The annual open enrollment period for Medicare began on October 15th and will end on December 7th. This is the only time during the year that people enrolled in Medicare can change their Medicare health plans, Medigap plans and prescription drug plans. By now, people already enrolled in Medicare should have received an Annual Notice of Change from their health insurance providers describing any changes to their plans such as the dropping of particular drugs from their prescription drug plan. If you are satisfied with your plans, you do not need to do anything.
Scammers and identity thieves view the open enrollment period as senior citizen hunting season as myriads of Medicare scams are common during this time. Seniors may be contacted by someone purporting to be from their insurance company asking them to verify information. This is a common tactic of identity thieves trying to trick their victims into providing information. They also may be contacted by people claiming to have supplemental insurance programs that will save them thousands of dollars. Here too, you cannot be sure that they are legitimate when they contact you by phone, text message, email or even regular mail. In addition, scammers send phishing emails that appear to come from your employer asking you to review and approve your health care benefit and then lure you into clicking on malware infected links or providing personal information that can lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft.
Never give personal information to anyone who calls you on the phone because you can never be sure who is actually on the other end of the line. Through a technique called “spoofing,” a scammer can manipulate your Caller ID and make it appear that the call is from the government or some legitimate company when in fact, it is from an identity thief who is eager to steal your money. If you want to get information you can trust about what insurance plans are available to you and at what cost, merely go to the “Plan Finder” section of Medicare’s website http://www.medicare.gov. If you want to speak with someone on the phone, call Medicare at its 24 hour hotline 1-800-MEDICARE. Your Medicare options can be quite confusing. Fortunately, the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP) which is a national network of federally funded programs provides free Medicare counseling. Here is a link to SHIP’s website https://www.shiptacenter.org/
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