The Affordable Care Act: Be Wary of Fraud

heap of dollars with stethoscope

Happy New Year from the Elder Law Update!

I figured the first post of 2014 (can you believe it is 2014?!) should be related to changes we will be seeing in the New Year.

January 1, 2014 marked the implementation of the most significant parts of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (often called “Obamacare”), originally signed into law on March 23, 2010.  Such provisions include guaranteed issue (i.e. you can’t be denied health insurance coverage if you have a pre-existing condition); minimum standards for health insurance policies; an individual mandate requiring every individual to have health insurance; and much more.

While the law does involve Medicare payment system reforms, there was no change to Medicare enrollment or coverage.  This caused some confusion, with seniors (the 65 and older group, generally speaking) wondering whether they needed to do anything differently this year about their Medicare coverage (the answer, of course, is no).  This confusion has opened the door to fraud, as this New York Times articles illustrates:

Con Men Prey on Confusion Over Health Care Act

In one example, marketers are pushing “add-on” policies on seniors, using the guise that the policies are required (which they are not). Some are offering to charge seniors to “navigate” the new insurance marketplace, and others are fooling people into divulging personal and financial information, resulting in identity theft. Medicare fraud is not new, but the Affordable Care Act has provided con artists an easier in, especially when it comes to seniors.

The lesson? Educate yourself and your loved ones about the Act to help you recognize a potential scam – there are many articles and websites available online to walk you through the basics.  Also, never offer personal information to a caller or visitor if you did not initiate the contact. Finally, you might check out this article for more tips:

How to Avoid Obamacare Scams

CAVEAT:  This web site and the information contained herein have been prepared for educational purposes only.  The information on this blog does not constitute legal advice, which would be dependent upon the specific circumstances of a particular case.  In addition, because the law can vary from state to state some information on this site may not be applicable to you.

Image © lenets_tan – Fotolia.com

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About Sarah R. Watchko, Esq.

Sarah R. Watchko is an attorney practicing estate planning and elder law in Atlanta, Georgia

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