January 6, 2014
The old adage is that no good deed goes unpunished, and it seems the Affordable Care Act is not immune. Bogus ACA websites are sprouting like noxious weeds all over the country.
However, California is bearing the brunt of the load – in fact, 10 counterfeit sites were shut down in one fell swoop last month.
The Biggest Offender
One of the most notable knockoffs is CoveringHealthCareCA. With a web address similar enough to Covered California to cause legitimate confusion, CoveringHealthCareCA is an official-looking proxy designed to present another side of the ACA argument.
At first glance, it’s benign. The landing page features a prominent “Helping You Navigate Federal Health Care Changes” banner. Users can select from several now-familiar options: “I already have health insurance,” “I don’t have health insurance” and “I’m an employer.”
It sounds legit. After all, that’s the way nearly all health care exchanges look at first glance. However, as you delve deeper into the site, it becomes clear that CoveringHealthCareCA offers no way to sign up for health care – instead, its pages inform users about their right to eschew the new mandates and focus on discussing costs and drawbacks rather than actual benefits.
Clicking on the “I don’t have health insurance” link leads users to a page where, instead of helping them to sign up for health care, they are instructed to enter information about their household to calculate their penalty for not enrolling in a qualified plan. Sidebar links to additional information caution young adults that their premiums will subsidize older, sicker Americans and warn senior citizens that their providers may not treat them anymore.
In short, the site does not allow users to sign up for health care. However, recent outcry from ACA proponents has resulted in the CoveringHealthCareCA site linking to the official state exchange.
A Scammer’s Paradise
The CoveringHealthCareCa site is not the only thing to watch out for: This is the Internet, after all, and scams abound. A healthy crop of fake phishing sites have sprung up, designed to mimic the state’s health care exchange and collect personal information in the process. State Attorney General Kamala Harris has issued an official warning about these phony sites and released tips to keep consumers safe.
Avoiding Insurance Fraud Online
- Type your desired site’s web address directly into your browser rather than performing a search for the site.
- Ignore unsolicited emails claiming to help you sign up for health insurance.
- Verify the digital certificate of a site before entering any personal information.
The ACA exists for one reason: to make sure all Americans have access to affordable, quality health care. We want to make sure you understand your options and gain a clear perspective of what the new mandates mean for your family. That’s why we created a comprehensive guide to the health care changes in California.
At Terpening Insurance, we’re always here to help. Contact us today and we’ll do everything we can to make sure you’re not led astray by bogus claims and phony websites. Affordable health care is a right, and we’ll help you get it.