Medicare Open Enrollment is taking place now through December 7. At this time of year, millions of Americans age 65 and older review their coverage and decide on any changes for the next year. Unfortunately, this is also the time of year when scammers reach out offering to help you buy a better package. If you need to update your plan, work through a licensed health insurance agent. Below are some common scams to be aware of:
1 – New Card Scam
In phone calls, emails or even visits, you are told that Medicare is issuing new cards. To receive yours, you’ll need to provide identifying information such as your Medicare number, birth date or bank account numbers. The goal of this scam is identity theft.
Medicare representatives never call you and ask for identifying information.
2 – Fake Medicare Agents
Someone who claims to be a “healthcare benefits advocate” calls or shows up at your door. They offer to enroll you in a better Medicare plan that is cheaper and lets you keep all your services. You just have to give them your personal information, such as your Medicare ID number. Sometimes the offer includes a free gift or health screening.
Medicare representatives do not call you or come to your home uninvited. They call you only if you are already a part of the plan. They will also return your call if you left a message. Assume unsolicited calls are not legitimate.
3 – Threatened Loss of Coverage
For this scam, seniors receive a call saying they must buy Medicare Part D prescription benefits or they will lose their other coverage. The caller offers to sell a prescription plan to help the senior increase their benefits and retain their coverage.
Any sales pitch that makes keeping your coverage contingent upon buying new coverage is a scam. The Medicare prescription coverage is an optional addition to your basic Medicare coverage (parts A and B). This is also true for Medicare Supplement Insurance, called Medigap.
4 – Rebate Notice Scam
Scammers say you have a rebate coming due to enhancements in Medicare, meeting deductibles or due to lawsuits or actions by government agencies. You just need to provide your bank account information so funds can be direct deposited into your account. The goal of this scam is identity theft and access to your bank account.
If the government needs to send you a check, they will mail it to you. For those who receive Social Security, the government already has your banking information to issue a direct deposit.
Tips to Avoid Scams
There are a number of steps you can take to protect yourself from fraud while enrolling in or updating your Medicare coverage. Understand that most enrollment-related fraud occurs during each year’s open enrollment period, which is October 15 – December 7, 2020. Because most people enroll in Medicare within three months of turning 65, expect to hear from marketers, legitimate and otherwise, in the months leading up to that birthday.
If you’re overwhelmed by all the information, find an unbiased, licensed insurance agent to help you select a plan. Agents complete hours of training each year and have the specialized knowledge to help you find the right plan for your needs. Companies like HealthMarkets can provide a variety of options to choose from in terms of plans, prices and more.
Help ensure you protect yourself and your loved ones from Medicare scams this year and in the future. Keep your personal information out of the hands of scammers trying to take advantage of you.