CHICAGO — As website issues and overall confusion reportedly marked the nationwide rollout of the Affordable Care Act Tuesday, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said residents here have another thing to worry about: potential health care scams.
As of Tuesday, residents and small businesses can compare plans and buy medical and dental insurance via online health insurance marketplaces.
Illinois has its own website featuring plans that are approved by the federal government under the Affordable Care Act, also known somewhat less affectionately as Obamacare. Residents have until March 31 to sign up for a plan for 2014, and those uninsured by that time risk a tax penalty.
The New York Times reported that people nationwide were encountering issues online as they tried to sign up, which was at least somewhat due to the high demand to access the website.
Madigan cautioned Illinois residents to learn more about the new program to avoid scam artists who might try to take advantage of all the confusion.
Gov. Pat Quinn also launched "Get Covered Illinois," an education and enrollment website, in an effort to help residents learn more and sign up for the right insurance.
Scam artists might try to collect personal or financial information to steal residents' identities or money, or they might try to sell "discount medical plans," Madigan warned in a statement.
There are certified specialists available for anyone who might need help signing up for insurance, Madigan's office said. One sign that you've encountered a scam is if anyone is asking you to pay for help to buy a plan, the attorney general said.
To check whether someone is a certified specialist, residents can go to the Illinois Department of Insurance's website and look for the specialist's name.
Madigan also warned residents to be careful about giving out their personal information. A Social Security number must be provided to buy a plan, so consumers should make sure they're on a legitimate website, she said.
Those who encounter or suspect fraud should call 800-386-5438 to report it, Madigan's office said.