Senior Medicare Patrol - August 2013 Newsletter

National Council on Aging (NCOA) Advises How to Recognize Today’s Scams

            The NCOA works with organizations, businesses and government to help seniors sustain quality lives through healthy living, activity and independence.  They recently prepared “22 Tips for Avoiding Scams & Swindles.”   (Yes, there’s a LOT of tips because there are so many scams and swindles out there!)  At the top of their list is health insurance and Medicare frauds and scams – take a look at these tips.

  • Never sign blank insurance forms.
  • Do not do business with door-to-door or telephone salespeople who tell you that services or medical equipment are free.
  • Keep accurate records of all health care appointments.
  • Know if your physician ordered equipment for you.
  • Protect your Medicare number as you do your credit card numbers and do not allow anyone else to use it.

For telemarketing and home repair or contractor fraud, NCOA suggests these things:

  • Always ask for and wait until you receive written material about any offer or charity. 
  • Obtain a salesperson’s name, business identity, telephone number, street address, mailing address, and business license number before you transact business.
  • Do not allow yourself to be pressured into making purchases, signing contracts, or committing funds. 

For the complete list of 22 tips, please visit and follow this path   Home > Enhance Economic Security > Economic Security Initiative > Savvy Saving Seniors  > 22 Tips for Avoiding Scams & Swindles. 

            For help keeping track of your medical appointments and notes from your medical visits, contact Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-800-423-2449 for a free “Personal Health Care Journal.”   


Calls from Insurance Salespersons

            Medicare’s “Open Enrollment” period begins October 15th.  This means you may receive calls from insurance salespersons asking to present their insurance plans to you.  Be certain that you have all the information you need before you make decisions about starting, stopping or changing your health insurance plans.  Salespersons must follow many rules about how and when they present sales information to you during this period of time. 

            These are the types of things you can do during “open enrollment.”

  • Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn't offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn't offer drug coverage.
  • Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
  • Switch from one Medicare drug plan to another Medicare drug plan.
  • Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

If you need or want to make a change in your health insurance related to Medicare, you may

want to contact Iowa SHIIP  (Senior Health Insurance Information Program) for neutral information to consider when making your decisions.  Call SHIIP at 1-800-351-4664 to locate the SHIIP counselors in your area.   (Also at


Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) – What’s That????

            Iowans have recently asked Senior Medicare Patrol about the safety of credit cards with radio chips, which is called “radio frequency identification.”  Cards with radio chips don’t have to be swiped through a reading device; they can be “waved” in front of a reading device in the check-out line in the store.  This new technology has its drawbacks because any thief with a special portable device, can actually “read” your card even when it’s in your pocket or wallet.  Once they’ve read the radio chip they can create a clone of your credit card and use it as they like.   RFID is also used in passports, key cards, employee IDs and other cards.

You can read more about this on the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse website at  They state, “You can protect your card from being read covertly by covering it with aluminum foil or placing it in a special RFID protective sleeve.” 

        Proof of Social Security Number

“In most cases, you only need to apply for a replacement Social Security card if you need to show your card to a new employer.  Even then, you may only need a Social Security number printout to verify your number and not the actual card.  The printout will serve as proof of your Social Security number when you need to show it to state governments and social service agencies. If you don’t need a new card and the printout will do, you can get your printout right away in your local Social Security office, without having to wait 10 to 15 days to get a replacement Social Security card by mail.  You still need to show us documents to prove your identity and U.S. citizenship or immigration status.  ….  to learn more about the Social Security number printout by visiting and typing “printout” in the search box on the left side of the screen.”

            This article is reprinted from the July 2013 “Social Security Update” at


  • News prepared by Deb Yankey, Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Coordinator, Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A), Waterloo, IA,    Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol services are available through your local Area Agency on Aging.