Texas consumers are facing a new wave of scams that could leave them exposed to risks
Low-income individuals living in Texas are being targeted by scams that seek to profit off their enrollment in the state’s health insurance exchange, as well as enrollment in HealthCare.gov. Enroll America, a non-profit organization offering free information concerning the enrollment process, has noted that there has been an increase in the sales tactics used to target low-income consumers. The organization suggests that many of these practices could actually be illegal as scammers are charging for services that are meant to be free.
New sales tactics are emerging that take advantage of consumers
Some tactics include individuals making calls to uninsured consumers, aggressively encouraging them to pay for services that assist with the enrollment process. Other tactics include simple signs or flyers directing consumers to websites and offering phone numbers, which also charge a fee for enrollment assistance. Notably, any enrollment assistance being offered is meant to be free, and those charging fees for such services are not backed by any government body.
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Texas navigators help consumers enroll in health insurance exchange
In Texas, the federal government has spent as much as $11 million a year on providing access to health insurance navigators. These navigators are individuals that are regulated by the federal government, offering assistance during the enrollment process for free. Per federal law, they are prohibited from charging any fee for the services they provide. Notably, licensed insurance agents are exempt from this provision of the law, as they are not considered navigators. Insurance industry experts note, however, that agents very rarely charge sign-up fees when providing enrollment assistance as they are paid on commission.
Consumers are warned to be careful of any enrollment services they may come across
With scams becoming more prevalent in Texas, consumers are being warned to be wary. Those receiving calls from organizations claiming to represent the state are being urged to report these calls to the proper authorities, such as the Texas Department of Insurance. Scams could place consumers exposed to significant risks, as the insurance coverage they acquire through these scams may not be legitimate.