Since the rollout of Obamacare health insurance exchanges, a number of scams have popped up and concerns over data privacy and security have increased.
For example, an Obamacare online marketplace in Minnesota called MNsure already experienced a data breach when an employee accidentally emailed an insurance broker a document that had personal information of more than 2,400 insurance agents, CBS News reported. Social Security numbers, names and other identifying information were included in the document.
"The more I thought about it, the more troubled I was," Jim Koester, the recipient of the document, told the Minnesota Star Tribune. "What if this had fallen into the wrong hands? It's scary. If this is happening now, how can clients of MNsure be confident their data is safe?"
Open enrollment for online marketplaces established under the Affordable Care Act began Oct. 1., and 7 million people are expected to use the exchanges to sign up for private insurance plans, CBS News reported. All the information consumers input to these online marketplaces will be routed from a federal database to state-based exchanges. Consumers and health data experts are concerned about the program's ability to keep that information safe.
Some say these data privacy concerns are valid.
As more health information is stored online, and medical records and health care data is digitized, Jim Pyles, an expert in health law who co-founded the law firm Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville, told CBS News the amount of privacy violations will be "incalculable."
The problem with electronic medical data is that it can travel very quickly.
"Once that information's stolen electronically, the information can be copied infinitely and spread everywhere," Pyles said. "It's very, very difficult to stop fraud then."
In addition to data privacy concerns, consumers should also be on the lookout for new scams created since the rollout of the health insurance marketplaces. One scam, for example, involves telling consumers they need to sign up for an Affordable Care Act insurance card to buy coverage. This "sign-up process" requires people to enter their Social Security numbers or bank account numbers, Forbes reported. The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers against signing up.
"The simple fact is there is no Affordable Care card," said Carrie Hurt, president and CEO of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. "It's a scam."
Another scam plays off the new "navigators" role created by the Affordable Care Act. This role was created to help people sign up for health insurance coverage, but fraudsters are calling and emailing people pretending to be legitimate navigators, Forbes reported. These scammers take people's personal information, steal their money or sign them up for phony coverage.
Identity Theft Expert Offers Additional Tips
Adam Levin, chairman and founder of IDentity Theft 911, told ABC in New York scammers are using consumer confusion over Obamacare to steal identities.
"And the best way to be careful is you need be in control, you need to do the vetting," Levin said.
Levin offered some tips for consumers to prevent falling victim to the many scams out there related to Obamacare. Consumers should immediately hang up their phones if they receive a call from someone saying they will help you with Obamacare enrollment, WABC reported. Along with fake navigators calling or emailing consumers, Levin warned Americans not to give any information away to people who show up at their door.
"[T]he idea that a navigator is going to go to your door, it's just not going to work that way," Levin said.
Matt Cullina is chief executive officer of IDentity Theft 911.
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