Governor Steve Beshear and Attorney General Jack Conway are warning consumers to protect themselves from fraud and to be vigilant of scams claiming to be associated with Kentucky's rollout of the Affordable Care Act.
If Kentuckians have any questions or concerns, they should contact the AG's Office of Consumer Protection or staff of the state's health benefit exchange call center.
On Oct. 1, thousands of Kentuckians without health insurance began seeking information and shopping for insurance coverage using kynect, Kentucky's health benefit marketplace created to provide simple, one-stop shopping for individuals and small businesses to purchase health insurance.
Unfortunately, scammers have seen this as an opportunity to try to collect consumers' personal information or to make false claims.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services, which oversees kynect, has been notified by consumers of suspicious websites that call consumers after they register information on the sites.
The Attorney General's Office is investigating the websites. On Monday, it sent civil investigative subpoenas and cease and desist orders to the operators of two websites.
"It's appalling to think there are individuals out there who would prey on Kentuckians during this process," Gov. Beshear said. "Everyone should be on guard and report any questionable websites or businesses. There is a lot of misinformation on the Affordable Care Act, which is why we have qualified staff who can answer questions and point consumers in the right direction."
Gov. Beshear said kynect is a secure website, and the call center staff is professionally trained.
Attorney General Conway's Office of Consumer Protection is set up to handle questions and concerns by the public involving matters like Kentucky's launch of the Affordable Care Act. The most common trick is scam websites trying to mimic legitimate government websites.Kynect.ky.gov is the only website Kentuckians should use to sign up for the exchange, Attorney General Conway said, adding that anything with a ".com" or ".net" address is not a legitimate website for the exchange.
"My office is committed to protecting Kentuckians from these types of crimes," Attorney General Conway said. "If something seems suspicious, do not share your personal information, and if you suspect fraud, report it immediately by calling our Consumer Protection Hotline at 888-432-9257."
Attorney General Conway warns Kentuckians to be on guard for attempts by identity thieves to collect personal or financial information by email, phone or mail.
Scammers may additionally try to sell individuals bogus "discount medical plans" or mislead older consumers on Medicare by making false claims that Medicare coverage is affected by the new law, he said.
The Office of Consumer Protection recommends the following tips for consumers:
• Protect your personal information. Only a registered insurance agent, a certified kynector, or contact center customer service representative should ask for your personal information to help you apply. Keep personal and account numbers private to any others who offer assistance. Don't give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to companies or individuals you didn't contact. Never give your information to someone whose identity you question.
• Make sure you're working with a registered insurance agent or certified kynector. Only legitimate insurance agents and assisters, known as "kynectors," are authorized to assist Kentuckians with signing up for health care. A list of approved agents and kynectors maintained by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services can be found online or by calling 1-855-4kynect (459-6328).
• Do not pay for help. Insurance agents and kynectors will not solicit money. There is no charge to use kynect services, either online or with the help of an insurance agent or certified kynector. If consumers receive an offer to register for a fee, they should hang up the phone or walk away. Consumers should not give their credit card or banking information to anyone they do not know or did not contact. Consumers should be very suspicious of anyone charging a fee in connection with enrollment.
• Remember that you can only get tax credits through kynect. Kentuckians who purchase insurance through kynect may qualify for tax credits to help cut the cost. No one but kynect can offer these credits, and there is no charge to apply for the credits.
• Beware of phishing scams online. Consumers should be cautious of any email claiming to be connected to the Affordable Care Act, including any emails claiming to be affiliated with kynect and asking for personal information.
• Ask questions. Don't sign anything you don't fully understand, and verify the answers you get with trained kynect representatives.
If people do think their personal information has been compromised, they can visit www.ag.ky.gov. The Attorney General's website contains information about protecting your personal identity and an identity theft toolkit.
Kynect is a program run by the Kentucky Office of the Health Benefit Exchange within the Cabinet for Health and Family Services. Federal law requires each state to have an online health insurance marketplace to ensure that all Americans have access to quality healthcare.
Press Release Date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 Contact Information: Allison Gardner Martin Communications Director502-696-5651 (office)
Drs. Harris, McCreary heading up program at LCHS...
By Angela Myhrwold and James Ellis
LOUISA -- Concussions are a serious risk for young athletes. Not only are teenagers more vulnerable to concussions, they’re also susceptible to second impact syndrome – when people receive a second concussive blow before fully recovering from the first – which can cause permanent brain damage and even death. Because of the threat of second impact syndrome, it’s imperative that young athletes are completely healthy before they return to the playing field.
