Open enrollment for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage is fast approaching, and scammers are already on the prowl. From October 15 through December 7, many Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolling and making decisions about whether to make changes to their Medicare or Medicare Advantage plans. Because a lot of personal information will be disclosed during this type of change, BBB reminds consumers to be aware of people posing as official registration personnel attempting to collect personally identifiable information (PIN).
BBB Scam Tracker often receives reports of scammers pretending to be government officials or “health care benefits advocates” that can help you navigate your health insurance options. The scammers claim to be a “health care benefits advocate” or similar title. These scammers claim that they can sign you up for a better program than the one you currently have. This new plan is cheaper and you can keep all the same services. To get started, all you need to do is provide some personal information, such as your Medicare ID number. Of course, the call is a scam and sharing personal information exposes you to identity theft.
In another common scam, callers attempt to scare — rather than help — victims with their healthcare plans. In this case, the scammers claim that your health insurance will be terminated if you do not re-enroll. Luckily, this “Medicare advisor” can fix the situation – if you share personal information with them.
“Selecting a health insurance plan can be difficult and complex,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and CEO of BBB in East Central Texas. “Scammers often see open registrations as a chance to trick individuals with money and personal information.”
BBB offers the following ways to prevent health insurance fraud:
Compare the prices. Make sure you get the plan that best suits your needs at the best price. Shop and compare plans on www.medicare.gov. You can also contact the state health insurance program at (900) 252-9240.
Refuse promotional gifts in exchange for personal information. Maintain a healthy level of skepticism whenever a broker offers you free gifts, health checks or other special offers. Never enroll with a broker who offers you an expensive “enrollment gift” in exchange for providing your Medicare ID number or other personally identifiable information.
Protect your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan information, or banking information to anyone you don’t know.
Check the license. The population eligible for Medicare is growing every year, which makes selling Medicare plans big business. Independent agents and brokers selling plans must be licensed, and the plan must tell the state which agents are selling plans on behalf of the company. Before making any decisions, verify that the agent has the correct credentials with a known company. Start by trust at bbb.org for company information or contact the Texas Department of Insurance at tdi.texas.gov.
Dodge bogus locations. Phone calls, door-to-door, phishing emails, postal offers, health fairs, dinner parties, contests or prizes have all been used to attract time-pressed or confused people. by their health insurance options.
Hang up if:
- You receive an out-of-pocket call. Individuals representing health insurance plans are not permitted to contact you by phone, email, or in person, unless you specifically request to be contacted.
- The caller uses high-pressure sales or offers for “early bird discounts” during open enrollment for lower monthly premiums. Don’t forget that you have until December 7 to make your decision.
- The caller offers a “special plan made just for you”.
- The caller requests payment or personal information in advance.
- Claims that there is a problem with your plan or that there is a new card for your plan and asks you for an update.
Medicare is a federal government program run by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which means there are strict rules about prohibited sales practices. Medicare is not part of healthcare.gov.
For additional resources, contact the Texas Health and Human Services at (855) 937-2372 and Texas Senior Medicare Patrol at (888) 341-6187. Please report any fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices to BBB Scam Tracker. . Remember that there are big companies out there. Always look for the BBB seal; it is the sign of a better companySM . Start with companies you can trust by going to bbb.org.
About BBB: BBB is a business-supported non-profit organization that sets and maintains high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most of BBB’s consumer services are free. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB business profiles on over 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity ratings, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting market confidence . Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties.