AG establishes health insurance hotline

CHARLESTON – The office of the West Virginia attorney general has established a fraud and identity theft tip line for consumers to call if they encounter problems during or after enrolling for health insurance.

Open enrollment under the Affordable Care Act began on Tuesday.

“With the start of open enrollment, our Office remains very concerned about the possibility of consumer’s private information being misused or consumers becoming victimized by scammers,” Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said. “To help address these concerns, members of our staff will be standing by to help consumers and jump to action if disconcerting trends seem to emerge.”

Specifically, Consumer Protection Division employees will field calls and answer queries from citizens about challenges or scams they encounter. In addition, the office’s consumer advocates and compliance specialists will work with citizens in local communities to educate them about the Affordable Care Act and ways to protect their financial and personal information. In addition, the Office will distribute a brochure highlighting ways to avoid scams.

Morrisey, a Republican, has opposed the new health care law and said his personal opinions wouldn’t affect consumer protection services in the office.

“This tip line is not designed to take a pro or con view of the law, but rather help citizens if they encounter issues in enrolling, including people using high-pressure sales tactics or spreading false messages, such as the IRS sending bills,” said Morrisey. “Our Office stands ready to protect consumers, regardless of my personal opinions of the law.”

The state’s Health Care Marketplace opened Tuesday. Between now and January, citizens who currently don’t have health insurance must sign up for some form of insurance or risk being penalized by the IRS.

“Our office is committed to assisting consumers and businesses during the open enrollment period and into the future,” Morrisey said. “We plan to do everything we can to make this time of change as seamless as possible for citizens and work daily to help them protect their financial information and identity.”

Consumers with concerns about enrolling for health insurance or with tips about identity theft scams may call 800-368-8808 and ask to speak with a health insurance specialist.