Officials warn consumers about scams related to the Affordable Care Act

By Alyssa Donovan

October 2, 2013 Updated Oct 2, 2013 at 10:34 AM CDT

The Health Insurance Marketplace opened Tuesday for millions of American Citizens shopping for health insurance but before you log on, officials are warning Illinois residents to use caution and beware of scammers.

The Affordable Care Act, or ObamaCare, was off to a glitchy start on Tuesday as millions logged onto healthcare.gov causing the website quite a few problems.

Heartland Community Health Clinic's Brittney Wallace spent the day assisting people with their marketplace applications.

Out of 10 people, only one was able to complete the entire enrollment.

"We're hoping the government can get it together in the next 2 weeks so that the process can run more smoothly," said Wallace.

Consumers have until March 15, 2014 to complete enrollment.

Wallace will be at the Peoria Public Library first and third Tuesday of every month to assist people with the process.

Health care providers and government officials are advising consumers to be patient and educate themselves to avoid being the victim of a scam.

"Start with the getcoveredillinois.gov website. That will ensure that you are on the proper links and the proper websites and you are not being redirected to a fraudulent website," Wallace said. "Watch out for the dot-coms, every website dealing with the marketplace should end in a dot-gov."

Sarah Sparkman at the Tazewell County Health Department said you should never have to pay to receive help.

Specialists who are certified through the Affordable Care Act are there to provide free assistance.

Officials say do not give out your social security number or financial information over the phone or through email and if you are working with a specialist make sure they are certified.

"All of our counselors will have on green shirts with a health department badge," Sparkman said. "Any agency that is helping you that is an accredited agency through the processing system will have badges from an agency that you should know."

Sparkman said when it comes to paying your premium no cash should change hands at the time of meeting with a specialist. All transactions should be handled through the website.

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