(MURFREESBORO) The annual open-enrollment period for Medicare is open now through December 7, 2021. To many, the process can be confusing and off-putting. As is always the case when something seems confusing, scammers are their offer “assistance.”
How it works
Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) experts noted that during last year’s open enrollment period, BBB.org/ScamTracker got many reports about scammers claiming to be a government representative who can help you navigate your Medicare or Affordable Care Act options.
BBB’s James Pierce told NewsRadio WGNS, “Scammers alleged they can enroll you in a better program than what you currently have. This new plan is cheaper, and you can keep all the same services. To get started, all you need to do is provide some personal information, such as your Medicare ID number. Of course, the call is a scam, and sharing personal information will open you up to identity theft.”
In another common scam, callers tried to frighten – rather than assist - victims with their health care plans. In this case, scammers claimed that your Medicare will be discontinued if you didn't re-enroll. Fortunately, this “Medicare advisor” can fix the situation – if you share personal information with them.
Watch out for similar scams in this new open enrollment period. Healthcare.gov does provide legitimate help with figuring out which plan is right for you. These people — sometimes called Navigators or Assisters — are not allowed to charge for their help. If someone asks you for payment, it’s a scam. You will also need to contact them. They will not call you out-of-the-blue.
Tips to Avoid Open Enrollment Scams
Selecting a health insurance plan can be challenging and complex. Be on the lookout for common red flags.
- Be wary of anyone who contacts you unsolicited.People representing Medicare or ACA plans don’t contact you by phone, email, or in person unless you are already enrolled. Be especially cautious of threatening calls that require quick action or immediate payment.
- Decline promotional gifts in exchange for personal information.Keep a healthy level of skepticism any time a broker offers you free gifts, health screenings, or other special deals. Never sign up with a broker who offers you an expensive “sign-up gift” in exchange for providing your Medicare ID number or other personally identifiable information.
- Beware of dishonest brokers who offer “free health screenings.”Some brokers offer this to weed out people who are less healthy. This is called “cherry picking” and is against the Medicare rules.
- Guard your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan info, or banking information to anyone you don’t know.
- Hang up and go to official websites. You can enroll or re-enroll in Medicare at govor in a marketplace health plan at Healthcare.gov.
For more information
If you are unsure whether a call or offer is from Medicare, or you gave your personal information to someone claiming to be with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE to report it. If you suspect fraud when signing up for ACA coverage, go to HealthCare.gov or call the Health Insurance Marketplace call center at 800-318-2596.
If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/scamtracker. our report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.