October 30, 2015

Department of Insurance cautions Missourians to watch for scams during Medicare open enrollment

Be wary of scam artists trying to obtain personal information

Jefferson City, Mo - Protecting your personal information is the best line of defense in the fight against health care fraud and abuse. The Missouri Department of Insurance warns Missourians to be watchful of scam artists during Medicare open enrollment.

"Scam artists will likely try to take advantage of Missourians during Medicare open enrollment, but you can help minimize fraud by recognizing dishonest tactics," said John M. Huff, director of the department. "Remember to never give your Medicare or Social Security numbers to strangers, especially those offering unverifiable free services."  

  • Verify that a salesperson is a licensed insurance agent by calling the Insurance Consumer Hotline at 800-726-7390.
  • Be cautious of door-to-door sales people. Medicare has no sales representatives, and agents cannot solicit Part D or Medicare Advantage plans at your home without an appointment.
  • Avoid sales people who offer free lunches for listening to a sales presentation. Federal law prohibits offers of free meals in exchange for signing up for a plan or listening to a presentation on Medicare.
  • Do not give out personal information to an unlicensed agent. Sales people are not allowed to ask for a Social Security, bank account or credit card number during marketing activities.
  • Sales people cannot ask for online payments, but must send a bill. Once you decide to buy a plan and have verified the agent is licensed, then you may give the agent personal information for enrollment and billing.

Medicare offers resources to help educate people on Medicare about potential scams through examples and tips. Medicare.gov also outlines rules about representatives of Medicare to keep individuals informed. Help combat the billions of dollars lost each year to scam artists by following precautionary measures. 

Missourians have an additional resource with CLAIM, the state health insurance assistance program (SHIP) for Missouri. They provide free, unbiased help from certified counselors to people on Medicare and their caregivers. Missourians can ask questions or arrange one-on-one counseling by calling 800-390-3330 or by visiting missouriclaim.org. Visit missouriclaim.org/events to see a list of free open enrollment events hosted by CLAIM throughout Missouri. Watch the department's video podcast about a CLAIM volunteer and how he helps Missourians make Medicare open enrollment decisions.