All navigators must be impartial, certified and trained, said Richard Olague, spokesman for the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Some states may require fingerprinting or background checks, Olague said.
“What we’re very likely to see is (fake navigators saying), ‘For an upfront fee we can help you,’ but there shouldn’t be an upfront fee, it should be free,” Greisman said.
She said her agency had been waiting for the Department of Health and Human Services to finalize rules for the navigators before advising consumers on how best to distinguish real navigators from fake ones. The agency announced Friday that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services had finalized a 145-page regulation that outlines standards for navigators.
With less than three months to go before exchanges open, the clock is ticking.
“The closer we get to registration in October, the greater the odds that the con artists are going to be looking for weaknesses in the emergent new systems and they will be probing. And you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be some fresh and interesting new scams,” said James Quiggle, spokesman for the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud, a nonprofit based in Washington.
So far, Quiggle’s group has documented swindles related to the Affordable Care Act in at least half of the 50 states. But consumers can easily fight back, he said.
“Simply close the door, or hang up the phone the moment someone starts probing for your sensitive financial information,” he said. “Do not allow them to try to sweet talk you and engage you because some of these people are very trained and very good at slowly easing you into giving up your information.”
Consumers should report suspected scam artists to the Federal Trade Commission, state insurance departments and state attorneys general.
“That’s the only way these guys will be put out of business,” said Breyault of the National Consumers League.