The annual open enrollment period gives you the power to change your Medicare health or drug coverage to better suit your needs. Unfortunately, many online and offline con artists use this to their advantage.
Here are some red flags you should look for, plus tips to stay protected:
Ways Medicare Con Artists Try to Trick You
- Someone states you have a pending refund from last year’s plan premiums or drug costs.
- You get a call touting new coverage that comes with huge discounts.
- You get a call offering a new health card in exchange for a fee.
- A person tries signing you up to a plan that doesn’t exist.
- An agent contacts you offering gifts in exchange for enrolling in their plan.
- An agent uses time limits to pressure you into enrollment.
- An agent tries to sell you a plan that doesn’t match your needs.
- A person offers information on a plan, but requests personal data such as your Social Security number, Medicare number, or financial information first.
What can happen if you give a scammer your personal information? They can use it to put you in a plan without your permission. That’s why it’s best to only work with a trusted, reputable agent or company.
What Health Insurance Agents Cannot Do
Health insurance agents have a specific set of rules they must abide by. They cannot do any of the following:
- Approach a beneficiary in public. A beneficiary must approach the agent in a health care setting or at a public event.
- Conduct sales or marketing activities in hospital patient rooms, exam rooms, pharmacy counter areas, or dialysis centers. Such activities must be conducted in common areas.
- Use the term “Medicare” misleadingly, including stating that they are “from Medicare.”
- Leave voicemail messages or send text messages that are unsolicited. They must have documented permission to do so via prior contact with a beneficiary from a sales or marketing event.
If an agent or broker is breaking any of those rules, they may be trying to scam you.
Tips to Prevent Medicare Open Enrollment Fraud
Besides being aware of the red flags and other issues above, follow these tips to prevent Medicare fraud during open enrollment and beyond:
- Do not give out your Medicare number to anyone besides your doctor or other providers.
- Do not give out your personal information to anyone requesting it over the phone, unless it’s a company you know and trust.
- Take your time in making decisions regarding your Medicare coverage during open enrollment. If someone is trying to pressure you, they probably don’t have your best interests at heart.
- Know that Medicare communicates via mail. Health care plans are not allowed to cold call.
Medicare scams can occur year-round. Due to the current open enrollment period, however, you may see more calls from unknown numbers than usual.
Follow the tips in this article, and you should be safe from scammers looking to capitalize on your desire to find the perfect Medicare plan.