To help remove the guesswork from return-to-play decisions, Lawrence County Football Team Physicians, Dr. Spencer Harris and Dr. Chad McCreary have become credentialed providers of ImPACT, a 20-minute neuropsychological testing program that measures memory and function brain speed. Used by NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB teams, ImPACT provides a tool that allows these physicians to compare pre and post-injury brain performance. Both doctors, who are family practice physicians, and members of the medical staff at Three Rivers Medical Center, are the credentialed ImPACT consultants.
Implemented with football and girls soccer this fall, teams and individuals can undergo baseline testing. If an athlete who’s been pretested is injured, he or she will take another version of the test, post-injury. Because concussion affects the speed in which people remember information and complete tasks, doctors can use the test result to objectively compare brain function before and after the injure.
“I was contacted by Greg Kiser, the CEO at Three Rivers Medical Center. He shared that TRMC would like to make a program available to our students that could benefit them in case the student suffered from a concussion,” said Lawrence County Superintendent Mike Armstrong of the program.
“This opportunity to collaborate, to the benefit of our student-athletes, is such a valuable relationship. The willingness of TRMC to invest in the health and well-being of our students ultimately benefits our students in their academic progress. This shared goal then benefits our entire community,” Armstrong said.
When used together with physical examinations and balance testing, ImPACT, can help doctors and other sports medicine personnel determine when student athletes can safely return to play. ImPACT is not a diagnostic tool or sole determinant of an athletes’ readiness, but it can give the team physicians a more complete picture of an athlete’s recovery.
“Our entire team was screened before the season. Dr. McCreary and Dr. Harris in conjunction with Three Rivers Medical Center provided their time and resources to ensure all our athletes were screened,” commented Lawrence County Head Football Coach Joe Cecil. “Anytime we can do something to further the safety measures for our student/athletes is extremely beneficial. The data we gather supplies a baseline, which if a concussion where to occur, gives us more information in making the return to play decision. This actually goes above and beyond the Kentucky Medical Associations return to play protocol and I am deeply appreciative of the support we have from our hospital and doctors.”
Three Rivers Medical Center CEO Greg Kiser credited Drs. Harris and McCreary for the program.
“Dr. Chad McCreary and Dr. Spencer Harris came to me during football season a couple of years ago and said they wanted to start this program and asked me to fund it. I said we will be glad to and do whatever it takes to continue this each year thereafter. I am very proud of these two physicians for stepping up and doing this for our kids… not just football but all contact sports,” Kiser said.
These physicians recognize the value of competition, but their first priority is the long-term health of student athletes. They use every tool at their disposal to ensure that young athletes are playing it safe in Lawrence County and are proud to introduce concussion management to the area.
By Molly BurchettKentucky Health NewsFRANKFORT, Ky. -- A little-known but key part of federal health reform created a new kind of health insurance -- a cooperative that is neither public, like Medicare and Medicaid, or run for profit, like traditional insurance companies. And the Kentucky Health Cooperative is offering coverage this week, with the opening of the state health-insurance exchange.Kentucky is one of 23 states with plans the law designated as Consumer Operated and Oriented, or "co-ops," designed to give for-profit companies more competition and hold down rates. The plans have received more than $2 billion in federal loans to build themselves from scratch, but have been operating largely under the radar.
Janie Miller (AP)"The co-op program is an extremely little known part of the Affordable Care Act," Kentucky Health Cooperative CEO Janie Miller said in an interview with Kentucky Health News. "It's been very difficult to get people to understand what the co-op is and why they should care."The Co-Op provision was a political compromise in the Affordable Care Act, developed as an alternative to the "public option" of a government-run plan. "It's the closest thing you can probably get to a public option," said Miller. “We [cooperatives] are created to be the non-profit options in most states… specifically for the uninsured and under-insured. ”But the co-op could also help all insurance buyers, by pushing private insurers to set premiums lower than they would without non-profit competition. "Since we are non-profit, we don’t have to add a profit margin to our products, so our price should be competitive," Miller said. "We believe the addition of the Kentucky Health Cooperative will be positive for Kentucky consumers by bringing more competition to the market," said Ronda Sloan, spokesperson for the state Department of Insurance, which approves premium rates. "While Humana is offering a limited service area, both Anthem and the Kentucky Health Cooperative are offering plans statewide." READ MORE
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