The Latest Obamacare Worry: Scam Websites

California shuts down sites that tried to capitalize on confusion over the healthcare law

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A screen shot taken by officials in the California Attorney General's office show the home page of a now defunct site that imitated the state's official health care exchange.

Buses running up and down the streets of San Francisco are plastered with ads for Covered California, the state’s official health insurance exchange. But a passenger who goes home and visits coveredcalifornia.com on Thursday would be greeted with a blank white page—not because of any website glitches, but because it is one of ten imitation sites that has been shut down by the California Attorney General’s office.

“These websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” state Attorney General Kamala Harris said in a statement. “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites.” Officials from Washington to New Hampshire have been dealing with websites that closely resemble government portals. The Kentucky Attorney General has sent cease and desist letters to similar mimicker websites, and Pennsylvania officials shut down a private “exchange” site brandishing the state’s seal this summer.

In August, TIME reported concerns from consumer advocates who feared that scammers would capitalize on the confusion caused by the Oct. 1 launch of the law’s health insurance exchanges. “There are people licking their chops and saying, ‘A sucker is born every minute,’” said Elizabeth Abbott, director of administrative advocacy for the consumer group Health Access California. Similar problems plagued Massachusetts after the state passed comprehensive health care reform in 2006.

MORE: Obama Fights to Hold the Hill

Insurance purchased through these imitator sites, many of which are run by private health insurance brokers, may not comply with the coverage standards required by the Affordable Care Act, which prevents insurers from rejecting people with preexisting conditions and eliminates the financial cap on covered services.

But the concerns go beyond consumers buying insurance that lacks the full protections afforded by Obamacare. Some sites might sell insurance that only pays for a tiny slice of a patient’s costs or may sell “discount medical plans” that just look like insurance. Others may be run by identity thieves who aren’t selling anything, only using the site as a means of getting people’s personal and financial information.

The official California exchange can be found at coveredca.com.

25 comments
d1stewart
d1stewart

Seriously, it didn't occur to any of these states' IT people or insurance regulators to buy up all the possible obvious domain names that could be used used by scammers? How much intelligence is needed for one regulator in California to think, "Hmm, when we register coveredca.com, perhaps we should also register coveredcalifornia.com, coveredcal.com, calcovered.com, californiacovered.com, etc."? It would cost all of maybe $100 a year for the lot of them, and save untold trouble for residents and the state itself.

fbwilliams69
fbwilliams69

OweBlamerCare is a scam in and of itself.

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

"Your premiums will never go up.

  Your coverage will never go down."

  Would Alex Trebek lie to you?

  Are there fraudulent insurance companies?

  Would they use electronic sabotage to overload our healthcare website?

  Should they be prosecuted?

daridekas
daridekas

It is really sad to see such a serious matter to take such a humiliating turn for the president.

admin2:invetrics

Yoshi
Yoshi

Scams? Of course! Don't leave out the first and largest one.

 "We have to pass it to see what's in it" aka: "We have to jump off the cliff to see what's at the bottom".

If you like the ACA you will absolutely LOVE "immigration reform".

So much incompetence with so many lives at stake, what's the worst that could happen?

 


drudown
drudown

Ugh.

You'd think the "details" of the ACA's roll out are more "news worthy" than the utter lack of production by the GOP Congress.

Aside from using the Filibuster to thwart ANY vote on ANYTHING other than a Big Business agenda and few exceptions, this Congress has been the most unproductive to date by MISUSING the Filibuster more than ALL previous Congress combined. How is THAT not news over the same shopworn, "the ACA's rollout" has not been ideal narrative? Particularly here, when the SAME "do nothing, take more vacation GOP Congress" has spent more effort thwarting the ACA than performing Congressional functions required to fulfill their office.

When does the (once mighty) media cover this "hot lead" regarding the "dead fish" serving K street instead of the People? How about some "hard hitting" journalism on WHERE the ACTUAL SOURCE of funding DONATIONS are originating, i.e., for the "shut down", super-PAC legislation and "no new taxes, ever"?

I mean, gee... GREAT idea proposing more ways for super-PAC donors to corrupt our political system, as if, in the end, this subversion of ordered Liberty is not proof-posiitve of its injurious effects.

"Thy love afar is spite at home." - Emerson

wjsobo1
wjsobo1

Well, for one, it would be nice to have a search engine consumers could trust to screen scam artists. There is only one website

in California to sign up for the health exchange. A company that has any morals at all would direct users to that site only. Don't tell me they cannot do that.  Second, this article confirms the wide spread rampant fraud going on in the health care industry. It's not just the industry it's the scammers using the Industry. The health care over-haul will no doubt weed out some of the fraud. It is going to keep the entire country occupied for many years revealing jaw dropping kickbacks and scams. At least we may have a chance to lower our insurance costs.

SamSmith2
SamSmith2

Umm, I signed up for health care and it saved me $150 a month.  I am male 31, healthy at about 175,000 income. 

