Health Plan Scams: How to Dodge, Escape and Fight Back

Many Americans cannot afford health insurance in the current economy. Even more alarming is the rapidly rising number of fake health plans, seeking to take advantage of desperate people.

The scams' modus operandi is simple: Create a bogus health plan which is enticing and "affordable" enough for the uninsured to take the bait. They use the plan, creating medical bills, and then find out they not only lost money paying premiums on a worthless plan, but they still have to pay the medical bills which they thought would be covered.  

Many scammers have taken advantage of modern technologies in luring their victims, some advertising on television, and using e-mails and faxes. They capitalize on their potential victims' inadequate knowledge, and exploit the widespread confusion on healthcare reform.

The only way to outsmart these health plan scammers is by becoming equipped with knowledge, understanding – and vigilance.

How the Plans Work and Signs to Watch for

A full insurance coverage for a very low price? Some things actually are too good to be true, especially when well-practiced scammers use a strong sales pitch and lots of hype. If these initial signs do not raise red flags, maybe the cheap plastic or paper membership cards will. While some "fake" health plans do include minimal discounts or benefits, these prove to be practically useless and never amount anywhere close to the premiums paid by the victims.

Here are some of the signs everyone should keep in mind to avoid becoming a victim of health plan scams:

The Effects of Scams

Apart from unwillingly funding the crimes of scammers, victims are hurt by fake health plans in several ways. One is financially, as paying for medical bills after losing money on fake policies multiplies the victim's losses. Since the main reason why victims often fall into these traps is their lack of financial capability, the problems tend to worsen as savings run dry and debts accumulate. The worst effect of these scams, however, is when victims or their beneficiaries endanger their health without any insurance or savings to rely on.  

Fighting Back Against Fraudsters

The best way to fight health plan scammers is by protecting oneself. To prevent scammers from victimizing more people, scrutinize every document and every word from an agent you feel is suspicious. Never give out critical financial information before signing a contract. Perform a thorough background check on the insurance provider. This includes seeking information from third-party sites and reviews from existing clients. Go a step further and verify whether the products or services being offered are licensed with the state.

Discussing concerns with a trusted agent is also recommended, as they have the background and networks to help verify legitimate health plan providers.

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