People on Medicare are a coveted group. Scammers thrive on them, stopping at nothing to separate these beneficiaries from their Medicare numbers. In a word, it’s criminal.
And it’s about to get worse. The new Health Insurance Marketplace is a breeding ground for scammers who are trying to convince Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in a “new marketplace policy” or “a better Medicare.” You may be told by a scammer that if you do not answer the questions, “you could be left out and have no coverage at all.” Or that your Medicare benefits are “changing because of the Marketplace.”
None of this is true. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Health Insurance Marketplace is designated to help people who do not have health insurance. This means that people on Medicare do not need a plan from the Marketplace nor are they even eligible for one.
Open enrollment for the Health Insurance Marketplace is Oct. 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014. The timing may be confusing for some because Medicare Part D, prescription drug coverage, open enrollment is Oct. 15, 2013 to December 7, 2013.
Even though the timing overlaps, the two are not connected. Medicare Part D and the Health Insurance Marketplace are completely different things, although scammers will try their hardest to convince you otherwise.
Do not fall for it.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has warnings and recommendations to follow if you get solicited by someone claiming to be from the Marketplace or from Medicare:
— Be aware the Medicare open enrollment period is a time when there’s higher risk for fraudulent activities. Be ever vigilant.
— It’s against the law for someone who knows that you have Medicare to sell you a Marketplace plan.
— Do not share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who knocks on your door or contacts you uninvited to sell you a health plan.
— Don’t be influenced by advertising suggesting that you need a Health Insurance Marketplace policy. If you are on Medicare, you are all set.
For more information on Medicare or the Marketplace, call your local Area Agency on Aging at 1-877-353-3771.
Carol Higgins Taylor is director of communications at Eastern Area Agency on Aging.