Watch out for Medicare Part D, Advantage fraud during the open-enrollment period

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TOPEKA, Kan. – During the ongoing open-enrollment period for Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans, Sandy Praeger, Commissioner of Insurance, is urging 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 Advantage or drug plan has the best intentions,” Praeger said. “Educating yourselves is very important in fighting potential fraud and illegal sales.”

The open-enrollment period for Medicare Prescription Drug Plan and Medicare Advantage plans began Oct. 15 and ends Dec. 7, 2014.

To protect your family members or yourself from scam artists intent on taking advantage of the situation, Praeger offers the follow tips.

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 or 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 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 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. Salespeople are not allowed to request such personal information in their marketing activities, and they cannot ask for payment over the Internet. They must send the beneficiary a bill. Once 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 “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.

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

Kansas Medicare beneficiaries can also contact the Senior Health Insurance Counseling for Kansas (SHICK) for information about Medicare issues. The state help line is 800-860-5260.


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