Is That Health Insurance Website for Real?

Shopping for health insurance online?  Before making your final purchase – read on.  Health insurance scams have been preying through websites selling medical discount plans.

According to the complaint in a recent case FTC settlement, IAB Marketing Associates, LP et al. , was a sham nonprofit trade association offering memberships suggesting it would provide consumers with a comprehensive medical insurance plan. Here’s how it worked: people shopping for health insurance online would come across websites quoting prices for health insurance plans once they entered their personal information. The websites acted like collection baskets: they asked for contact information, age, occupation, marital status-and whether folks had health insurance or pre-existing medical conditions. IAB telemarketers then called people who provided their information on these websites and used aggressive tactics to sell IAB memberships. As long as people paid upfront fee and made monthly payments – both ranging from $40 – $1,000 – they were promised a comprehensive health insurance plan that covered virtually every medical procedure and illness

Or so they thought.

The truth? According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), consumers never were enrolled in a comprehensive health insurance plan. The IAB plan was essentially a medical discount plan, offering, if it existed, limited discounts and reimbursements on visits to certain doctors or hospitals. Many consumers who suffered an accident or illness were shocked to find that their IAB “health plan” covered very few, if any, medical expenses, leaving them with major medical bills.

For additional information go to:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/health-insurance-website-real

Teaching Suggestions

  • Ask students why they should research a company before providing their personal information.
  • Where can students file a complaint if they suspect a health insurance scam?

Discussion Questions

  1. How can consumers protect themselves from such scams?
  2. Should consumers provide personal information on the web?
Categories: Chapter 9, insurance, Wise Shopping | Tags: | Leave a comment

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