Anticipation of the healthcare roll-out tomorrow, October 1, 2013, has sparked heated debate and concern over costs, employer rescission of benefits, and questions about the Health Insurance Marketplace. One question, raised by the FTC and other stakeholders, remains to be fully addressed: What security measures will be put in place to protect Marketplace consumers from identity theft?
The new Health Insurance Marketplace allows you to fill out an application and see all the health plans available in your area. While all insurance plans are offered by private companies, the Marketplace is run by either your state or the federal government. As designed, consumers create an account online or over the phone with a “navigator.” Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the government is training additional customer service professionals to help consumers “navigate” the Health Insurance Marketplace. To create an account, participants must provide their personal data such as household size, income, passport, address, and potentially a social security number for every member of the household that needs coverage.
What measures are being taken to dispose of information gathered by customer service professionals? What safeguards are in place to prevent identity theft? Scammers are already calling consumers and pretending to be navigators to gather their personal information. How will consumers know the difference?
How to protect yourself in the interim:
- Do not give personal information to cold calls or emails from navigators or others representing themselves as part of the Marketplace.
- If you call-in or seek help in person, ask navigators what the internal policy is on handling your personal information.
- Share the least amount of information necessary when shopping for health plans.
For more information about the healthcare roll out visit healthcare.gov
Update October 1, 2013: The government has released the following on avoiding consumer fraud http://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/consumer-alerts/alerts/marketplace.asp