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Scams and fraud increase during the Medicare open enrollment period

Healthier Together: Avoid Medicare-related Scams
Posted at 1:42 PM, Oct 26, 2023

Medicare and health insurance-related scams are extremely common. In fact, a recent FTC report showed that older adults lost $121 million in 2021 to scammers claiming to be from a government organization like Medicare.

While scams, fraud and misleading sales pitches happen all the time, they increase during the Medicare annual enrollment period.

Michael Reeves is the assistant director of sales for government programs at Regence BlueCross BlueShield. He joined us to talk about ways to avoid getting taken advantage of and stay safe while choosing a Medicare Advantage health plan.

Signs of a Medicare-related scam:
• Someone you don't know asks for money or your personal information, like your Medicare number, your Social Security number or your credit card number.

• You're pressured to act quickly or face serious consequences, like losing your health plan benefits.

• It sounds too good to be true. Be skeptical if a salesperson or advertisement is promising huge discounts or unusually low premiums and deductibles.

• A salesperson won't give you specific details about the plan, like deductibles, co-pays, and in-network doctors.

A legitimate plan representative should be able to answer your questions without referring you to a brochure, website or other source.

It's important to understand that many benefits promoted by national commercials may not be available where you live. Medicare isn't a one-size-fits-all and cost savings are unique to every individual covered by a Medicare plan.

Older adults can avoid scams, fraud and Medicare Advantage plans that aren't a good fit by working with a local health insurance agent.

Utah health insurance agents who sell Medicare plans offer a deep knowledge of local plan options including in-network hospitals, doctors, specialists and more.

They can also run a medication analysis and identify local cost savings on prescriptions.

Another especially helpful benefit is local agents can simplify and explain various Medicare plans and they'll continue to serve you and provide personalized customer service all year long.

Annual open enrollment period runs from October 15 through December 7.

How to find a local health plan agent
· Still employed? Ask your HR department for a Medicare agent contact.
· Ask for information about local agents at nearby senior centers.
· Connect with a local licensed Medicare agent calling Regence BlueCross BlueShield.
844-REGENCE (734-3623). TTY: 711
Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

If you think you’ve spotted a scam, please report it to help protect others. Report Medicare scams to the office of the Inspector General or call 800-633-4227. TTY users can call 1-877-486-2048.