Another common ploy involves unsolicited calls from scammers who claim to have your new “Obamacare” insurance card – they just need to get some information before they can send it to you. The caller then asks for credit card numbers, bank account information or your Social Security number. A variation of this trick specifically targets seniors on Medicare; the caller claims that in order for them to get their new Medicare card and continue receiving their benefits, they must verify their bank account and routing numbers. Some callers ask for their Medicare numbers, which are identical to Social Security numbers.
You are not required to obtain a new insurance or Medicare card under the ACA. Also, anyone who is a legitimate representative of the federal government will already have your personal and financial information and should not ask you to provide it.
Don't Be Misled
Here are some other important “red flags” to watch out for:
The salesperson says the premium offer is only good for a limited time.
Enrollment in the exchanges will be open from Oct. 1 to March 31, and rates for plans in the exchanges will have been approved for the entire enrollment period. Be skeptical of someone who is trying to pressure you into buying a policy because the rate is only good for a short time. Remember: if the offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
The salesperson says you could go to jail for not having health insurance.
Starting in 2014, all Americans will be required to have health insurance. You will not face jail time if you do not purchase health insurance. However, those who remain uninsured and do not qualify for any exemptions will face a penalty of $95 (for each adult) or 1% of family income, whichever is greater. In 2015, the penalty will increase to $325 per adult or 2% of family income, and in 2016 and beyond, the penalty will be $695 per adult or 2.5% of family income.
You receive an unsolicited phone call or email from someone trying to sell insurance.
The federal government and state insurance departments will not be contacting individual consumers to sell them insurance. Do not give any sensitive information to anyone who claims to be with the federal government, your state insurance department or a navigator for your state’s exchange.
The best way to protect yourself from insurance fraud is to research the agent and company you’re considering. Always STOP before writing a check, signing a contract or giving out personal information. CONFIRM that the agent and company are licensed to write insurance in Minnesota by using the License lookup tool.
Open Enrollment for Medicare: October 15 through December 7. For information on special enrollment periods, visit the Medicare website
Unfortunately, Medicare Part D is not immune to fraudulent activity. Scammers may use the opportunity to take advantage of seniors who are making important decisions about these prescription drug plans. Here are some ways to help protect you and your money from fraudulent schemes. Here are some ways to help protect you and your money from fraudulent schemes.
What Not to Do When Enrolling in Part D
Protect your personal information is sacred. Do not give out your personal information until you are certain that the person you are working with is from Medicare or a private insurance company participating in the Medicare program. Your Medicare number is just as important as your Social Security number. Be sure to protect it along with the rest of your personal information.
Beware of the Telephone. There is no way to enroll in a drug plan over the telephone… unless you call the company. Do not give out your information to a solicitor. Also, payments cannot be made over the telephone. The plan you choose must send you a bill if you do enroll via telephone or web. Sales associates of Medicare Part D cannot call after 9 p.m. or before 8 a.m. by federal law.
Enrollment into Medicare Part D is Free. Though you will have to pay premiums and deductibles, no one should charge you for assistance in filling out the forms. Make sure you know where your money is going.
Rx Marks the Spot. Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will have the "Medicare approved" stamp on each piece of material they send you. Any mail you receive regarding Part D without the seal is not approved by Medicare.
What To Do When Enrolling in Part D
Stay Current. Save any letters you receive from your former employers and insurance plan about your current prescription drug coverage. Keep a folder with any information you receive that may pertain to prescription drug coverage.
Know who you can Trust. Family members and friends are important in this process. Sometimes it can help to talk it over when something about a plan is not clear. Area senior centers and local organizations working through Medicare and your physician are also available for consultation. For further clarification, call 1-800-Medicare or visit www.medicare.gov for support.
Enroll on time. The annual enrollment period will run from October 15 through December 7. For information about initial enrollment and special enrollment periods, go to www.medicare.gov.
What We Know
Insurance Fraud happens. There have been - and always will be - people who attempt to take advantage of seniors. Regulators can't always stop it from happening, but, if we receive information that illegal activity is occurring in the insurance industry, we will investigate. It is important to remember, that even if we do investigate the case, you may not get back the money you lost.
Buyers beware. There are some plans in the system that look good but have hidden costs and potential problems. For example, some plans with low monthly premiums require you to make a payment every time you see your medical provider. Some of these plans are complicated and often not the best choice for those who need medical and prescription coverage. Be sure to ask your agent or doctor about the specifics of the lower cost plans before committing to one. Some doctors will not accept these plans.
For More Information Regarding Part D Contact the Minnesota Senior Linkage Line. They provide free health insurance counseling to people with Medicare. They can be reached at 1-800-333-2433.
To Report Fraudulent Activity:
1-800-MEDICARE (TTY users should call 1-877-486-2048)
The Fraud Hotline of the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General at 1-800-447-8477
The Federal Trade Commissions ID Theft hotline at 1-877-438-4338 (TTY users call 1-866-653-4261)
For suspected fraudulent activity of insurance agents, contact the Minnesota Department of Commerce Consumer Response Team at 651-539-1600 or 800-657-3602.
Both State and Federal Government agencies are working hard to crack down on fraudulent companies and individuals. Please report any suspicious sales activities or phone conversations as soon as you learn about them. This helps keep the approved Medicare plans separate from those not approved.
Medicare is health insurance for people age 65 or older or under age 65 with certain disabilities. Insurance companies who wish to sell Medicare supplement policies in Minnesota must be approved by the Department of Commerce. The guides below are designed to give consumers a better understanding of rates.