Subverting Obamacare — watch out for dirty tricks

© Maxim_Kazmin - Fotolia.com

© Maxim_Kazmin – Fotolia.com

The weekend brought news of two dirty tricks that could cheat people out of the health care coverage they need.

Dirty trick #1: Deceptive dot.com packaging

Healthcare.gov or Healthcare.com? Pick the first, and you’ve got the official government site that can show you your state’s plans and offer subsidies if you qualify. Pick the second, and a private business promises they can show you every possible plan — but you can’t get the subsidy, and there’s no way to verify the accuracy of their information, according to Washington Post’s Wonkblog and Consumers Union. Healthcare.com also owns the Healthcare.org domain name.

Last year nine out of ten people who bought insurance through Healthcare.gov qualified for premium subsidies. For those people, clicking on Healthcare.com or Healthcare.org could cost some serious cash.

Dirty trick #2: Double billing

When you see a therapist, you expect to pay for the counseling session — but a Massachusetts man was surprised to find a second bill for $100 for the room where the counseling took place. That’s one example cited in the Sunday New York Times article about abusive billing practices designed to get around insurance company limits on fees. And if the insurance company refuses to pay the additional fee, the patient can get stuck with it.

The fees can also be an end run around the Affordable Care Act, according to the NYT article:

“Also, such fees often undercut mandates under the Affordable Care Act that certain vital services for women’s health and preventive care be provided at no cost to patients: An intrauterine device is covered, but there is an insertion fee. An annual physical is covered, but not some of the blood work that a physician has ordered.”

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