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Consumers face dubious Obamacare enrollment pitches as official site continues to stall


A story in Thursday's paper describes the health care outreach of a group that appears to be affiliated with President Barack Obama and his signature law but is really a front for a Florida insurance agency. An excerpt:

"Obamacare Enrollment Center,'' announced the banner hanging from the pulpit. It even bore the "O" logo from President Obama's campaign.

But the self-proclaimed "Obamacare Enrollment Team'' that rolled into Florida's capital this week has no official connection with the president or his signature health law. It is a front for a Stuart-based insurance agency now accused of trying to dupe consumers into buying health insurance.

Affordable Care Act advocates long have worried about unofficial sales efforts, and with the law's continued technical problems, frustrated consumers may be increasingly vulnerable to promises of easier access to the system.

Dealing with an unofficial pitch carries at least two problems: First, you could be scammed entirely. Secondly, even if you buy a legitimate insurance policy, you might lose out on tax subsidies offered under the health care law.

The only way lower- and middle-income consumers can get a subsidy is through official channels.

"Obamacare Enrollment Team'' is the brand used by the Fiorella Insurance Agency to market policies during the health care rollout, especially to minorities in urban areas. The group solicits through a network of websites, none of which disclosed ties to the insurance agency until after reporters started poking around.

Attorney General Pam Bondi's office received a complaint from a woman who said she worked for Illinois' official health insurance marketplace and became concerned after watching the Obamacare Enrollment Team in action at a Chicago job fair earlier this month. It also has held events in Detroit.

Read more here.