Protect yourself from misleading Medicare sales pitches and scams
Medicare and health insurance related scams are extremely common, especially against older adults. A recent report from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) showed that in 2021, older adults lost $121 million to scammers claiming to be from a government organization like Medicare. They lost another $151 million to scammers claiming to be from businesses like health insurance companies. While these scams could happen at any time, they increase during the Medicare annual enrollment period, which is going on now through Dec. 7.
The annual enrollment period is also when consumers are inundated with flashy advertisements and pushy phone calls about Medicare Advantage and other health plans. These messages can be tantalizing, but advertisement promises and sales pitches can be confusing and sometimes misleading.
How to protect yourself
It’s a good idea to work with a local health insurance agent who has a deep knowledge of the plan options available in your area, including an understanding of what hospitals and providers are in-network. An agent can simplify and explain the various options and help you choose the plan that’s right for you. Local agents will also continue to serve you and provide personalized customer service throughout the year.
If you need help finding an agent near you, call us and we’ll connect with you a licensed agent in your area. Our phone number is 844-734-3623. TTY: 711. We’re open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
How to spot and avoid a scam
- Someone you don’t know contacts you asking for money or your personal information. Government representatives won’t contact you to ask for money or personal information like your Medicare or Social Security numbers. Don’t click the email link or give the information over the phone.
- You’re being pressured to act quickly or face serious consequences. Legitimate plans should be willing to send you written information and give you the chance to check out their claims before you enroll. If someone is pressuring you to act quickly or threatening that you’ll lose your coverage if you don’t sign up right away, it’s likely a scam. Take the time to check out offers and get details in writing before you sign up.
- You’re asked to share your sensitive personal information in exchange for a price quote. You shouldn’t need to share anything beyond your monthly income and your age to get a price quote. Never share personal financial information like your Social Security number, bank account, or credit card number to get a quote for health insurance.
- The salesperson is giving vague answers. It’s a red flag if a salesperson won’t give you specific details about the coverage, like deductibles, co-pays, and in-network providers. A legitimate plan representative should be able to answer your questions without having to refer you to another source like a brochure or website.
- It sounds too good to be true. Be skeptical if a salesperson or advertisement is promising huge discounts or unusually low premiums and deductibles. Do your own research and verify all claims before you commit to anything.
Be sure to report scams
If you think you’ve spotted a scam, report it to help protect others. Report any health insurance scams to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov and to your state attorney general. Report Medicare scams to the office of the Inspector General or call 1-800-633-4227. TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.