Medicare Open Enrollment brings out the scammers

If you’re at least 65 years of age or have a loved one who is, you probably know that we’re in the Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) for 2022. It began on Oct. 15 and runs through Dec. 7. During this period, those eligible for Medicare can choose their plan for the coming year.

This can be a highly confusing process, even if this isn’t the first year you’ve been eligible. Between the Medicare plans administered by the state and the added options (Part C and Part D) sold and administered by private insurance companies, the options can seem overwhelming.

Insurers who offer these Medicare plans have to abide by federal regulations when marketing and selling these plans. Unfortunately, there are some unscrupulous insurance agents who will do whatever it takes to sell seniors plans they don’t need, get them to pay for something that doesn’t exist or get their personal information and use it unscrupulously

Beware of unsolicited phone calls and visits

No insurance agent besides your own should be calling you. Insurers are only allowed to call current policyholders. If you’re at all unsure about the identity of the person calling you, don’t give them any information. If they’re legitimate, they should have your plan and personal information. 

Insurance agents are not allowed to come to your home uninvited. Beware of anyone who leaves flyers at your door or on your car. 

What are agents legally forbidden from doing?

Before you talk or meet with an agent, it’s crucial to know what they are not allowed to do under the law. For example, they cannot:

  • Talk about any product you didn’t specifically ask for information on
  • Say or suggest that Medicare prefers or endorses their plan
  • Tell you the deadline is anything prior to Dec. 7 or that you get a better deal if you sign up early

If you find a plan you like, don’t sign up until you’ve read the documentation thoroughly and confirmed with your doctor(s) that they accept the plan. You should never be pressured to sign up immediately.

If you believe you were contacted by someone trying to perpetrate a fraud, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has options for reporting it. If you or a loved one has lost money or been the victim of identity theft in a Medicare scam, it’s wise to see legal guidance to find out the best way to seek justice.