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The front page of USA Today has a headline titled “Health coverage scams spread”. A common theme is that a company offers health insurance for a price that is much lower than what major, well known insurance companies charge. It’s the old “if it looks too good to be true…” scam all over again.
In the US, health insurance is an area especially ripe for scammers as a recent health care reform bill was passed and there is a lot of confusion about it. According to CBS News http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20002339-503544.html even the people who voted for the bill don’t know how it affects them! Confusion is the friend of the scammer.
Not surprising, there are ads on the internet for bogus health insurance. To protect yourself, you really need to do your homework and be skeptical. I searched for health insurance and one of the paid advertisements said “Health Insurance – $25/mo”. Sound tempting? The fact is that either the insurance won’t cover much, or it is simply a fraudulent ad. I’m not giving them my money to find out. I did click on the link however, and found something interesting. In addition to their boasting how they can help they had the following linked image…
So I clicked on that and guess what? The article doesn’t actually mention the company at all. It is so easy for a company to put references up on a web page, but that doesn’t mean that the references are valid.
If you are relying upon something like a Better Business Bureau recommendation, or "As seen on whatever", etc., then you need to verify that it isn’t simply talk.
To protect yourself against health care fraud in the US, you need to check with organizations in the state you live in. Each state regulates health insurance companies and so you need to find out what organization in your state monitors complaints. For the most part, remembering that if it looks too good to be true, it probably is, will protect you against this and many other types of fraud.
Director of Technical Education
Author ESET Research, ESET