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Protect yourself from scams during Medicare open enrollment
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Medicare beneficiaries may change their Medicare health and prescription drug plans during the annual open enrollment period, which runs until Dec. 7.

However, beneficiaries should be aware that Medicare fraud scams are common during this period, and you should know what to watch for to avoid becoming a victim.  As Yogi Berra said, “You can observe a lot by watching.”

One scheme to be on the lookout for is the following:  A person claiming to be from Medicare, your health plan, or another organization contacts you to inform you about some new benefits.  The scammer then states that all you need to do to receive these “benefits” is to confirm your Medicare number for them so that they can send you a new Medicare card.  Never give your Social Security, Medicare, or health plan numbers to someone you don’t know.

Another common scam is a caller offering you a special discount on your Medicare plan.  The fraudster claims that you could save a lot of money but only if you “act now.”  Then, the caller pressures you for your Social Security number and bank information to sign you up for this “great deal.”  Do not give this information out and hang up the phone.

Marketing and enrollment violations also occur during open enrollment when some Medicare health plans do not follow the strict rules set by Medicare.  Medicare plans may not:

• Sell Medicare coverage door-to-door or leave leaflets, flyers, or door hangers at your home.

• Call you unless you have given them permission.

• Conduct marketing events in your doctor’s office, at the pharmacy counter, or in other places that deliver healthcare services.

• Make you meet face-to-face with a plan representative or have you undergo a health screening in order to receive coverage.

• Require you to provide your email address or other contact information, Medicare number, or Social Security number at a marketing event.

If you encounter any of these things, please report the plan to the CMS NBI MEDIC at 1-877-772-3379.  If you have questions about Medicare fraud, you can contact Wisconsin SMP (Senior Medicare Patrol) at 1-800-448-2596, extension 317.

Wisconsin offers a variety of resources to help Medicare beneficiaries during open enrollment and throughout the year.  If you need help selecting a Medicare Advantage plan, call the Medigap Hotline at 1-800-242-1060.  For assistance choosing a Medicare prescription drug plan, call 1-855-677-2783.  Finally, more information about the Medicare counseling that is available for Wisconsin residents can be found on the Wisconsin Department of Health Services website at: