Beware of Scammers if You Find Yourself Shopping for Low-Cost Insurance in Washington

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State Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued a warning for those looking for health insurance: People who have lost their employee-sponsored health insurance should be cautious of insurance companies promising cheap rates and coverage.

Kreidler and the Washington Health Benefit Exchange have been hearing from consumers who have been tricked by fake and bogus websites as they look for health insurance.

"The Exchange urges Washingtonians to be cautious about fake health care websites that are posing as Washington Healthplanfinder, Washington's official health insurance marketplace," Exchange chief marketing officer Michael Marchand said in a statement.

If you're shopping for health insurance and something sounds too good to be true, you should ask a lot of questions and read the fine print before buying. Most plans must comply with the benefits and protections required by the Affordable Care Act.

Here are some tips to help you combat potential scams:

-- Closely examine any offers, especially one that could be a health care sharing ministry. A health care sharing ministry is an organization whose members have shared a common set of ethical or religious beliefs and share medical expenses consistent with those beliefs.

-- The official marketplace or Exchange for Washington state is the only place where you can receive tax credits, subsidies or access to free or low-cost coverage through Medicaid or Washington Apple Health.

-- The only official web address for the online marketplace is www.wahealthplanfinder.org. Any other site with a variation on the name or with an address that ends in ".net" or ".com" is not the state's official marketplace. If you are not sure if you are at the official website, call Washington Healthplanfinder toll-free at 1-855-WAFINDER, or 1-855-923-4633.

For more information, log on to https://www.insurance.wa.gov/ask-us-insurance-question or the state's health plan website.

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