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Consumer Alert: Beware of Health Care Reform scams

April 13, 2010

Consumer Alert: Beware of Health Care Reform scams

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, April 13

(ST. PAUL, MN) The Minnesota Department of Commerce is alerting consumers about potential scams that aim to use the recent passage of health care reform to confuse and defraud the public.

Door-to-door campaigns soliciting consumers to buy "Obamacare" insurance policies have been reported in other parts of the country.  While this activity has not been reported in Minnesota, the Department of Commerce wants consumers to understand that no such federal insurance policy exists.  Other scams involve the attempted sale of health plans during a non-existent "limited enrollment" period that is falsely claimed to be a part of the new legislation.  Legitimate health care policies are generally not marketed as "limited-time offers."

"Consumers should be aware of scams that are based on confusion surrounding the federal health care legislation," said Deputy Commerce Commissioner Manny Munson-Regala.  "Don't be pressured to buy an insurance policy or other financial product that you don't understand or from someone who says you must act immediately. Take time to do some research and check out the facts."

The Minnesota Department of Commerce licenses and regulates insurance carriers and producers in the state.  The department also has the authority to investigate complaints and alleged fraud.  Consumers with questions or concerns about health care insurance products can contact the department at (651) 296-2488 or (800) 657-3602 or e-mail at market.assurance@state.mn.us .

The Department of Commerce is working to determine how federal health care reform affects the insurance market in Minnesota.  The department has also created a new page on its web site — www.insurance.mn.gov/healthreform — where useful information about health care reform will be posted as it becomes available.  Included on this page will be information about which provisions of the reform begin in 2010 and which, including the mandate to carry health insurance coverage, don't go into effect until 2014.

In addition, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will be posting new answers daily at www.HealthReform.gov to frequently-asked questions.