NEWS: Jacksonville Journal-Courier: "'Navigators' raise identity theft risk

October 8, 2013

Illinois Insurance Department Warns Residents to Beware of Navigator Scams, Door-to-Door Activity

Department of Insurance spokesperson: “We have been made aware that scams are possible… If someone is at your door, err on the side of caution.”

The Illinois Department of Insurance recently echoed the same concerns voiced by the Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the Navigator program and the potential for concerns that range from consumer confusion to a lack of adequate training to fraud and scams. The committee has been especially concerned with consumer protections and while the 105 federally funded Navigators are advised against going door-to-door to enroll individuals, the same rules do not apply to non-federally funded groups. Enroll America and the United Way group in Florida, which did not receive federal Navigator funding, were featured last week by Fox News going door-to door on launch day.
 

As the committee noted last week, “With a patchwork of rules and belated guidance from HHS, how are consumers supposed to know whether the people knocking on their door to help them with enrollment are who they say they are?” This type of confusion underscores why the committee remains committed to thoughtful oversight.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan had some advice worth following last week when she warned residents to be aware of health insurance scams, stating, “Because I say to people, ‘Don’t ever answer your door to a stranger if you have no idea why that person is there. Maybe they’re there to help, but there also is a chance they may be there to harm them physically and/or financially.’”

‘Navigators’ raise identity theft risk
October 7, 2013

Growing concerns about identity theft and fraud have led the Illinois Department of Insurance to issue a public warning, just as the new health insurance exchanges enter their implementation phase.

Concern focuses on those charged with assisting Illinoisans with enrollment to the new health insurance exchanges, the so-called “navigators.”

Navigators will “educate consumers about the health insurance Marketplace, answer health coverage-related questions, and facilitate consumers’ selection of affordable health coverage through the Marketplace,” according to the navigator training manual.

This will give navigators access to individuals’ personally identifiable information: the information necessary for identity theft.

The Illinois Department of Insurance warns people about giving their personal information through “unsolicited telephone calls of any kind,” as well as to people pretending to be navigators.

“We have been made aware that scams are possible,” said Kimberly Parker, a Department of Insurance spokesperson. “If someone is at your door, err on the side of caution.” …

The Illinois Department of Insurance is not the only institution warning about identity theft in connection with Obamacare navigators.

In August, the attorneys general of 13 states signed a letter listing their concerns about consumer privacy protection in connection with the navigator program. The letter highlights a risk of inadequate training for navigators and fewer consumer protections than is provided in the market—particularly regarding who is liable if information is stolen. …

The state of Illinois has tried to put extra safeguards in place for its navigator program. Illinois requires navigators to pass a background check to get a state navigator license, although this is not in federal requirements. The state also passed laws allowing the Department of Insurance to revoke navigator licenses in cases of misconduct.

However, navigator training lasts only three days, and much of it is spent completing a 20-hour online course. Concern centers on how adequately they are prepared to handle personal information. …

Read the entire story online here.

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