California Shuts Down Sites Mimicking State Insurance Marketplace -

LOS ANGELES—The California attorney general’s office has shut down 10 websites that mimicked state’s official health insurance marketplace, the attorney general, Kamala Harris, announced Wednesday.

“These websites fraudulently imitated Covered California in order to lure consumers away from plans that provide the benefits of the Affordable Care Act,” Ms. Harris said in a prepared statement. “My office will continue to investigate and shut down these kinds of sites.”

While not without its own hiccups, the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has been smoother in California than in many other parts of the country. Covered California, the state’s insurance exchange, enrolled more people in private healthcare plans during the first month of open enrollment than any other state health exchange or the beleaguered federal marketplace, which serves 36 states.

Ms. Harris’s announcement on Wednesday was the latest example of state officials in California, where Democrats hold all statewide offices, enthusiastically pushing Californians to buy healthcare plans on the state’s exchange.

“I urge Californians to avoid healthcare scams by visiting,” Ms. Harris said.

The attorney general’s office began investigating websites that imitated Covered California in September.

The sites all used domain names similar to, including and, and they used phrases like “Get Covered” and “Covered California” to attract consumers, according to the attorney general’s office. However, the sites were operated by private health insurance brokers not affiliated with the state’s official exchange.

The California Affordable Care Act prohibits entities from claiming to provide services on behalf of Covered California without a valid agreement with the state exchange. Multiple website operators were sent cease and desist orders, demanding they either shut the sites down, or redirect traffic to the official Covered California website, and ten operators have now been shut down, according to the attorney general’s office.

In urging residents to visit the state exchange, Ms. Harris warned that health insurance plans sold outside the official exchange before Jan. 1, 2014, would not qualify for federal subsidies, and would not have the consumer protections guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act.