BBB warns consumers to beware of individuals pitching Medicare drug, supplement or Medicare Advantage plans during open enrollment.
Scammers often see an opportunity to take advantage of seniors who might not understand the enrollment process with open enrollment for Medicare drug, supplement and Medicare Advantage plan.
Medicare doesn’t call consumers to enroll them in plans, so consumers should hangup on any caller who claims that to be from Medicare and wants to verify personal information.
Alabama seniors can get help from the Alabama’s State Health Insurance Program (SHIP). Contact the program by calling the local Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-AGE-LINE (1-800-243-5463).
For more information, you can visit http://www.AlabamaAgeline.gov.
Your BBB offers the following tips to help seniors avoid fraud:
- Verify that a salesperson is a licensed insurance agent. You can call Alabama’s State Insurance Consumer Services at 334-241-4141.\
- Be wary of door-to-door salespeople. Medicare does not have sales representatives, and agents cannot solicit Medicare plans at your home without an appointment.
- Avoid sales people who offer free lunches for listening to a sales presentation. Federal law prohibits offers of free meals in exchange for signing up for a plan or listening to a presentation on Medicare.
- Do not give personal information to an unlicensed agent. Salespeople are not allowed to ask for a Social Security, bank account or credit card number during marketing activities. When you do enroll, you may need to provide such information, but make sure the salesperson is legitimate by calling the numbers above.
- Insurance salespeople cannot ask for online payments. They must send a bill. Once you decide to buy a plan and have verified the agent is licensed, then you may give the agent personal information for enrollment and billing.
- Medicare has strict rules on forbidden sales practices. Also, remember that Medicare is not part of the federal health insurance marketplace (exchange) under the Affordable Care Act. The marketplace is not meant to serve Medicare recipients.
- If you find the process confusing or need help, ask a relative or trusted friend to come with you when you are talking to a sales representative or searching for plans online.
As always, call the Better Business Bureau with any questions or concerns at (256) 850-0719.