Senior Medicare Patrol Newsletter - September 2014

September, 2014 Monthly News You Can Use

Every Fall Medicare is in the News!

            The fall of 2014 brings lots of political campaign ads but  also many health insurance ads aimed at Medicare beneficiaries. October 15th through December 7th is a time of year when many persons on Medicare shop for Medicare prescription drug plans or Medicare Advantage plans during “open enrollment.”  Shopping and learning about Medicare and related health insurance gets really complicated when a few dishonest people get involved. 

            Be careful with e-mails!  Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol recently received a message that said, “Medicare Open Enrollment ….. Start looking for new or replacement supplement insurance.”  The message had an Internet link in it to search for an “instant” quote and “save up to 50%.”  The Senior Medicare Patrol tips for you are

  • Never click on a link a stranger sends you!
  • The fall open enrollment period is not connected with supplement or “Medigap” policies.
  • If you want to get information about Medicare supplement policies, use the Medicare website at www.Medicare.gov and ask for information from Iowa’s SHIIP, 1-800-351-4664, http://www.therightcalliowa.gov.

             Health insurance companies and salespeople that are selling products during the fall open enrollment periodmust follow Medicare rules.  There are restrictions on making cold calls or uninvited visits to your home and rules against offering cash or a free meal during their sales pitch.  To learn how these rules protect you, read more at www.Medicare.gov and look for “forms, help and resources” then “report fraud and abuse” then “health plan rules.” 

            If you want free and unbiased assistance comparing Medicare Advantage or prescription plans, contact SHIIP.  If you think a salesperson has broken rules or acted unprofessionally, contact SHIIP or Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-800-423-2449 to obtain assistance in reporting this to the appropriate officials. 

The Latest on What Scammers are Doing

            Pretending to be the U.S. Federal Trade Commission – A federal district court has barred a company from making recorded phone calls promising to provide “refunds.”  The scammers made the phone number displayed on caller ID, appear to be from the Federal Trade Commission.  Because victims thought the caller was legitimate, over 13,000 people gave out bank account information and lost money. (Source: FTC.) 

            “Government cash grants” --  Iowans have received post cards and calls claiming that up to $20,000 is ready to be sent out in free grants from the government.  This is a common theme for scammers and for businesses who try to get you to pay for information about government benefits… information that is free from the government.  Read more about “government grant scams” at www.consumer.ftc.gov   (Source: report to Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol)

            Facebook hoax --  When you log into your Facebook account, be skeptical about notices of lottery winnings.  Scammers can hack your Facebook account or redirect your account messages to a different email and pose as you!  An Iowan reported this recently happened; the imposter was trying to get her to respond to a claim that Facebook had a lottery she’d won. Check out the “security section” of Facebook’s “Help Center” for more information.   (Source: report to Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol) If you remember, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” you won’t fall victim to these scams.  Not only is it not true but it likely could cost you your identity and your money.  

  • News prepared by Deb Yankey, Iowa Senior Medicare Patrol Coordinator, Northeast Iowa Area Agency on Aging (NEI3A), Waterloo, IA,  dyankey@nei3a.org

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