Openminded1
Openminded1

Hey libs, the savior does not look to good, you think there is something wrong with the system and his ratings in the world of public opinion are not doing so well/

eagle11772
eagle11772

The Stalinist OBAMACARE should just be abolished.  If they can't do that, then just make it optional for every American citizen.  Why should we have a government gun put to our heads to be forced to buy a product that we don't want ?  How is that moral ?  How about to cut down on pollution, and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, The Obamanaic forces all Americans to buy a horse and buggy ? If it's constitutional for The Obamaniac to force Americans to buy a product that they don't want or need, then it is constitutional for The Obamaniac to force Americans to buy ANYTHING that he wants them too.  John Roberts should be IMPEACHED along with The Obamaniac for the UNCONSTITUTIONAL OBAMACARE.  And he's really so full of himself that he had to plaster his own name on it everywhere ? !  IMPEACH THIS BUM !  THROW STUMBLEBUM JOE IN THERE !  NEXT !

drudown
drudown

@fbwilliams69 

Right! Too bad the old laws fleeced consumers ten times as bad and insurers had no regulation!

drudown
drudown

@CliffordSpencer 

Anyone that intentionally tries to thwart the implementation of Federal law in CA could be prosecuted and citizens of CA are lucky to have both a Government and Judiciary that is committed to protecting its citizens, i.e., unlike many of the states presently "turning down" necessary services, emergency funds, cheaper and more accessible insurance and Medicare expansion…for no Legitimate State interest at all. 

People that "cover the GOP Congress" in the media seem to "forget" that State Action must advance a Legitimate State Interest, it must be rationally related to a Compelling State interest when it touch and concerns a fundamental right: such as Voting, Contraception and Reproductive Rights. Funny, the media once "reported" about, well, 'now elected….can the Tea party govern?'

No.

They admittedly want to destroy the American system of Procedural Due Process and entitlements. In Kuwait? Those entitlements are celebrated as 'great'.

Just not here anymore. The secret-super PACS are NOW bribing the Senate NOT to abolish the Filibuster.

{Come on, kids…it's not too late} 

Incredibly, the (once mighty) media acts as if Gerrymandering is suddenly legal because the GOP did it anyway, not unlike the GOP Congress' "refusal" to "do anything" other than vacation. At what point does the GOP Congress have a DUTY to inform, inter alia, the State of CA of its "intention" to "shut down" the government again because it refuses to COLLECT taxes from Corporations?

Just this: it is, in fact, official malpractice if the Congress does not PASS A REASONABLE BUDGET THAT ENDS SEQUESTRATION AND FUNDS STIMULUS. 

The failure to even "explore" OTHER MEANS of RAISING REVENUE is seemingly committing actionable Treason. 

"Why don't you just pour Lady Liberty a Sam Adams beer made with 'fracking' water and we'll baptize those babies too. We Libertarians have to just accept our lot in life now that Our Ford discarded the Bill of Rights and knows what to do."  - future Replicant 'Americans'

Seriously though…can someone explain why we are injecting cancer-causing chemicals and releasing methane into our drought-limited potable water supplies if that isn't worse than a WMD or "dirty bomb" can someone in the EU or abroad please rub the filth from their eyes?

"All precedents began as justifiable measures." - Julius Caesar 

drudown
drudown

@Yoshi 

The irony is that if the Congress imply performed its prescribed duties under Article I, Section 8…actual immigration reform and border measures to bolster sovereignty would be as easy as placing one's feet on the floor out of bed.

Here, we just see the pre-meditated scene of the half-completed crime against the Constitution but the perpetrators won't flee. So we must listen to bad excuses from those with hands stained red.

With transparency, there is no opening for corruption to roost. What, did the People "lose their fiduciary rights to get the truth" because of the ACA website's glitches? Surely you jest.

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

@Yoshi   

  You prefer the "honesty" of Newt Gingrich?

  Was Elian Gonzales an illegal alien or not?

  Remember when Republicans blistered Attorney-General Janet Reno for enforcing our immigration laws?

  In his book, NEVER AGAIN, Attorney-General John Ashcroft narrated how he ordered the rescue of illegal aliens!

  Our ONLY convicted attorney-general was Nixon's first, John Mitchell!

  Law and order?

  Inoperative!

Openminded1
Openminded1

@SamSmith2 Yea sure, you sound like a add for Obamacare. You get paid to say it lib or are you just a typical democratic liar. If you make 175,000 a year you do not need Obama care, just like me I am covered very nicely and do not need the bs handout.

barneydidit
barneydidit

@Openminded1 "Libs blah blah blah...savior...blah blah blah...tax cuts...blah blah blah..." Time to flip that record over if you're over 40, or put another song on that ipod if you're under 40. You guys putting Romney up for nomination again this time around?

barneydidit
barneydidit

@eagle11772 "It's Unconstitutional!!!" Says the guy who supports the Constitution...whose process was followed exactly in determining that Obamacare was....Constitutional".   Too funny.  

