August 12,2013

Press Contact:

Julia Lawless, Antonia Ferrier, 202.224.4515

ObamaCare Fraud at the American People’s Expense

“There are people licking their chops and saying, ‘A sucker is born every minute,’”…“We can have a real disaster on our hands…”Opportunity to rip people off.”

Between ingenious scam artists and insufficient training and oversight of ObamaCare’s community organizer “Navigators”- who’ll sign people up for ObamaCare mandated insurance starting on October 1 - millions of Americans from almost every state could be taken for a ride by fraudsters or have their personal information, such as credit card details and Social Security numbers, stolen. 

  • Fraudsters are poised to take advantage of widespread confusion over the Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — to steal Americans’ credit cards, Social Security numbers and other personal information, consumer advocates and government officials say.  “This is the huge, new government program. There’s no doubt in my mind that the fraudsters view it as an opportunity to rip people off,” said Lois Greisman, associate director for the Federal Trade Commission’s division of marketing practices.  (McClatchy, July 14th)
  •  Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, worries states aren't doing enough to prevent online fraud when it comes to their exchange websites. She believes fraudsters and identity thieves are already gearing up to exploit the confusion around enrollment season. "We've already noticed in paid searches there are websites coming up that have nothing to do with Obamacare," she said. (CNBC, July 22)
  • "The closer we get to registration in October, the greater the odds that the con artists are going to be looking for weaknesses in the emergent new systems and they will be probing. And you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be some fresh and interesting new scams," said James Quiggle, spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a nonprofit based in Washington.  (Appeal Democrat, July 11)
  • As California prepares to launch its health care exchange, consumer groups are worried the uninsured could fall victim to fraud, identity theft or other crimes at the hands of some of the very people who are supposed to help them enroll.  But the state insurance commissioner and anti-fraud groups say the exchange is falling short in ensuring that the people hired as counselors are adequately screened and monitored.  (Associated Press, July 14)
  • Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones also said the exchange does not have a plan for investigating any complaints that might arise once the counselors start work. That means consumers who might fall prey to bogus health care products, identity theft and other abuses will have a hard time seeking justice if unscrupulous counselors get hold of their Social Security number, bank accounts, health records or other private information, he said.  "We can have a real disaster on our hands," Jones, a Democrat, said in an interview.  (Associated Press, July 14)
  • Information on becoming a navigator is available online through California Health Benefit Advisors.  It explains navigators will be paid $58 per application and $25 for annual renewals.  For a few bad apples, there's incentive for fraud and identity theft. "That's all it takes is a couple of those folks who can really do damage to someone's financial or health care information," Kincaid said. (KION, July 30)
  •  Elizabeth Abbott, director of administrative advocacy for the consumer group Health Access California, puts it more bluntly. “There are people licking their chops and saying, ‘A sucker is born every minute,’” she says. (Time, August 8)
  • The national health reform law is expected to open the door for identity theft and insurance scams when millions of uninsured Americans begin enrolling in coverage this fall, officials and advocates warn. The Federal Trade Commission said dozens of consumers have reported fraud since last summer's Supreme Court ruling upholding the law, and officials predict widespread abuse when enrollment begins in October.  (Orlando Sentinel, July 25)