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Medicare

Watch Out for Medicare Scams

Now is the time for the annual enrollment period (Oct. 15 – Dec. 7) for Medicare Advantage plans (Part C) and the Medicare Prescription Drug (Part D) Program. Unfortunately, this is also a time for scammers to prey on people who may be uncertain about how the program works.

In a news release, the California Dept. of Insurance talks about what to look out for during the enrollment period for this nationwide program:

Medicare does not have official sales representatives: Don’t believe a salesperson who claims to be a Medicare representative. Medicare does not send “representatives” to solicit your business.

Unsolicited sales calls are prohibited: Federal regulations prohibit unsolicited telephone calls, door- to-door visits, emails and other forms of sales without your permission. If you have not requested that someone contact you it may be a scam.

Guard your personal information: Never give out personal information such as your Social Security number, bank account numbers, or credit card information over the telephone. Verify that the person you are dealing with has proper authority to act on behalf of the plan before you provide your Medicare number. Keep a record of who you speak with and the information that you provide to that person.

Beware of cross-selling: Cross-selling occurs when a salesperson approaches you for one purpose but then tries to sell you something else. This could lead to an unplanned purchase of a product that may not be in your best interest. Salespeople may not market health care-related products (such as annuities, life insurance, etc.) during a Medicare Advantage or Part D sales activity.

Take your time: Don’t feel pressured to make a quick decision. Be sure that you understand the details of a plan before you enroll. Verify copayment amounts and whether your medical providers participate in the plan that you are considering.

You don’t have to make a change: If you are satisfied that your current plan will meet your needs for the coming year, you don’t need to change plans. Confirm the details of your current plan before making a switch.

If you have any concerns, don’t hesitate to bring them to the attention of the Medicare program. Visit  www.medicare.gov. If you live in California, you can also contact the state Insurance Department at 1-800-927-4357 or www.insurance.ca.gov.

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