The current signup period for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans is a time when Kansas seniors should be especially alert to potential scams, according to Ken Selzer, CPA, Kansas Commissioner of Insurance.
“Kansans seeking Medicare Part D prescription drug plans and Medicare Advantage supplemental plans should work with trusted agents and counselors to find their best options,” Commissioner Selzer said. “Too many times unscrupulous sales people take advantage of seniors who have good intentions in shopping for their best choices.“
The open enrollment period for Part D and Medicare Advantage plans began Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7, with coverage to begin Jan. 1, 2016.
Commissioner Selzer offers these tips for protecting seniors from scammers intent on taking advantage of open enrollment:
• Beware of door-to-door salespeople. Agents cannot solicit business for either Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage Plans at your home without an appointment. Do not let uninvited agents into your home. Also, Medicare has no official sales representatives. Beware of any salesperson who says that he/she is a Medicare representative.
• Check with us at the Kansas Insurance Department (KID) to make sure the salesperson is a licensed agent. Call 800-432-2484 to speak with a KID Consumer Assistance representative.
• Realize no marketing is allowed in educational or care settings. Federal regulations prohibit the marketing of Medicare products in places where health care is delivered, or at an educational event.
• Understand that no free lunches are allowed, either. Federal regulations prohibit offers of free meals for listening to a sales presentation for a Medicare product or for signing up for a particular plan.
• Do not give out personal information, such as Social Security numbers, bank account numbers or credit card numbers to anyone not verified as a licensed agent. Also, a bill must be sent to the beneficiary; no Internet or phone payments can be made.
• Verify that the plan chosen is an approved Medicare plan. All of the approved plans are available at www.medicare.gov under the “Finding Plans” section, or by calling 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227).
• Read and understand the plan. Be sure that the chosen plan matches the beneficiary’s needs and that the beneficiary can continue to see his or her current health care providers if desired.
“Consumers need to arm themselves with all the information they can,” Commissioner Selzer said. “Educating yourselves is very important in fighting potential fraud and illegal sales.”
Kansas Medicare beneficiaries can also contact the Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK) for information about Medicare issues. The state help line is 1-800-860-5260.