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Susan Tompor: Scams heat up during Medicare open enrollment

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Medicare open enrollment is ongoing and ends Dec. 7. And you better believe the scammers know it.

Maybe it's someone making a call, claiming to be from your insurance company and demanding information on the spot. Some scammers say you'll need to buy a gift card or wire money soon so that you won't lose your health care benefits. Others are trying to get your Social Security number or other information to use in identity fraud.

Locally, consumers have been reporting fast-talking, door-to-door sales pitches for signing up for Medicare Advantage Plans.

"One gentleman signed up for a plan through a high pressure insurance agent and as a result he would have lost his Medigap coverage," said said Jenny Jarvis, chief communications and strategy officer for the Area Agency on Aging 1-B in Southfield.

Fortunately, after talking with counselors at the agency, he was able to switch his coverage back to a Medicare Part D plan and he retained his Medigap plan since it was still in the open enrollment window.

The open enrollment window is ripe for scam artists, Jarvis warns, as scammers often claim to be private companies that offer Medicare to eligible seniors. This month, many Medicare recipients are reviewing whether they want to change their Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans.

 

"Usually, if you keep your plan, you do nothing," Jarvis said.

She noted that consumers face two options when you sign up for Medicare.

"One option is keeping traditional Medicare, which covers Part A and Part B," she said..

"Then you can purchase a stand alone Medicare Part D plan for prescription coverage and you can also choose to purchase a Medigap plan which helps cover co-pays and deductibles associated with Medicare Part A and Part B."

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