Monday, 27 October 2014

BBB Tip of the Week

Open enrollment for many 2015 health insurance plans is around the corner.

Those searching for plans online may think they have found a great deal when they’ve found a scam.

Recently, a bogus trade association encouraged people and small businesses to pay for membership in order to qualify for health insurance. Once members, they would pay their monthly health insurance “premium,” anywhere from $40 to $1,000, thinking they had purchased a comprehensive health insurance plan. Instead they were paying premium prices for a medical discount plan with very limited discounts for just a few doctors and hospitals.

The FTC has reached settlements stopping two businesses perpetrating such schemes: Independent Association of Businesses and Health Service Providers Inc.

Similar online schemes may still be operating. In addition, online phishing scams are eager to collect your personal information by pretending to offer health insurance.

The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to keep your information safe and find legitimate health insurance:

• Don’t share your personal information online unless you are completely certain that the website is legitimate.

• To be certain that you are dealing with a legitimate health insurance exchange, start your search at

• If you would rather deal directly with an insurance company or broker, research the company first.  Also check the company’s business review at or by calling (455)-4200.

• To verify that the health insurance plan and company are legitimate, check with the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner at

• Insurance plans have policy details available for you to review before you enroll. If an insurance broker, company or association refuses to give you up-front details about a policy, then it is probably a scam.

If you’ve been the victim of or suspect a health insurance scam, file complaints with the Washington state Office of the Insurance Commissioner at, the FTC at, and the BBB at