d1stewart
d1stewart

@drudown You're seriously going to say that insurers had no regulation before Obamacare was passed? That's weapons-grade ignorance. Insurance is one of the most heavily regulated businesses there is. Every state has an insurance regulation commission, for every type of insurance from health insurance to auto insurance to freaking extended warranties, and for the salespeople of every type of insurance.

eagle11772
eagle11772

@barneydidit OBAMACARE is OBVIOUSLY unconstitutional.  You cannot constitutionally violate someone's Liberty by forcing them to buy a product.  Numerous courts earlier ruled OBAMACARE unconstitutional.  The fact that ONE MAN, John Roberts, decided to rule, incorrectly, that OBAMACARE is constitutional, does not mean that it was a correct decision.  SCOTUS has often made incorrect rulings in a case, and sometimes, later ruled the opposite to reverse that incorrect ruling.  For example, two incorrect SCOTUS decisions that were later reversed, to correct SCOTUS's own mistakes are Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) and Bowers v. Hardwick (1986).  Similarly, hopefully in the near future, SCOTUS will take up the OBAMACARE debacle again, and Roberts will come to his senses, realize he made a colossal mistake, and reverse is previous incorrect ruling.

drudown
drudown

@d1stewart

Where did I say insurers in the Several States "had no regulation before Obamacare was passed?"  

The only (drudown, I can write this) "weapons-grade ignorance" herein is your straw man-style of polemics. Who doesn't already know what you purport to cite as "evidence" in your dilatory diversion from the threshold issue?

"Insurance... is regulated, Elliot?"

/s/ E.T. 

The threshold issue is much simpler: namely, isn't it true that the ACA's Consumer Protections and Competitive Pricing Component are what ultimately distinguish the ACA from the former status quo? As such, there is NOTHING about insurance being "highly regulated" in the abstract that bears any real relevance to what makes the ACA crucially important to the People and, per the CBO's independent research, to the fiscal well-being of the Nation. In this regard, it is absurd how the (once mighty) media prates on an on about little "Miss Fox's" self-perceived or wholly fabricated plight of (boo hoo) 'not being able to keep her [non-ACA compliant, consumer-protection-less] "former policy", as if, in the end, that should, what, "outweigh" the TRILLIONS in savings to the Nation over the next 150 years?

(***assuming the People in the United States are "fracked" to death in 150 years if it goes forward as Bin Laden's promised genocide was seemingly planned***)

You'd think the (once mighty) media would be (enter Ron Burgundy voice) "shocked, offended and hurt" that "fracking" POISONS the People's potable water supply…but no…it's allegedly the President's approval rating taking "boos".

I see.

Is this our contrived opportunity to say "noooooo! we would 'rather have' Health Care WITHOUT a competitive pricing component and WITHOUT consumer protections that prevent the SAME insurance companies "polluting" our media machine from DENYING coverage based on pre-existing conditions"?

How's this.

Maybe it is time to "forget the ACA rollout glitches" and so some actual JOURNALISM on how the GOP Congress' FILIBUSTER MISUSE has THWARTED the Founding Fathers' Appointment Power delineated in the Constitution…you know, reposed in the Executive branch on BEHALF of the PEOPLE? Can we agree on that?

Next, how the GOP PLANS ON USING SAME to PREVENT a mere expression of DEMOCRACY to keep our State SOLVENT and STRONG as our Founding Fathers' Constitution requires?

Life may given to us, but we earn respect by performing our solemn duty in office.

Enough of the GOP puppeteer trying to strangle Democracy with Filibuster wires.

Tell me, WHAT EXACTLY IS THERE TO FEAR by allowing FUNCTIONS of our very Government to reach the Floor as Justice REQUIRES, i.e., as EVERYONE in the media must know as we approach the end of the year?

"True nobility is exempt from fear." - Shakespeare, 'Henry VI

eagle11772
eagle11772

@CliffordSpencer  The U.S. Constitution gives the power to government officials to collect taxes, lead troops, and other things the U.S. Constitution specifically authorizes. It does NOT give government officials the power to force citizens to buy a particular product or service.  Suppose these same idiot Democraps who rammed OBAMACARE down the throats of unwilling Americans decided that to help reduce pollution, and save gasoline passed a federal law requiring ALL Americans to purchase a horse and buggy ?  Would you think that is perfectly constitutional also ?  What about requiring you to by 30 gallons of whisky a year for "health reasons" ?  Is there then ANYTHING that congress could NOT require a citizen to purchase ?  OBAMACARE is clearly unconstitutional, and has proven to be an unmitigated disaster since DAY ONE.  OBAMACARE should be repealed in it's entirety ASAP, and The Obamaniac IMPEACHED for LYING to the American people and Congress for repeatedly promising that you could keep your own health insurance and your own doctor under OBAMACARE.  He LIED.

CliffordSpencer
CliffordSpencer

@eagle11772 @barneydidit ,

  Does the government force you to pay taxes?

  Did President Washington lead federal troops, across state lines, to crush the Whiskey Rebellion?

  Was he a patriot or a dictator?

  The American people elected him.

  Who elected you?


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