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Watch out for Medicare fraud, scams during open enrollment period

During the upcoming open-enrollment period for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans, Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger urges Kansas Medicare beneficiaries to be alert to any potential scams surrounding sign-up activity.

Unfortunately, not everyone who contacts Medicare-age Kansans about switching to a Medicare drug plan has the best intentions. Education is important in fighting potential fraud and illegal sales. And, given the current health reform debates that Congress is engaged in, some unscrupulous people might try to take advantage by confusing certain aspects of the current proposals to scare beneficiaries into something they don’t need.

The open-enrollment period for Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and Medicare Advantage plans begins Sunday and ends Dec. 31. To protect family members from scam artists intent on taking advantage of the situation, here are some tips.

  • Beware of door-to-door salespeople. Agents cannot solicit business 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 to make sure the salesperson is a licensed agent. Call (800) 432-2484 to speak with a Consumer Assistance representative.
  • No marketing in educational or care settings is allowed. Federal regulations prohibit the marketing of Medicare products in places where health care is delivered or at an educational event.
  • No free lunches, either. Federal regulations prohibit offers of free meals for listening to a sales presentation 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. Salespeople are not allowed to request such personal information in their marketing activities and cannot ask for payment over the Internet. They must send the beneficiary a bill. When he or she has decided to purchase a plan and has verified that the agent is licensed, the customer may give the agent personal information to assist in enrollment and billing.
  • Verify that the plan chosen is an approved Medicare plan. All of the approved plans are available at www.medicare.gov under the “Plan Finder” section, or by calling (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.

With health care such an important topic in today’s society, consumers have to arm themselves with all the information they can. Being a savvy Medicare beneficiary or family member of a beneficiary helps all of us fight fraudulent activities.

Kansas Medicare consumers can contact our department’s Consumer Assistance Division for more information about Medicare Part D. Call (800) 432-2484.

Last modified Nov. 10, 2009

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