f you’re looking online for health insurance, there are lots of results that seem to offer good choices. But dishonest companies are literally banking on your being confused by all those choices. So, before you sign up and pay, take steps to know you’re getting exactly what the plan advertised. Otherwise, your so-called “coverage” can leave you exposed to substandard benefits and costly payments.
The FTC says that’s what happened to customers of Simple Health. The company allegedly tricked consumers into believing its plans offer comprehensive coverage and are compliant with Affordable Care Act (ACA) standards. The company allegedly lured people in through lead-generation sites, using logos of well-known health insurance providers to make itself look credible. Simple Health asked for personal information on the site, followed up with phone calls, and pitched what it said were affordable, comprehensive, ACA-qualified plans with low or no co-pays or deductibles.
But once consumers signed up — often at premiums as high as hundreds of dollars per month — the FTC says they did not get anywhere near the full coverage Simple Health promised, and the benefits were not ACA-qualified.
Here’s how to protect yourself against false healthcare plan promises:
Research the plan to see if it really is insurance. Your state insurance commissioner’s office can tell you if a plan is legitimate and if it’s licensed at naic.org or consumeraction.gov. Also ask the company for the details, in writing, of what you’re buying. If it can’t give you the fine print, walk away.
Be careful when giving out your personal information. A site might look legit, but some might be fronts for criminals waiting to steal your money and personal information.
Consider what others are saying. Do an online search of the company name and the word “complaint.” People’s reviews should give you an idea of the company’s reputation.
Educate yourself. Learn the difference between health insurance and medical discount plans.
And then file a report with the FTC if you know of a company posing as a health insurance provider.