Scammers prey on Obamacare confusion

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The clock is ticking for upcoming changes in the nation's healthcare system. The government will launch a major part of Obamacare, the new health insurance exchange, October 1.

These exchanges will provide access to a new type of tax credit to help middle to lower-income individuals pay for coverage, but many do not know how to get started.

And scammers are cashing in on this confusion.

Some of the most recent scams include e-mails saying consumers could go to jail if they do not obtain health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, phone calls from telemarketers saying citizens need to confirm personal information to send them a new Obamacare card, and door-to-door visits by someone asking for an enrollment fee to sign up for coverage under the law.

But none of these claims are valid. The healthcare law will not imprison citizens for not getting coverage, they do not need new Obamacare cards, and no enrollment fee is required to participate.

The scammer's goal is to steal your medical identity, which includes addresses, Social Security numbers, and medical histories. Access to this information allows them to obtain medical care, buy prescription drugs, submit fraudulent insurance claims, and cause other financial calamity.

The Federal Trade Commission, AARP and are some of the latest consumer watchdog and advocacy groups to issue warnings about this scam outbreak.

The Arkansas Health Connector website said the best ways to fend off scammers are for citizens to not give any personal information to anyone who does not have official identification and educate themselves about health care exchanges.

For more information about health insurance exchanges, visit the Arkansas Health Connector website. To see if you qualify for lower health care costs, visit the federal government's healthcare website.

Copyright 2013 KAIT. All rights reserved.