Right now, there are over 40 convicted criminals working as Obamacare navigators in the state of California, and that includes three people with records of serious financial felonies.
Even though some of the offenses are very old, and even though convicted criminals just make up one percent of the people enrolled to be counselors in the program in the state, Californians still have the right to be worried about their privacy.
Even just one shady navigator could do a ton of harm to the public. The reason is that navigators sign individuals up for health insurance, as a part of the Affordable Care Act, and that means that they have access to a ton of private information, including financial data, home addresses, and Social Security numbers – basically, anything a fraudster or identity thief could want. Navigators are sometimes even more likely to work with a population that is a lot more vulnerable than the average population group.
Some statistics released by the new healthcare exchange in California, Covered California, show that one navigator has several forgery offenses – one back in 1982, another one in 1994, and that he had a burglary in between. Another one had some forgery convictions in 1988, and he also had a domestic abuse charge about ten years later. There was another who committed welfare fraud back in 1999, and he had shoplifted on at least two previous occasions. Since the year 2000, people now working as navigators have been convicted of a lot of crimes, including evading a police officer, petty theft, battery, and child abuse. There were a minimum of seven navigators who had multiple convictions. The information that was released only pertained to certified enrollment counselors, one of the three kinds of navigators who were working in California.
These statistics raised a controversial and delicate issue. If you look at it from one perspective, it’s in the best interest of the public to give prior criminals a chance to get rehabilitated and reformed and make themselves a living in a real economy. On the other hand, though, innocent consumers need to have adequate privacy protection of their private financial information, especially when they are being forced to purchase something.
Just last year, Republican lawmakers in California made an unsuccessful request to Covered California to set up a policy that forbade anyone with a previous conviction, regardless of the date, from working as a navigator.
A Republican speaking out on the issue said that even one person can do a lot of harm with access to any kind of information, and you can run into the possibility even with people with clean records, so you definitely don’t want to increase your odds of something bad happening by mixing up the navigator pool with people with criminal records. He said that you could have a little bit of an argument if someone did something a long time ago, but that it was still dangerous to put that kind of private information into the hands of those kinds of people.