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Health care scams to be weary of as marketplace takes shape

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With health care reform enrollment starting Tuesday, scam artists are expected to be out in force trying to take advantage of people looking for low-cost health insurance. Here's a few tips on how to avoid becoming a victim.

Scam #1 -- Selling a health insurance policy to someone who already has health insurance.

If you have health insurance through your job or are on Medicare the healthcare law won't affect you. If someone says it does, they are scamming you. Report them.

Scam #2 -- Charging for free services

Scammers may try to charge you to enroll in a health insurance exchange. Don't do it. That's a free service. In simple English, a health insurance exchange is a website where you shop for health insurance. You don't have to pay to use it.

Scam #3 -- Asking for personal information

Never give out your social security number, banking information or any other personal information to someone who contacted you about health insurance. Only give out that information when you know the person you are dealing with is legit because you've initiated the contact.

Scam #4 -- Medical discount plans masquerading as health insurance

A medical discount plan is not health insurance. Most of these plans promise to get you discounts from certain doctors and pharmacies that are part of their so-called "club". Discount plans are usually a scam. You don't want a discount plan. You want health insurance.

Scam #5 -- "I'm a government employee here to sign you up for health insurance."

They're not. No one from the government will call you about health insurance.

So how do you get insurance but not get scammed? Go to www.healthcare.gov
That's the official government website.

What do you do if come across a scammer? Report them by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP

Union members, hospital workers and others are legitimately trying to help people sign up for health insurance. Be sure to get the full name of the person who is helping you along with the phone number, address and website of the company they are working for. And ask plenty of questions if there is something you don't understand.

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