If you are trying to purchase health insurance on your own, make sure the plans you are considering are actually insurance. Some businesses and individuals will try to take advantage of the requirement that everyone in Massachusetts have health insurance by using unfair or deceptive advertising practices or by operating scams.

All legitimate health insurance companies are licensed by the Massachusetts Division of Insurance . You can call the Division of Insurance at (617) 521-7794 to verify that a company is a licensed insurer.

Health Plan Promises

Beware of health plan promises that seem too good to be true. Don't be fooled by bogus health plans that seek unsuspecting consumers on the internet and through unsolicited faxes and phone calls. Don't be fooled by health plans that sound too good to be true or that advertise a limited time offer. You should never respond to an unsolicited fax or provide personal information to a telemarketer. You should always be careful when surfing the web. Unless you know who sent you the fax or set up a website, don't trust them with your money or your personal information.

Discount Plans/Cards

Don't be fooled by discount plans or cards. Don't buy a discount plan or card as an alternative to health plan coverage. Discount plans/cards do not pay anything toward your medical claims. Instead, they may allow you to get a discount on some of your medical expenses. Discount plans/ cards may look like a cheap health plan, but they are not health insurance and they do not meet your Massachusetts "individual mandate" requirement for health coverage. Discount plans/cards may promise big savings, but you may end up with no savings and no way to get your money back. They are not regulated by Massachusetts or federal law, so buyer beware and know what you are getting before you sign up for a discount plan. You should check with your doctor or local pharmacist to ask whether you will receive any real savings before you give your money or your personal information to anyone offering health care discounts.

Read the Fine Print

Read the fine print before choosing a health plan. Always take a close look at plan benefits and limitations before you sign up or pay any fees. That way you can see in advance if the plan is right for you and your family. Make sure you understand what the plan covers and does not cover. And remember to add up how much you will have to pay out of your pocket for deductibles and co-payments and items that are not covered. High out-of-pocket costs can soon wipe out the savings of lower monthly premiums.

For More Information

Choosing a health plan is one of the most important decisions you will make. Make sure you get what you pay for. If you think you may have fallen victim to a scam or if you have questions about a health plan or insurance company, please call the Attorney General's Health Care Hotline at 1-888-830-6277, or the Division of Insurance Consumer Service Section at (617) 521-7794.

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