October 30, 2014

Missouri Department of Insurance encourages seniors to visit CLAIM events during Medicare open enrollment

Cautions against scam artists trying to take advantage of seniors

Jefferson City, Mo - The Missouri Department of Insurance cautions Missourians who are eligible for Medicare to be wary of potential scams. With open enrollment running now through Dec. 7, Missourians are urged to be on alert for scam artists.

"Not everyone calling your home about a Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plan may have the best intentions," cautions John M. Huff, director of the department. "I urge all Medicare recipients to be wary of unscrupulous sales tactics."

Missourians should follow these tips to stay protected:

  • 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 has strict rules on forbidden sales practices. Also, remember that Medicare is not part of the federal health insurance marketplace (exchange) under the Affordable Care Act. The marketplace is not meant to serve Medicare recipients.

Missourians can be sure they are receiving trusted help by contacting CLAIM. CLAIM provides Missourians on Medicare and their caregivers with free, unbiased help from certified counselors. You can can ask questions or arrange one-on-one counseling by calling 800-390-3330 or visiting missouriclaim.org. Visit missouriclaim.org/events to see a list of free open enrollment events hosted by CLAIM throughout Missouri.

Counselors can answer questions about switching your Part D prescription drug coverage or Medicare Advantage plans. CLAIM also can assist Missourians with limited income to determine whether they qualify for federal or state help in paying for prescription drugs. Medicare offers the Extra Help program, and the state offers the MoRx program.

Consumers with complaints or questions about insurance can call the department's hotline at 800-726-7390 or visit insurance.mo.gov.