Beware of scams when buying individual health plans in Washington
If you’re trying to find an individual health plan because you lost your job, beware of scammers. That’s the warning from Washington’s Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. He says right now there are a lot of people desperate to find affordable coverage and they’re easy marks for con artists.
Nearly 100,000 more people are uninsured in the state than before the pandemic, many because they lost their job and employment related coverage. Kreidler says people going online to find a new individual plan will Google “affordable or cheap health insurance.” He said they don’t get sent to the state benefits page where they might qualify for subsidies. Rather, they are often directed to a commercial site where an unscrupulous broker sells them a worthless policy that doesn’t meet requirements under the Affordable Care Act.
“Too many times there’s nothing on paper. They wind up telling the prospective purchaser of health insurance what they want to hear, that it’s a really good deal and it’s going to cover a whole lot,” Kreidler said.
When you read the fine print, he said, you see that the plans cover almost nothing, including pre-existing conditions.
To avoid these traps, Kreidler says to make sure you’re at the state’s official health exchange site wahealthplanfinder.org. Spelling it slightly wrong or using a ".net" or ".com" can lead you astray. The official site is the only place you can receive tax credits, subsidies or low-cost coverage through Medicaid.
Also, you should never be asked to pay to sign up for coverage. Be sure it’s legitimate plan before you share personal information. If you believe you’ve been contacted by a health insurance scam, you can call the Office of the Insurance Commissioner 1-800-562-6900 or go to insurance.wa.gov.