Health insurance continues to change, and that can confuse consumers. Unfortunately, scammers will exploit that confusion.

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office and the Iowa Insurance Division remind Iowans to “double check” before they sign up for health insurance. Research your options by finding a licensed agent at doublecheck.iowa.gov.

Iowans planning to sign up for an Affordable Care Act plan must act quickly. The open enrollment period ends Dec. 15 for Iowans purchasing or changing their ACA individual health coverage to become effective Jan. 1, 2019.

You can find local help with ACA coverage options by visiting localhelp.HealthCare.gov.

Watch out for enrollment scams

Criminals may attempt to steal personal or financial information under the guise of establishing or “confirming” a health care plan on behalf of the government or a company, or by offering free medical supplies or exams in exchange for your information.

YouMail, a company that tracks robocalls, has reported calls from Iowa area codes that are likely health enrollment scams.

One call claims “that your current health insurance plan was no longer being offered.” Another says: “You may qualify for this new state regulated plan which could pay for all of your final expenses. Even if you had past medical conditions or have been turned down before. I just need to confirm that you’re between the ages of 45 and 80.”

You have more options; check before buying

Iowans do have new health care options for next year. The Iowa Legislature and the federal government have provided a few more health coverage options in addition to ACA-compliant coverage for Iowans. That includes a non-insurance health benefit plan sponsored by the Iowa Farm Bureau, and changes that allow business owners to form Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements and Association Health Plans. Go to doublecheck.iowa.gov to find licensed agents to discover your options.

Signing up for Medicare

Medicare open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug coverage (Part D) ends Dec. 7. If you miss the deadline and didn’t experience a qualifying event, you can apply during general enrollment (Jan. 1 through March 31 of each year), though you will have to pay a premium penalty.

Medicare employees will not call you and ask for your Medicare number, Social Security number, or personal financial information. Anyone who calls and claims that they represent Medicare and asks for this information is not legitimate. Hang up the phone and contact Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE.

Be wary of anyone who calls and claims that you will lose your Medicare coverage if you don’t join their prescription plan. The Medicare prescription drug plan, also known as Medicare Part D, is voluntary and does not affect your Medicare Part A and B coverage.

How to file a complaint

The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is a part of the Iowa Fraud Fighters team, in a partnership with the Iowa Insurance Division, the Iowa Department on Aging, and SHIIP, which provides Iowans resources about insurance scams and investment frauds at iowafraudfighters.gov. If you think you were targeted or victimized by an insurance scam or investment fraud, contact the Iowa Fraud Fighters team through the website or by phone at 877-955-1212.

As always, report scams to your local law enforcement agency or the Iowa Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. To file a complaint, call 888-777-4590.

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