There has been a rise in Medicare-related spam in the last month sent to US-based ISPs, which coincides with the start of the Affordable Care Act open enrollment period. Here is an image from one of those spam messages:
Spammers are obviously trying to take advantage of the press surrounding the Affordable Care Act rollout and confuse recipients about the difference between Medicare Supplement plans and health insurance available through the Affordable Care Act exchanges. Those enrolled in Medicare are not required to purchase insurance through the ACA exchanges. Medicare supplement plans are optional and cover health costs not covered by Medicare, and are *not* available in ACA exchanges. ACA exchanges sell health insurance for those not eligible for Medicare. Only those persons not enrolled in Medicare and not already covered by employer-provided health insurance are required to buy insurance through ACA exchanges.
Some sample subject lines from these spams include:
Medicare open enrollment For 2014 ends Dec 7 – Find a plan today..
Medicare Supplement Insurance information. Health coverage for seniors …
Medicare Enrollment Must be Done Today (face fines for not choosing)
Medicare enrollment period for 2013. Compare plans before the deadline …
The increase in Medicare-related spams really took off in mid-September, around two weeks before the Oct 1 start of the ACA open enrollment period. This chart shows the number of Spam and Honeypot reports with subjects containing “Medicare” in the last 90 days. There’s a 10-fold increase in the average volume for the first two weeks (Jul 24-Aug 7) compared to the last two weeks (Oct 4-20):
We can probably expect to see more spam messages, and probably phishing messages as well, as participation in the Affordable Care Act exchanges ramps up.