Preventing Medicare Fraud during Medicare Open Enrollment

November 10, 2016

Medicare marketing scams often happen during Medicare Open Enrollment, October 15th – December 7th, when beneficiaries can choose or make changes to their Medicare coverage for the upcoming year. Some beneficiaries work with a licensed agent to review their Medicare coverage, but in Minnesota, the Senior LinkAge Line® can help for free.

The Senior LinkAge Line® is a service of the Minnesota Board on Aging and does not sell or market any health plans or insurance products. The Board also publishes Health Care Choices for Minnesotans on Medicare, which is a comprehensive Medicare guide, specific to Minnesota. It is available online or call 1-800-333-2433 to request a free copy.

For those who do decide to use an insurance agent, it is very important to understand what agents can and cannot do during open enrollment.

Agents can:

  • Issue information and forms in a retail setting or while participating at a health fair or promotional event
  • Travel to meet Medicare beneficiaries in their home, if invited
  • Provide consumers with information about public assistance programs and help them apply for government subsidies

Agents cannot:

  • Send unsolicited e-mails
  • Solicit door-to-door
  • Use fraudulent or dishonest practices
  • Collect names, addresses and enrollment applications or conduct sales presentations at health fairs, educational or promotional events
  • Sell products that are not health-related during a Medicare Advantage or prescription drug plan sales or marketing presentation
  • Provide meals at promotional and sales events
  • Sell products in health care settings (doctors’ offices, pharmacies, etc.)
  • Be untruthful or leave out information about a comparative Medicare product to get a person to buy or change their insurance

So how can you avoid becoming a victim of predatory sales tactics?

  • Be wary of people who claim they work for Medicare. Medicare representatives don’t make house calls or call beneficiaries.
  • Be cautious of people selling Medicare products door-to-door. If someone comes to your home without a scheduled appointment, don’t let them into your home or provide them with personal information.
  • Be wary of insurance agents who tell you it’s free to enroll in a Medicare program. Premiums are associated with most Medicare products.
  • Be careful of insurance agents who tell you your enrollment in a Medicare Advantage Plan will not affect your Medicare coverage. When you sign up for a Medicare Advantage Plan you will be removed from your traditional Medicare plan and may incur more expenses in terms of deductibles and co-payments.
  • Do NOT be persuaded by an insurance agent who tries to scare you into believing your Medicare rates are going to increase if you don’t switch plans immediately.

If you want help reviewing your plan options, the Senior LinkAge Line® can help. Call 1-800-333-2433 for free, objective assistance. Staff are also available by chat at Monday thru Friday 8:00am – 4:30pm.