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Attorney general, DOH commissioner issue alert on health insurance renewal scams

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gorengan

Fri, May 12th 2023 04:50 pm

Submitted by the New York State Attorney General’s Office

New York Attorney General Letitia James and Acting Department of Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald warned New Yorkers about a new scam targeting New Yorkers enrolled in public health insurance programs and provided important tips to protect consumers.

For the first time since March 2020, people enrolled in Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and the Essential Plan will have to renew their health insurance coverage. James and McDonald are urging New Yorkers to be vigilantes in light of reports of scammers deceptively calling people and asking them to pay hundreds of dollars to maintain their health insurance.

“It is despicable that scammers are trying to exploit New Yorkers’ need for quality health insurance and ongoing uncertainty over Medicaid coverage,” James said. “The best tool consumers and families have to combat scams is knowledge, and that is why I am committed to raising this issue. I urge everyone to follow our important tips, and anyone affected by this scam to contact my office immediately.”

McDonald said, “These schemes are maliciously preying on public health insurance enrollees as they navigate the return of renewals for the first time in three years. Such actions are downright criminal, and I ask all New Yorkers to read these guidelines and help protect each other from this fraudulent abuse.”

The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 ended the continuous coverage requirements effective March 31, 2023. As a result, New York state has resumed the practice of reviewing and renewing eligibility for those enrolled in Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and the Essential Plan. Starting in mid-March, enrollees were sent renewal notices with detailed instructions of how to stay covered and their deadline to take action.

There have been reports of scammers taking advantage of this process and threatening New Yorkers that their Medicaid coverage is at risk for cancellation or that they have actually already lost their Medicaid benefits, unless they provide hundreds of dollars to reinstate or continue benefits. This is false, and the New York agencies that administer Medicaid benefits will never charge or ask for money from consumers to enroll or re-enroll.

New Yorkers are encouraged to visit the New York State Department of Health website or its Medicaid information page to learn how they can renew health insurance.

Additionally, James and McDonald provided the following tips:

√ No one can ever charge you a fee to renew your health insurance in Medicaid, Child Health Plus, or the Essential Plan. If you are enrolled in health insurance through the New York State of Health, many people are available to help you renew for free. These include the state’s health certified enrollment assistors (including navigators, agents and brokers), and customer service representatives. For information or guidance, visit the State of Health’s website or call 1-855-355-5777. If you are enrolled in Medicaid through either your county’s Medicaid office or through New York City’s Human Resources Administration (HRA), there are also many people available to help you for free. Contact the office where you are enrolled to ask questions and get help with renewing your insurance.

√ Government agencies will never threaten you, demand you pay money, or ask for credit information in a text message or phone call.

√ Report suspected fraud. Call the New York State of Health’s Customer Service Center at 1-855-355-5777. TTY users should call 1-800-662-1220. Call your county’s Medicaid office or HRA at the phone number listed on the State of Health’s Medicaid page. Contact the Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) health care helpline at 1-800-428-9071 or the New York State Department of Financial Services’ consumer hotline at 1-800-342-3736.

Additional information about renewing your coverage:

√ If you are enrolled in health insurance through the NY State of Health, many people are available to help you renew for free. These include NY State of Health-certified enrollment assistors (including navigators, agents, and brokers) and customer service representatives. Find help at nystateofhealth.ny.gov or 1-855-355-5777.

√ If you are enrolled in Medicaid through either your county’s Medicaid office or through HRA, there are also many people available to help you for free. Contact the office where you are enrolled to ask questions and get help with renewing your insurance.

√ Keep your personal information private. Only share information needed to renew with someone you know is either a NY State of Health-certified enrollment assistant or customer service representative, a facilitated enroller for the aged, blind and disabled or an employee of your county’s Medicaid office or HRA.

√ Look for the official NY State of Health or Medicaid logos, or the logo of your county’s Medicaid office or HRA before you complete any forms.

Any New Yorker who suspects that they are a victim of a scam is encouraged to report it to OAG by submitting a complaint online or calling 1-800-771-7755.