Minnesota Department of Commerce and MNsure, Minnesota’s official health insurance marketplace, are issuing a joint public service announcement alerting consumers to be aware of scams targeting Minnesotans who are no longer eligible for Medical Assistance (Minnesota’s Medicaid program).
This alert is specifically for Minnesotans who submitted their Medical Assistance renewal paperwork, found out they do not qualify for the program, and need to find new health insurance. When trying to buy health insurance, they may be vulnerable to scams from someone pretending to be MNsure that sells them a bogus insurance product. In some cases, scammers have taken money from consumers by saying they must pay for help enrolling in a plan or asking them to pay for premiums up front over the phone.
“Consumers should be on the alert for health insurance scams, including people claiming to represent MNsure who are not legitimate. MNsure.org is the safest place for consumers to shop for and buy health insurance with confidence or connect with a trusted, MNsure-certified assister for free application and enrollment help,” said CEO Libby Caulum.
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James and Acting Department of Health (DOH) Commissioner Dr. James McDonald today warned New Yorkers about a new scam targeting New Yorkers enrolled in public health insurance programs and provided important tips to protect consumers. For the first time since March 2020, people enrolled in Medicaid, Child Health Plus and the Essential Plan will have to renew their health insurance coverage. Attorney General James and Acting Commissioner Dr. McDonald are urging New Yorkers to be vigilant in light of reports of scammers deceptively calling people and asking them to pay hundreds of dollars to maintain their health insurance.
“It is despicable that scammers are trying to exploit New Yorkers’ need for quality health insurance and uncertainty over ongoing Medicaid coverage,” said Attorney General James. “The best tool consumers and families have to combat scams is knowledge, and that is why I am committed to raising this issue. I urge everyone to follow our important tips, and anyone impacted by this scam to contact my office immediately.”
Quick: Run a Google search for "Obamacare" or "Health Insurance" and see what the first listings which come up are. The odds are pretty high that the first listing won't be HealthCare.Gov, Pennie.com, CoveredCA.com or any of the other state-based ACA exchanges. In fact, the first link which comes up probably won't even be for Blue Cross Blue Shield, Molina or Centene (the actual health insurance carriers themselves).
It's far more likely that the most prominent sites to come up in Google's paid search listings will be third-party health insurance brokers. If you click on the link, you may be taken to a legitimate health insurance broker authorized to sell on-exchange ACA policies...or you may be taken to a fly-by-night quasi-legal outfit which either pushes junk plans or simply resells your contact info to fourth-party scammers. In many cases, they may even include the terms "Obamacare" or "ACA" baked into their names:
The court also found that Aliera is a for-profit company and cannot qualify as a health care sharing ministry under state or federal law. The Insurance Department is concerned about potential fraudulent or criminal activity on the part of Aliera. Since the company may be an illegitimate health care sharing ministry, consumers should be aware that if they remain in an Aliera product, they may be covered by an unlicensed insurance company.
Unity Healthshare, now known as OneShare Health, was authorized by the court to reach out to Unity members about their options, and consumers who have purchased a Unity/Aliera product should be aware that they may be receiving this communication.
I've written a lot over the past nearly three years about the damage caused to ACA policy enrollment caused by the Trump Administration's slashing of 90% of HealthCare.Gov's marketing, awareness and outreach budgets.
A significant portion of the reduction in ACA exchange enrollment in 2017, 2018 and 2019 can be blamed squarely on this.
That's not just my opinion; it's been supported by detailed analysis as well as the corresponding increase in enrollment on state-based exchanges, which operate their own marketing/outreach budgets.
The following graph compares the two over the first six Open Enrollment Periods. I've had to adjust for the fact that since 2014, several states have switched from state exchanges to the federal one or vice-versa, but even so, the contrast is dramatic and clear: