State regulators warned consumers Monday to be wary of potential scams seeking to take advantage of the state’s new public health insurance exchange and the lack of familiarity with how it works.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a series of cautions and tips for consumers to protect themselves, particularly by ensuring they are dealing only with the official exchange and certified counselors. The exchange has been set up for people who do not have health insurance.
He warned consumers not to give out personal information to anyone if they can’t verify the person is connected with the state exchange. Certification of counselors can be verified by calling (855) 355-5777.
Also, there are no fees to sign up for health insurance through the exchange, and consumers should not pay anyone for help in selecting an insurance plan. For help, consumers can call or go online to find in-person locations in their area, but be wary of unsolicited offers to help, the state said.
The new exchange, dubbed New York State of Health, went live last Tuesday, enabling New Yorkers to sign up for new individual or family health insurance policies that are designed to be more affordable while meeting consistent coverage standards. The exchange was launched by the state under the federal Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Sixteen health plans are participating in the exchange, including HealthNow New York’s BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Independent Health Association and Excellus BlueCross Blue Shield’s Univera Healthcare.
Enrollment continues through March 31, and consumers can also sign up for Medicaid through the exchange and get a tax credit to help with the premium cost. Medicare plans are not available through the exchange, and Schneiderman noted that it is illegal for anyone to sell an exchange plan to someone who has Medicare.