Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fake Health Insurance Scams

Jewelry maker Beth Wicker suffered from stroke last April. She still in the hospital to get recovered from stroke and told her health insurance policy which was supposed to be paying her bills was fake.

Wicker reported to CBS News correspondent Wyatt Andrews:"That this is scam. The insurance I thought I had doesn't exist." The call to Wicker's cell phone came from Scott Richardson, the top insurance regulator in South Carolina. He said, we wanted them to know they were in a bad deal.

To protect from insurance scam:

One of the largest scams involved an official group called, the American Trade Association which was never licensed to sell insurance. Sometimes customers like Wicker would receive policies from real companies whose names were being used without consent.

In the meantime, David Vladeck at the Federal Trade Commission has cracked down on various scams, where an estimated 100,000 families lost nearly $100 million.

FTC says 3 companies such as Health Care One of Arizona, United Benefits of Tennessee and Consumer Health Benefits in Florida promised their customers major medical insurance. But they gave them medical discount cards.

Investigators says the scammers are targeted middle aged Americans who lost their jobs and their company sponsored health insurance during the recession, not able to pay for insurance on their own and then go on the Internet looking for something different. The basic scam was selling insurance. CBS News agreed to withhold his name, but he worked briefly for a scam operation, before blowing the whistle.

Beth Wicker still owes medical bills of around $17,000 and doesn't have insurance. She often wonders why the scammers aren't in jail. She said "I don't know why somebody can't track them down and shut them down instead of letting them just repeatedly do this over and over.

No investigation so far led to an arrest and the scammers are still out there. So what can consumers do? There are two key things to know. First, don't give in to any sales pitch that pressures you to act now. That's a red flag. Second, health care products like limited liability, mini med, insurance and medical discount cards can be lawful, but they need a license and that can be verified by checking with your state insurance department.

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