If you have been following my blog for the past couple of weeks you would know that I have been focusing a lot of my attention on the PPACA legislation and the healthcare marketplaces that have been developed on line to service this program especially Healthcare.gov.
So far it has been an incredible bust but boy it makes for great entertainment.
But one thing you need to careful about is where you are looking for these websites and where you are getting your information about them.
Because of my increased activity in searching the web for information on Obamacare and the Healthcare.gov website I have been receiving more and more email pertaining to this subject.
The internet is a magical machine isn't it?
Here's one of many emails that have come directly to my inbox over the past couple of weeks:
Open Enrollment has Begun! 12/07 Deadline - Find Plans!
Medicare Open Enroll (Jb9EsPgcBT@eeXL7VHUA.hideouspiefifth.com)
Medicare Open Enroll (Jb9EsPgcBT@eeXL7VHUA.hideouspiefifth.com) Microsoft SmartScreen classified this message as junk.
Wed 10/30/13 7:44 AM
Open Enrollment has Begun! 12/07 Deadline - Find Plans!
You know what?
Most of these emails are very official looking and are loaded with official looking logos and "highlighted" links virtually "begging" you to click on them for more information.
They contain medical and healthcare information and some are even more sophisticated with buzz words and catch phrased littered among their propaganda.
The links in these emails can be very dangerous.
The email above (like most) have been directed straight into my "junk" file because I am very cautious about my internet travels and I take numerous precautions to prevent any damaging viruses from entering my system.
You should be cautious as well.
Consumers, like us, are mandated (or face a penalty come tax time) to purchase health insurance if they don't have existing coverage.
That puts the fear of God in some people.
The official website, www.healthcare.gov will be used by the majority of the states.
But 17 states have opted to manage their own unique exchange with a different URL.
This has the potential to cause much confusion for consumers.
While it may appear that this information could easily be located via an internet search, my experience has been that the official website is not that easy to locate.
In fact, when I searched for "health insurance exchange official websites" (rather than "website") the websites for the 17 states that have their own unique URLs appeared, but www.healthcare.gov did not appear on the first page.
Many of my internet searches indicate that there are organizations using keywords such as "Obamacare" and "Health insurance exchange" in their paid advertising sections that are not official insurance exchange websites.
While many of these websites may not be scams, my concern is that it will only be a matter of time before imposter websites intent on real consumer harm surface.
Remember, not all imposter websites are created equal.
There are differing levels of harm depending upon the type of imposter website you discover.
1. There are legitimate healthcare businesses (but maybe not the best or most ethical) cutting corners and engaging in misleading tactics to secure new business.
They figure they can get you to their website and you will think you are on an official government/state website.
Although they offer healthcare plans, they are the plans designed and contracted by the companies advertising on this website which are normally special interest groups and private insurance companies.
It's legitimate business, but do you want to insure your healthcare with companies that do business this way?
2. There are outright scam websites, whose intention is to secure personally identifiable information for malicious use.
Yes, I'm talking "identity theft".
And be careful how you enter the web address.
A mistake as simple as entering www.healthcare.com (instead of .gov) will take you to a private internet search company that is not at all related to the government healthcare exchanges you are looking for.
Here's some quick facts about healthcare.com:
- HealthCare.com’s owned website properties, the largest of them being HealthCare.com and HealthInsuranceFinders.com, reaches over 3 million unique visitors per month.
- Their advertiser base includes local health insurance agents, doctors, dentists, treatment facilities, along with national-scale online performance marketers and pharmaceutical advertisers.
- Core product platforms include Brokers Web, the leading health insurance PPC advertising network, and the Care Provider Search network.
- Their network of partner websites includes leading online health websites (including AOL Health, drugstore.com, MedHelp.org, Everyday Health), leading newspaper websites (i.e., The Palm Beach Post, The Miami Herald, Chattanooga Times Free Press, The Olympian) and contextually-relevant consumer websites.
- Founded in 2007, HealthCare.com is fully-funded and profitable.
Well, it's just one of the websites owned by www.healthcare.com.
How about www.healthcare.net?
Enter that web address and you wind up right back at www.healthcare.org which is a subsidiary of www.healthcare .com.
Makes you kind of dizzy, huh?
Maybe you start searching around by typing in www.healthcaremarketplace.com
You are taken to a web page that states:
Welcome to our all-new Marketplace!
With the new health care law, we’re dedicated to helping Americans understand the changes and find the right insurance for them at the most affordable prices.
We are NOT a health insurance provider, but we aim to be one of the largest and most trusted sources for
health insurance quotes and information in the US.
We provide a service by which consumers can apply to receive insurance or discount program quotations from our network of insurance agents, brokers, discount program representatives and other service providers. We seek to provide valuable information that individuals can use to make their own decisions about insurance and discount programs. Once you provide us with the information needed to complete an on-line application, we will attempt to match you with appropriate insurance agents, brokers, discount programs or other companies.
Tucked way down at the bottom of the page is a disclaimer:
Disclaimer: HealthcareMarketplace.com is privately owned and is not owned or operated by the US federal or state government.
Make sure you are on the correct websites and only reply to emails that you know are coming from the correct healthcare insurance exchanges.
This ObamaCare system is confusing enough and so broken right now that you don't want to make it any worse for yourself by signing up for insurance on a bogus website.
Thanks for joining me...................................................