I received the following transcript of an interview with Jennifer Trussell, a Special Agent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of the Inspector General of Department of Health and Human Services talking about fraud in the health care marketplace:
“[Roberta Baskin] I’m Roberta Baskin, Director of Media Communications. And joining me is Jennifer Trussell, Special Agent with our Office of Investigations. Let’s talk about protecting yourself from consumer fraud in the new Health Insurance Marketplace. Jenny, should consumers be worried about fraud?
[Jennifer Trussell] The Affordable Care Act creates the Health Insurance Marketplace – which is a place to buy health insurance. As always, consumers need to be able to shop for health insurance without being defrauded by criminals taking advantage of a new program. Government agencies are working together to prevent and prosecute consumer fraud in the Marketplace. This effort involves the Department of Health and Human Services, the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice, and others. That said, there are things consumers should remember to protect themselves against criminals.
[Roberta Baskin] Give us some examples.
[Jennifer Trussell] Well, consumers should be cautious if they get high pressure solicitations by phone, mail, internet, or in person. Be alert for scam artists who pretend to work for the government. Consumers should be careful to protect their private health care and financial information. People you DID NOT contact should NOT request personal information, like your social security number, bank account, or credit card information. These people may be trying to steal your identity.
[Roberta Baskin] What if someone asks you for money to help you sign up for Marketplace insurance or “Obamacare?”
[Jennifer Trussell] Just say no. You don’t need to pay anyone to help you buy insurance in the Marketplace. Legitimate enrollment assisters won’t ask you for money. If someone asks you to pay for a Marketplace or “Obamacare” insurance card, hang up the phone or walk away. That person may be trying to steal your identity.
[Roberta Baskin] What else should consumers be wary of?
[Jennifer Trussell] First and foremost, remember, if you are a Medicare beneficiary you DO NOT need to buy insurance in the new Health Insurance Marketplace. (pause) And remember that there could be sham websites out there. If you plan to purchase insurance through the Marketplace, visit the website HealthCare.gov; this is the official Marketplace website. And always remember to look for official government seals, logos or website addresses.
[Roberta Baskin] And if you do suspect fraud, what should you do?
[Jennifer Trussell] Please call the Health Insurance Marketplace consumer call center at 1-800-318-2596.
[Roberta Baskin] Say it again.
[Jennifer Trussell] 1-800-318-2596. Roberta, people should do everything they can to protect themselves against identity theft and financial fraud schemes.
[Roberta Baskin] Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing this critical information to help consumers protect themselves against fraud.
[Jennifer Trussell] Thank you, Roberta.”