Health Insurance Scam

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COLUMBIA - A possible scam could be targeting people using the Affordable Care Act Marketplace to sign up for health care insurance. 

KOMU 8 News spoke with Columbia resident Sandra Hyde, who has had health care insurance through the Affordable Care Act since 2013. 

Hyde received a phone message at the beginning of January from someone claiming to be from the marketplace, where she had signed up for health care insurance in the past. 

The person in the message told Hyde she needed to update her information in order to enroll for health care in 2017. When Hyde called the person back they asked lots of questions.

"They asked my social security number, my birth date, my children, my home address, my income, my place of work; so they've got a lot of vital information now," Hyde said.

When the person said Hyde was no longer qualified, Hyde went to go see a health care insurance navigator in Columbia to see what went wrong. The navigator told her that her information had not been updated, and there was no record of the call. 

"My concern is that where is that information," Hyde said.

Federal health care insurance navigator Christy Stretz said the marketplace doesn't contact people over the phone, She said if anything it would send an email update.  

"The marketplace is not going to call you and ask you for that information," Stretz said. "They just don't do that." 

Stretz also said the marketplace always keeps a record of any contact it has with customers.

"That's a little bit iffy, because if you call the marketplace and update your information it doesn't always update immediately, but they should have record of the call," Stretz said. 

Hyde said the person who contacted her also asked questions that had never been asked of her before, like information about her son, who uses her home address as a permanent address but doesn't live with her. 

"I asked them about that, I said "then why are you asking about my son,'" she said. "He said, 'well we need to list everybody that shows up as in the household.' I explained to him that he does not live in the household he just uses this as a mailing address. But that was the one thing in hindsight that was a red flag." 

Hyde said the insurance navigator she spoke with told her the best way to handle a situation like hers.

"What you need to do is take their name down, say thank you, I'll call back the marketplace and I will update that; and now I've got the correct number to call to update if they need to," Hyde said. "That's the safest way to do that."

The best number to reach is the HealthCare.gov call center, at 1-800-318-2596.  

The deadline to enroll in the marketplace is Jan. 31.

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