Targeting Vets – Deceptive Practices in Health Insurance

We listen to you. We want to help service members and veterans and fill our blog with stories that you will find interesting. Over the last couple of weeks we have received a number of story suggestions for scams aimed at veterans, whether they are business scams or healthcare and insurance frauds being perpetrated against our military or former military members.

When I first started investigating this problem, I didn’t realize just how widespread it was. It is one thing to find a complaint on the Better Business Bureau website about a company; it is quite different to find 50. Especially if 90% of these complaints are by veterans.

However, libel laws being what they are, I can’t be specific about the company or companies that are perpetrating these scams. What I can do, however, is explain how these companies target veterans and what they do to steal your money from you.

You can’t cheat an honest man

If it were only this simple. With the advent of more sophisticated means of communication and the increasing complexity of laws and regulations governing insurance, you can cheat an honest man. All you have to do is offer insurance, for example, and then find a multitude of ways not to pay if there is a claim filed against it.

There are some companies out there that have made a habit of this, and many of these companies are well-established and have been in business for years. They excuse their behavior by claiming that all of their policies are spelled out in fine print, but they are practicing deceptive marketing.

Baiting the hook

If you have served over 22 years in the military, which makes you eligible for Tricare for Life coverage, and you are over 65 years old, which makes you eligible for Medicare, you will undoubtedly start to receive mail or phone calls from 3rd parties offering ‘supplemental insurance’ coverage. Your military service length and age are public knowledge, and the information can be obtained legally (and is often done so for a number of reasons). However, the insurance companies that call or mail you information aren’t trying to help you.

If you read the policy (and you should read it!) you will see that the supplemental coverage only pays after all other insurance policies, including Tricare and Medicare, pay first. In addition, it will inform you that any listed benefits are reduced by 50% if you are over 70 years old. For your $25.00 per month, you receive nothing.

This scam, or deceptive marketing practice, sounds great because the sales pitch is worded in such a way that it sounds like it will reduce your out of pocket expenses for expensive medical procedures to nil. It doesn’t. Many of these insurance companies won’t pay out for any reason, and Tricare and Medicare do.

Doing your part

The only way to stop these companies from cheating veterans is to inform potential victims about the problems. The Department of Justice has a fraud website set up for complaints and information. If you are a victim of a scam, let others know about it. For legal help, contact your state’s attorney general.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are the opinion of the writer and do not reflect the policies of this website or organization.

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Matt Towns

Matt is a former military journalist who spent 10 years in the US Navy. He served in various posts during his career, including a couple of deployments on the USS Valley Forge (CG-50). After leaving the Navy, he worked in management for a number of years before opening his own businesses. He ran those businesses until 2012 when he chose to leave the retail industry and return to writing. Matt currently works as a freelance writer, contributing to the US Patriot blog and other websites about political affairs, military activities and sailing.
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