The major portion of Obamacare, the Individual Mandate, is scheduled to go into effect on January 1. It requires all Americans to have some form of government approved health insurance unless they qualify for an exemption.
Unfortunately, the politicians are using this transition to position themselves for the 2014 Mid-Term elections. All the political rhetoric, both pro and con, is confusing many Americans. They do not know what is, and is not required from them.
When there is confusion, the number of con-men and scam artists increases. Already, I have heard about fraudsters calling people to get their private, personal information to send them their “Obamacare Card.”
This is a scam. First off, the term, “Obamacare” is a nickname. It is a term that is used to refer to the Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) by conservatives. When it was coined, “Obamacare” had a negative connotation.
The official title of the law is the Patient’s Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Supporters of the law often shorten it to the Affordable Care Act (A.C.A.)
You need to remember that there is no such thing as “Obamacare” officially. Since “Obamacare” does not officially exist, there is also no such thing as an “Obamacare Card.”
If a stranger asks you for private, personal information so they can send you an “Obamacare Card” you need to hang up immediately or slam the door in their face. It is a sign that you are the target of identity theft.
In this post I want to discuss 3 groups of Americans and what they can expect from Obamacare in 2013. If you are in one of these groups and are asked to do anything else, red flags should start waiving. You need to ask the person why you should provide your personal information. There is a good chance that you have been targeted for identity theft.
In the PPACA a Large Group is defined as a company with 50 or more full-time employers. On July 2, 2013, president Barack Obama announced that the Large Group “Employer Mandate” would be delayed by one year.
Large Groups were required to provide health insurance plans to all full-time employees starting in 2014. However, for varying reasons, (it depends on who you listen to) the Obama Administration has chosen to delay enforcement of this mandate until 2015.
Never-the-less, many Large Groups already provide group health insurance benefits. If yours does, you should see very little changes to the system you have now.
Your benefit election paper-work may look a little different from what you have seen in the past, but there is absolutely no reason for you to be contacted by anyone other than your employer.
If someone contacts you using the title, Navigator, Insurance Broker or In Person Assistor, they may be legitimate but you do not need them (unless you want to use the “Split Health Insurance” strategy. If you do, fill free to listen to the Insurance Broker.)
Navigators, Insurance Brokers and In Person Assistors are specially trained professionals to work with Americans who do not get health insurance benefits at work.
Although there is the chance that other legitimate professionals will be able to offer guidance about Obamacare, if you get your health insurance at work, you do not need them.
If you want to minimize the chances of being the target of identity theft with the Obamacare rollout, make certain that before you give out your personal information, the person with whom you are speaking is associated with your company.
The only exception to that rule is if you are wanting to use the “Split Health Insurance” strategy. If you do, only work with a licensed insurance agent that you trust.
People who are enrolled in Medicare are exempt from the Individual Mandate. They do not have to do anything for 2014.
It is not because the senators who wrote the PPACA ignored them. It is because that any changes to the Medicare system that affected them have already happened.
The rules and benefits for Medicare, Medicare D and Medicare Advantage were changed in 2010 with the PPACA. By 2011 all the changes had begun.
There is nothing new that Medicare enrollees must do in 2013 to prepare for 2014.
However, there is a possibility for some accidental confusion.
Medicare rules forbid insurance brokers from making initial contact with Medicare recipients. The thinking behind the CMS rule, and I concur with it, is that if a senior wants to discuss his/her Medicare portfolio, he/she is responsible to pick up the phone or email a properly certified insurance broker.
As a licensed and certified insurance broker, I am only able to contact Medicare clients if there is already an existing plan that needs service or within 90 days of getting a request from them for me to call them.
(This rule is one of the reasons why I do not make unsolicited phone calls. I am afraid that I could accidentally call someone who is enrolled in Medicare. I do not want to go asking for trouble with the Department of Health and Human Services or the Texas Department of Insurance. I figure that if someone wants my professional help, they will contact me.)
However, there will be an exception in 2013. Supporters of Obamacare are planning to use campaign style techniques. Those include door-to-door canvasing and unsolicited telephone calls.
If you are enrolled in Medicare and get contacted by accident from a Navigator of In-Person Assistor, they are not violating CMS rules. You do not have to be rude to them but you do not need to entertain them either.
Unfortunately, the Annual Open Enrollment for people to change their Medicare Advantage or Medicare D plans occurs during the National Open Enrollment for active employees to enroll in an Obamacare plan.
The timing for both enrollment periods is not ideal. There is too much chance of confusion. However, as the ball-players say, it is what it is. All you can do is make the best of it.
The wisest thing that you can do, if you are contacted by a Navigator or In Person Assistor, is inform them that you are already enrolled in Medicare, wish them a good day, and hang up the phone or close the door. They should move on to someone they can actually help.
Professional insurance brokers should know better than to contact you with cold telephone calls or knock on your door without an appointment. Scammers may not know, or care, about the laws that are there to protect Medicare enrollees.
If you are not the one who initiated a conversation about your Medicare benefits, give no-one your personal information and get rid of the person on the other end of the phone line or outside your door as fast as possible.