage because they know people are hearing blurbs on TV and radio," says Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, chair of the NAIC's Health Insurance and Managed Care Committee.
"Consumers are not paying a whole lot of attention to it, but just enough where somebody comes along and says 'you've heard about this new health insurance. I am here to make sure you get signed up.' Obviously there is no phone solicitation that is going to occur."
Open enrollment in the new marketplaces begins Oct. 1, but bogus websites that claim to be part of the exchanges have been sprouting online for more than a year. Oftentimes the scammers are looking to sell phony policies or obtain personal information from unwitting consumers, such as Social Security/Medicare ID, credit card, or bank account numbers.