Senior Medicare Patrol - July 2013 Newsletter

Scams Looming on the Horizon

          The Federal Trade Commission is warning the public about the latest scam.  Scammers have discovered the new “Health Insurance Marketplace” which will start in October.  Important note --  persons on Medicare are not affected.  “Medicare isn’t part of the Health Insurance Marketplace, so you don’t need to do anything. If you have Medicare, you are considered covered.  The Marketplace won’t affect your Medicare choices, and your benefits won’t be changing. No matter how you get Medicare, whether through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll still have the same benefits and security you have now. You won’t have to make any changes.”  (Source:  This “marketplace” also does not have anything to do with supplemental insurance or Prescription Drug Plans for persons on Medicare.    

            But scammers are trying to convince the public that they must take some action now by paying money or giving their personal information like Social Security numbers.   And because these new insurance programs may be confusing, scammers will likely try to convince people on Medicare that they must do something. 

            Information for persons who aren’t on Medicare but are looking for more affordable health insurance should visit the website or phone 1-800-318-2596 to obtain information. 


“Physician Compare” Available on Medicare Website

            Medicare recently announced they’ve improved and expanded the ability to search for information about doctors and group practices on their website,  The section can be found on their home page by clicking “find doctors & other health professionals.”   There are a variety of ways to search  -- by office location or specialty or by group practice name.  You can learn what hospitals a physician is associated with; this might be important to you if you expect to have tests or procedures and you want to be certain you can use a particular hospital.  If you don’t know what speciality name to use, you can search by naming a body part or organ or a type of disease, to find which doctors specialize in your health concern.  

            If you aren’t comfortable with using a computer to search for this information, ask a friend or family member, or ask your local library if they are able to help you with using this website.  There is a video on the website that explains how to use the “physician compare.”


Suspicious Calls in Iowa Right Now

            Watch out for calls about these things:

  • New Social Security cards – Social Security is NOT sending new cards.
  • Problems with your computer --  a stranger who calls you about a problem showing up on your computer is trying to scam you.
  • Bank account or debit card problems --  be careful about responding to a text message or phone message that asks you for your account information. 


Craigslist – Be Safe When You Sell, Buy or Look for Services! 

            As the use of the Internet by older persons grows by leaps and bounds, so does the need for everyone to be cautious when doing business online.  Craigslist is a website on which people can advertise at no cost, items they want to sell or give away, as well as services they can perform for others for a fee. It has become a very popular website on which you can find items and services near to your home.

            The number one recommendation from Craigslist to protect the safety of buyers and sellers, is to deal only in your local area, with people you can meet in a public place, preferably taking a companion with you.  Other important tips are

  • Never wire money,
  • Never give any personal information like your home address, bank information, or whether you live alone,
  • Don’t accept cashiers checks and money orders as they can look very real yet be counterfeit,
  • Avoid shipping as part of your transaction.   

(Sources: and Emeritus Senior Living “Senior Care Blog,”


  • News prepared by Deb Yankey, Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Coordinator, Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A), Waterloo, IA,