Typosquatters were quick to register domain names similar to new health exchanges.
Yesterday marked the official start of the health insurance marketplaces under Obamacare. Residents of most states can shop for plans at HealthCare.gov, but 17 states and Washington D.C. have their own websites for their health exchanges.
The domain names selected by each state have no similarities. Some use .com, others .org, and still others .gov. Some use state abbreviations, others don’t.
What’s one thing they do all have in common? Cybersquatters and typosquatters are all over them.
Consider California, which calls its site Covered California. California gets the bonehead award, because someone beat it to registering CoveredCalifornia.com. I guess the state announced the name before registering the domain. It ended up registering CoveredCA.com, and now CoveredCalifornia.com is owned by Health Exchange Consulting Group, LLC.
It gets worse. Plug CoveredCA.com into DomainTools’ typo finder and you’ll find a long list of sites trying to capture people with fat fingers. There are actually quite a few insurance companies buying up typos, but most of the domains are protected by whois privacy. Example typos include wwwCoveredCa.com, Covreredca.com, and Covveredca.com. Some of these point to domain parking pages with pay-per-click ads while others point to health care lead generation sites.
With its population, California is certainly the top prize for typosquatters. Yet other states also face a challenge.
One mistake comes courtesy of Idaho, which hosts its exchange at YourHealthIdaho.org. This looks like another case of announcing the name before registering the domain. A third party owns YourHealthIdaho.com and uses it to pitch flexible spending accounts.
New York deserves credit for registering the exact match .com NYStateofHealth.com, even though it uses NYstateofHealth.ny.gov for its health insurance marketplace. It gets bonus points for forwarding the .com to the actual website.
Below is a list of state health exchanges and their URLs. You can plug them in at DomainTools to see how people are taking advantage of them.
New Mexico bewellNM.com
New York Nystateofhealth.ny.gov
Rhode Island HealthSourceRI.com
Utah AvenueH.com (for small businesses)