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Our Opinion: Avoid scams connected to health care law

News Tribune editorial

As enrollments begin under the new federal health care law, debate continues about the merits or mischief of the Affordable Care Act.

Despite widely diverse predictions of the law’s impact, what is not in dispute is the warning to avoid being victimized by scams.

Sadly, deceit is a byproduct of change.

Whenever something new is introduced, con artists find ways to obtain personal gain at the expense of the uninitiated.

The Missouri Department of Insurance has warned the public to be wary of sharing personal information.

The agency:

• Encourages consumers to provide personal information only when they initiate the contact and only with licensed insurance agents or navigators.

• Reminds consumers both insurance agents and navigators are required to be licensed by the state. Missourians may verify the license of a specific insurance agent or navigator, by visiting insurance.mo.gov/otherlicensees/navigators.php

• Points out navigators can provide services to consumers free of charge. The agency said: “Navigators are licensed to provide fair and impartial information and services about eligibility, enrollment and program specifications of any health benefit exchange operating in this state, including information about the cost of coverage, advance payment of premium tax credits, and cost sharing reductions.”

In addition, the Department of Insurance reminds consumers the annual Medicare open enrollment period is Oct. 15-Dec. 7. Medicare plans are not sold on the new federal health insurance exchanges.

Since those online exchanges opened for business Tuesday, the volume of interest has resulted in virtual gridlock.

Whether you regale or revile the onset of the federal Affordable Care Act, a common denominator for everyone is to avoid being the victim of scam.

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