BISMARCK, N.D.-Insurance Commissioner Adam Hamm warns North Dakotans of an increase in health insurance scams showing up around the state on fax machines, in newspapers and on the internet.
Advertising aimed at scamming consumers typically features a health plan offering health benefits, discounted health services or insurance benefits. These fraudulent entities may not be registered with the North Dakota Insurance Department and therefore are operating illegally.
"Consumers need to be aware that even though these plans may say they offer insurance along with discounted services, they usually only provide limited insurance benefits," Hamm said.
Oftentimes, the ads do not include a company name but offer a health insurance plan with low monthly premiums. When a consumer calls their toll-free number, the company attempts to coerce them into purchasing a plan.
"People should carefully review and fully understand the insurance coverage before buying into any of these plans," he said.
Hamm offers these tips on how to spot and avoid health insurance scams:
• These companies often give no or very little information about the level of insurance coverage provided and don't disclose the name of the company writing the insurance. They typically will not send information until payment is received.
• Even if the company's offer lists insurance benefits, they are probably limited accident and health benefits and not major medical coverage.
• Many of these companies ask for personal identifying information over the phone, like Social Security numbers or birth dates. They may also request payment by credit card or automatic bank draft. Do not give your account numbers to companies you do not know or have not dealt with before.
• These companies often tell consumers to "act now," pressuring them into making decisions on the spot, and tell them that it is a one-time offer.
• Remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Before purchasing any health insurance or a medical discount plan, consumers should verify that the company is licensed to do business in North Dakota by calling 1-800-247-0560 or visiting www.nd.gov/ndins.