By Lisa Zamosky
If you’ve paid any attention at all to the news during the past week, you know that the launch of the Affordable Care Act health insurance Marketplace has gotten off to a rocky start.
More than a week after Healthcare.gov opened its doors for business, consumers are still facing technical glitches that block them from selecting a health plan.
But there’s also a credibility glitch with Healthcare.gov.
According to two recent nationwide surveys conducted by HealthPocket.com, a free website that compares and ranks all health insurance plans, Americans have serious concerns about how secure their personal information will be in the government’s data bases once they do sign up.
Most Americans Skeptical
The two surveys conducted by HealthPocket.com questioned Americans about how they feel about two distinct but related issues:
- Do they believe the personal information they provide on Obamacare Exchanges will be safe from hacking and other types of misuse?
- How certain are they that their information would be treated as private and not misused by government agencies?
- 57% expressed doubts about data security on the Exchanges.
- 53% said they did not trust that their personal information would be treated as private and not be inappropriately shared with other government agencies.
- 25% of Americans weren’t even aware that the Exchanges required them to provide personal information, such as social security numbers, income and home addresses.
The Affordable Care Act has spawned new worries about the possibility of fraud and the inappropriate use of sensitive personal information, as the HealthPocket.com surveys show.
Hacking databases and misuse of personal information is always a possibility – on any website. But as the HealthPocket survey points out, the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services has taken steps to reassure the public that data security and privacy on the new health insurance Exchanges are strong. These efforts include a public education campaign to help people avoid scam artists taking advantage of the public’s confusion about the Affordable Care Act.
In fact, these scams, which include calls from criminals tricking consumers into giving personal information or to resetting a password to a bank account, are a bigger threat than database hacking says Kev Coleman, HealthPocket’s head of data and research.
According to the nonprofit organization, TruthinAdvertising.org, several fraudulent health insurance schemes related to Obamacare are already making the rounds. The scams range from fake websites claiming to sell Obamacare health insurance policies for under a month to scam artists trying to get consumers to reveal personal information.
It’s common for callers to claim they are from the federal government.
TruthinAdvertising.org urges consumers to keep in mind that the federal government does not:
- Call, text or e-mail people and ask them for their bank account numbers or to wire money.
- Call, text or e-mail people and ask them for their personal information such as their Social Security number or Medicare ID number to update their accounts.
- Limit the number of people who can apply for health insurance coverage in the new health care Marketplace.
“Do not respond to solicitation by phone or at your door,” Coleman from HealthPocket.com advises. If you have questions about the Affordable Care Act or need assistance signing up for a health plan, go directly to Healthcare.gov for assistance.
And, you can report fraud or attempts at identity theft by calling the federal toll-free telephone number 800-318-2596.
Do you have concerns about the privacy of your personal information? And, have you already set up an account on Healthcare.gov? Please share your thoughts and/or your experience in the comments section.