A Henryetta man's bombardment by telemarketers starting the minute he signed off the new online marketplace heathcare.gov is happening to other consumers nationwide, according to reports by consumers to The Oklahoman.
Since registering with his name, phone, email and ZIP code to shop the site Oct. 1, James Cox said he's fielded calls from salespeople from as far away as Florida and from within his local exchange, peddling products that don't meet requirements under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or compliant plans quoted at double the premiums displayed on the official website.
Cox said he received a call Wednesday from a man who said he was with the “Insurance Enrollment Center,” with more than 40 offices nationwide.
“I asked him how he got my number, and he said from ‘your recent inquiry to the health insurance website,'” Cox said. “He explained to me if I still needed insurance, he needed some information, concerning my age, pre-existing conditions, medications, height and weight, and then he would transfer me to a licensed agent.”
Meanwhile, Oscar Sistrunk, who said he teaches management information systems at Morehouse College in Georgia, emailed The Oklahoman, reporting a similar experience with a salesperson from Florida. Sistrunk forwarded the recorded call from a woman who was selling Assurant Health.
“It's a poor policy and they want a $25 application fee,” Sistrunk wrote.
Shannon Graham Urban, a Midwest City native who lives in Fort Worth, Texas, said it was the same with her.
“I started getting calls within 15 minutes of signing off,” Graham said. “I was totally bombarded with calls from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m.”
Meanwhile, bloggers from Idaho and elsewhere have reported similar experiences.
But a spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said all information entered on the site is secure, while a spokeswoman with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma said the insurer isn't making outbound marketing calls.
“The privacy and security of consumers' personal information are a top priority for us. CMS does not sell, rent or share online marketplace application or marketplace call center consumer data to outside entities, beyond the sharing the law allows for marketplace-related purposes,” meaning to issuers' to complete the enrollment process, the federal spokesman said.
How to help
To report unscrupulous marketing calls, call the Federal Trade Commission at (877) 382-4357.