Watch out for cons during Medicare open enrollment period

It’s as easy as A, B, C, and D until you toss the word “Medicare” in and then it becomes the “Alphabet Soup of Medicare!” The Medicare open enrollment period begins October 15 and continues through December 7. This is the time for seniors to make changes to their current coverage. Each year, if you are in a Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare Part D prescription drug plan, you are eligible to change your enrollment into another Medicare Advantage plan or Medicare D plan during the open enrollment period; changes take effect January 1, 2018.

It’s important for people to review their part D policies every year. What was good last year may not be a good plan for the next year. Medical and prescription situations may have changed and a particular drug may have gone up to a different tier, which means a higher out-of-pocket expense for the beneficiary. When in doubt, consider getting enrollment help from an unbiased counsellor to lessen the chances of being misled into signing up for the wrong plan.

The open enrollment period is also “open season” for fraudsters and some “not so moral” insurance brokers to take advantage of individuals looking to update plans. Medicare enrollment can be very confusing and beneficiaries may face pressure from insurance agents, marketing companies and scammers.

Watch for fraudsters hoping to skim money that the elderly and disabled will be paying out for health care needs. Some of the most common scams occur when people give out personal information over the phone. People don’t think they’re going to fall victim to scams, but then you get a call out of the blue and the caller says, “Its Medicare” calling. Medicare officials will rarely call Medicare beneficiaries, and if they do, they won’t ask for personal information like your Social Security number or financial information.

If you need help with plan enrollment, contact the ND State Health Insurance Counseling Program (SHIC) at 1-888-575-6611 to schedule an appointment or to locate a SHIC program sponsor nearest you. This is a free service. Contact ND SMP with concerns about Medicare and healthcare fraud or scams.

The information provided is intended to be a general summary only. Source of information: Fite, E. (2017, October 15). Don’t Get Duped during Medicare Enrollment. Time Free Press.

North Dakota Senior Medicare Patrol Phone: 800-233-1737 or (701) 858-3580.

For more information or to locate your SMP, visit

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