Wednesday, April 16, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Imitation ‘Covered California’ Websites shut down

By
From page A3 | November 18, 2013 | 12 Comments

SAN FRANCISCO — Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced Nov. 15 the removal of 10 private health insurance Websites that misled Californians by imitating Covered California, the state’s official insurance marketplace for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA). Harris also released tips to help consumers avoid insurance scams.

“These Websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” Harris said. “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites. I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting coveredca.com.”

In September, the California Attorney General’s Office began an investigation into Websites that imitate the state’s Covered California Website (coveredca.com). Multiple Website operators were sent cease-and-desist letters informing them that their Websites were in violation of state law and demanding the immediate removal of the Website or transfer of the domain name to the state’s official exchange.

These Websites were operated by private health insurance brokers or companies that were not affiliated with Covered California. The Websites have domain names similar to the state’s official health care exchange and contain unauthorized references to the official exchange’s trademarked logo and name. In several cases, Websites used the phrases “Get Covered,” “Covered California” and “California Health Benefit Advisers.”

The California Affordable Care Act forbids individuals or entities from claiming to provide services on behalf of Covered California without securing a valid agreement with the State Exchange. State law also prohibits solicitations that falsely imply a governmental connection, the use of a domain name that is confusingly similar to another entity, making or disseminating untrue or misleading representations with the intent of selling goods or services and unfair competition through untrue or misleading advertising.

To date, all Website operators who have been contacted by the Attorney General’s Office have complied, and the following Websites have been either deactivated or redirected to the official exchange Website:

californiabenefitexchange.com

californiahealthbenefitexchange.com

coveredcalifornia.com

shopinsuranceexchange.us

shopinsuranceservices.com

healthexchangeinsurance.com

shopforhealthcare.org

taxcreditinsurance.com

smallbusinesshealthoptionsprogram.com

stateexchanges.org.

The California Health Benefit Exchange is charged with implementing the ACA and is the operator of California’s online health insurance marketplace known as Covered California. California consumers who purchase health insurance policies through this marketplace receive protections guaranteed by the ACA that may not exist in policies outside of the exchange.

Health insurance plans sold outside the official exchange on the individual market before Jan. 1, 2014, do not qualify for federal subsidies and do not have the guarantees provided by the ACA’s consumer protection provisions. Major consumer protections include: no denials based on preexisting conditions; no rating differences based on factors other than age, geography, and family size; issuers may not impose any annual dollar limits for covered services; and all qualified plans must cover essential health benefits identified under the ACA.

To avoid scams related to California’s health insurance marketplace, Attorney General Harris has released the following tips for consumers:

California’s only official health insurance marketplace is coveredca.com, which is where individuals, families and small businesses can get information, compare plans and enroll.

Be wary if you receive a call from a representative claiming to be a government official asking for your personal information like Social Security number or Medicare card number. You should not provide personal or financial information over the phone and should instead contact Covered California directly.

If you are approached by someone offering assistance from Covered California, verify that they are a Certified Enrollment Counselor by asking to see their required ID badge or by contacting Covered California directly.

Never pay someone for assistance with health care enrollment. Free enrollment assistance is available by contacting Covered California directly.

If you believe that you have been the victim of a scam, please report it by contacting Covered California directly or by filing a consumer complaint with the California Attorney General’s office at: oag.ca.gov/contact/consumer-complaint-against-business-or-company

To contact Covered California directly, call 800-300-1506 or email consumerprotection@covered.ca.gov

Kamala D. Harris

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 12 comments

  • cookie65November 18, 2013 - 5:32 am

    It isn't possible for "consumers avoid insurance scams." It is mandated under ocommycare. Scamming people is selling them things they don't want or need. Guess what ocommycare does?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • cookie65November 18, 2013 - 5:54 am

    This is the mother of all scams. "No matter how we reform health care, I intend to keep this promise: If you like your doctor, you'll be able to keep your doctor; if you like your health care plan, you'll be able to keep your health care plan." -- barack obama June 11, 2009

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • cookie65November 18, 2013 - 5:56 am

    So they have "removed" websites that have "mislead" consumers. What should we do about the people who wrote and sold ocommycare?

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Dink LaneNovember 18, 2013 - 11:56 am

    Cookie: $5 says you have some kind of Heath Care Coverage. 90+% of the people in this country has some kind of Health Care Coverage..... YOU don't want to be FORCED to buy Insurance..... DON"T! Pay the NON-Enforceable penalty of $95........ Excuse me, but there are 140,000 people in CA that does want HC....... AND YOU Want the Corporate loving GOPers to STOP them from having health care coverage..... I hope you sleep well at night.... because a Mother sitting in Marshall's emergency room with a sick child isn't.... But you don't give Cr&!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • cookie65November 18, 2013 - 1:20 pm

    Dink, there are a lot more than 140,000 in California who want healthcare insurance. There are at least that many who have been moved into the uninsured column thanks to ocommycare. I realize you are more dependent on strawman arguments than fish are dependent on water but I have never been opposed to insuring everyone who wants to be insured. That isn't what ocommycare is about by any stretch of the imagination.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CCRNovember 18, 2013 - 6:27 am

    And how to tell if it's a scam? It does'nt crash.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • MorrisNovember 18, 2013 - 6:33 am

    That's funny. Don't care which side of the issue yer on...that's still funny.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Dee#1November 18, 2013 - 12:04 pm

    Dink, that mother sitting in the Emergency Room with her sick child is getting medical treatment . And she won't even need to worry about cost. A friend's great grandson is six months old. Mom and baby are on welfare. Food stamps and Medicaid. The baby was born with two right kidneys. He is constantly in/out of the hospital, how much is she charged-nothing. So please try another scenario to tug our hearts and suppress reason.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Little RickyNovember 18, 2013 - 1:24 pm

    ObamaCare it's all a SCAM....

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Modern ManNovember 18, 2013 - 4:47 pm

    Dink, 140,000 want free health insurance. There are 40 million people in California.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CCRNovember 19, 2013 - 6:02 pm

    About a million californians had their health care coverage canceled they got so mad they all went back to mexico. :Jay Leno

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Dee#1November 20, 2013 - 8:25 am

    CCR......funny!!! Thank you!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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