ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Needless complexity and slow phase-in enables scammers to target seniors
[Many] fraudsters seem to be preying on the public's confusion over the massive changes taking place in the nation's health care system.
Seniors are often targets — they're more likely to be home to answer the phone, and they tend to have retirement savings that scammers hope to tap. But they aren't the only victims: The federal government received nearly 83,000 complaints of these types of scams last year — up 12 percent from the year before.
"America is rife with health scams," says James Quiggle, communications director at the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud in Washington, D.C. "Crooks are offering fake health coverage, stripped-down policies masquerading as real coverage. They're also selling what — they're lying — is fake Obamacare coverage," he explains.
Recent polls have found that well over half of Americans say they still don't understand how the new health law will affect them. "Crooks are playing on that confusion. Confusion is a crook's best friend," says Quiggle.
Fraudsters are as attuned to what's going on in the news as anybody else, says Lois Greisman, who runs the division of marketing practices at the Federal Trade Commission. "Before Katrina hit land, websites were up soliciting funds to help victims of Katrina. This is not a surprise; this is par for the course."*
Savvy senior Evelyne Lois Such offers this advice for others who get a suspicious call: "Don't answer too quickly, think about the answer you give them and what they're asking." And never give any personal or financial information over the phone.
Better yet? Just hang up.
Who could have known that the slow phase-in of a needlessly complex program would create opporunities for fraudsters? (And doesn't this sound a lot like the kind of scams banksters run on their dupes in 401(k) programs? Seniors shouldn't have to be "savvy" at all. This is just shifting more risk to people who shouldn't have to bear it in the first place.
Again, if the Democrats had passed single payer Medicare for All in 2009, we would all have been getting guaranteed coverage going on two years now. (Medicare took a year to phase in, back in 1965 when we didn't even have computers. Software engineers know: Complexity is the enemy of quality. Build a simple system, and the complexity that breeds fraud doesn't exist. Drain the swamp, and the mosquitoes don't breed.
UPDATE * Sibelius disagrees:
“Probably no one fully anticipated when you have a law that phases in over time, how much confusion that creates for a lot of people. So that has been difficult,” Sebelius said. “When the law was signed and people immediately did not get affordable health insurance, they were surprised and a lot were disappointed but now understand that this was a gradual phase-in.”
Oh, ha ha ha.