7 Ways to Avoid Health Insurance Scams


More and more people are being taken in by fraudulent insurance plans. But it doesn't have to happen to you. Here are some ways you can protect yourself.

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It's no secret that health insurance is getting to be more expensive. But as more people lose coverage, a growing number of insurance scams have appeared. From bogus discount plans to policies that vanish overnight, there are more ways to fall victim than ever before.

These schemes work by preying on people's fears, as well as their hopes of finding affordable coverage. But don't be taken in. There are plenty of ways to beat the fraudsters at their own game. Here are the most effective ones.

1. Be skeptical. If prices seem too low or the benefits too generous, it's usually a tip-off something is wrong. Beware of excessive promises. And look out for such gimmicks as "low introductory rates" or "one-time-only" offers. These take you in by starting off cheap. But sometimes your premiums double or even triple after a few months. If that's the case, you may not be able to afford the payments later on. Then you'll lose everything you've paid into the policy without getting any of the benefits.

2. Don't buy online or from a telemarketer. Most scams operate over the phone or via the Web. If you need to buy coverage, find yourself a reputable agent. Look for someone with experience and professional certifications. It takes a bit more effort on your part, but you do end up with better coverage.

3. Ask lots of questions. Scammers and telemarketers like to stick to a script. Any deviation from it throws them off. Just by asking a few questions, you might able to tell whether or not the policy is worth buying. If you're stuck for ideas, try some of the following:

  • How much prescription coverage will I get?
  • How do I cancel the policy?
  • How much hospital care do you cover?
  • What will my co-payments be?
  • Will I have a deductible?

These are basic questions that any legitimate agent can answer. But if a salesperson seems hesitant or tries to change the subject, don't buy.

4. Ask for the list of providers. Most policies come with a list of network doctors and clinics. Legitimate agents usually have no problem showing it to you up front. But if a salesperson doesn't want you to see it, take note. It may be because the list is bogus. They may not want you calling the doctors on it and double-checking. This is a major warning sign and should send you scurrying for the exit.

5. Delay your purchase. Never give in to high-pressure sales tactics. If you're told the offer is only good for today, you should probably cut and run. And don't fall for fear tactics, either. Reputable agents don't use them. Explain you need to time to weigh your options. A legitimate salesperson will understand and be patient with you.

6. Never give out your credit card number. Some predators simply want access to your credit cards. They max out your card, then disappear with the cash. Or they will continue charging on it even after you've tried to cancel. If you find a policy you like, pay with a check. That way, you control the purse strings. If the salesperson insists on plastic, something may not be right.

7. Check with the authorities. Contact your state health insurance board to verify the agent is licensed. If not, ask for a list of those who are. Then call your local Better Business Bureau to see about the company's reputation. Numerous complaints cheap aurogra are a dead giveaway that something is fishy. If that's the case, you'll have to start all over again. Yes, it's more of a hassle. But it certainly beats being taken in.

 

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