In an ironic twist, the White House is now joining health systems experts in warning that Americans who enroll in the ObamaCare insurance exchanges should expect that their personal, financial, and health information will be at risk and they could face fraud, identity theft, and even “cybersecurity threats.”
Paul Bedard at the Washington Examiner reports that with less than two weeks until the opening of the ObamaCare exchanges on October 1st, the White House is admitting the security threat is so serious that the Obama administration met late Wednesday to launch a new anti-fraud bureaucracy that will be charged with handling consumer complaints and educating Americans about the possible ObamaCare fraud and scams.
“Today we are sending a clear message that we will not tolerate anyone seeking to defraud consumers in the Health Insurance Marketplace,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said after the meeting. “We have strong security safeguards in the marketplace to protect people’s personal information against fraud and we will work with our partners to aggressively prosecute bad actors, just as we have been doing in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program.”
Bedard writes about the White House’s sudden mention of the likelihood of Americans being at risk:
To show just how bad the administration expects the situation to be, consider what’s being put in place to fight Obamacare fraud: a call center will have trained staff to take consumer complaints; the Obamacare website will connect consumers with the FTC’s complaint center; a “rapid response mechanism” will be established to sniff out privacy and cybersecurity threats; and a new public education campaign will be established to help consumers avoid scams.
CMS, the HHS agency that runs ObamaCare, also produced a new publication entitled “Protect Yourself From Fraud In The Health Insurance Marketplace.” This resource informs Americans that when they sign up for health insurance in the new exchanges, or “marketplace,” they will need some tips “to protect yourself while getting you the coverage you need.”
CMS goes on to warn Americans that the new “Navigators,” “Assisters,” and “Certified Application Counselors” are there to help but that they should not be asking for your personal information, except your Social Security number, if they help you to enroll:
Protect your personal information.
- No one should ask for your personal health information.
- Keep personal and account numbers private. Don’t give your Social Security number or credit card or banking information to companies you didn’t contact or in response to unsolicited advertisements. Note: if you get help from a Marketplace assister, they may need certain personal information like your Social Security number to help you enroll.
- Never give your personal information to someone who calls or comes to your home without your permission, even if they say they are from the Marketplace.
Earlier in the month, Breitbart News reported that non-government groups like Planned Parenthood and Migrant Health Promotion, Inc. have been given grants to serve as “Navigators” to help enroll Americans into the exchanges.
Though it is known that Planned Parenthood just paid out a $4.3 million settlement for Medicaid fraud in Texas, no background checks are required for the “Navigators,” who will have access to the private information of Americans seeking health insurance in the marketplace. HHS has simply said that navigators must obey security and privacy requirements but has not defined what those requirements are. Officials responded with ire when Republican members of Congress attempted to exert some oversight of the process.
Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez, who was present at the White House anti-fraud meeting, said, “At the FTC, we know all too well how scammers invariably try to take advantage of developments in the marketplace and new government programs. We will be vigilant as always in cracking down on this type of opportunistic fraud.”