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Scammers taking advantage of healthcare system

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Scam sites try to mimic legitimate government sites

 Scammers are using the new health-insurance system “as an opportunity to try to collect consumers’ personal information or to make false claims,” Gov. Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway are warning consumers.

Conway’s office sent civil investigative subpoenas and cease-and-desist orders to the operators of two websites that had brought complaints from consumers to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which oversees Kynect, the state’s health-insurance marketplace. Scam sites try to mimic legitimate government sites, the officials said. People who register on the sites have reported getting telephone calls as a result. That is not the way the secure, state-operated website works. Its web address is Kynect.ky.gov; beware of sites ending in .com or .net, Conway advised.

“If something seems suspicious, do not share your personal information, and if you suspect fraud, report it immediately,” Conway said. He also warned Kentuckians to be on guard for attempts by identity thieves to collect personal or financial information by email, phone or mail.

Scammers may also try to sell bogus “discount medical plans” or mislead older consumers on Medicare by making false claims that Medicare coverage is affected by the new law, Conway said. It is not, but the annual Medicare re-enrollment period runs through Dec. 7, perhaps creating confusion.

“It’s appalling to think there are individuals out there who would prey on Kentuckians during this process,” Beshear said. “Everyone should be on guard and report any questionable websites or businesses. There is a lot of misinformation on the Affordable Care Act, which is why we have qualified staff who can answer questions and point consumers in the right direction.” The attorney general’s Office of Consumer Protection offered these tips:

• Make sure you’re working with a registered insurance agent or certified Kynector. Only legitimate insurance agents and government-contracted assisters, called “kynectors,” are authorized to assist Kentuckians with signing up for health care. A list of approved agents and kynectors maintained by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services can be found online or by calling 1-855-459-6328.

• Protect your personal information. Only a registered insurance agent, a certified Kynector, or customer-service representative at a contact center should ask for your personal information to help you apply. Keep personal and account numbers private to any others who offer assistance. Don’t give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to companies or individuals you didn’t contact. Never give your information to someone whose identity you question.

• Do not pay for help. Insurance agents and Kynectors will not solicit money. There is no charge to use Kynect services with the help of an insurance agent or certified Kynector. If consumers get an offer to register for a fee, they should hang up the phone or walk away.

• Remember that you can only get tax credits through Kynect. Most Kentuckians who buy insurance through Kynect will qualify for tax credits to subsidize their premiums. No one but Kynect can offer these credits, and there is no charge to apply for them.

• Beware of phishing scams online. Consumers should be cautious of any email claiming to be connected to the Affordable Care Act, including any emails claiming to be affiliated with kynect and asking for personal information.

• Ask questions. Don’t sign anything you don’t fully understand, and verify the answers you get with trained kynect representatives. 

If people think their personal information may have been compromised, they can visit www.ag.ky.gov, the attorney general’s website, which has an identity-theft toolkit.