Sound Judgment Is Your Best Protection (Part 1)
The 2012 Medicare Open Enrollment Period (OEP) got underway on Oct. 15 and will continue until Dec. 7 of this year.
During Open Enrollment you’ll have such options as:
- Joining a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or changing from one drug plan to another
- Discontinuing Part D coverage
- Switching from Original Medicare (Medicare Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage Plan
- Switching from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare
- Switching from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another
You’re not required to make any changes during this or any OEP, but Open Enrollment offers you a great opportunity to evaluate your current health coverage in order to determine whether any changes are advisable. The coverage that was right for you a year ago may not be right for you going into a new year. Some premiums may go up from year to year. Your medical situation and your needs can change dramatically from one year to the next, and open enrollment is a great time to fine-tune your coverage to suit your present situation.
But great savings and ideal coverage aren’t the only things you need to be on the lookout for during Open Enrollment.
The Common Fraud Schemes page on the Federal Bureau of Investigation website indicates that seniors are often targeted by scam artists looking for victims who’ve accumulated assets, own their own homes, and have good credit. Unfortunately, this is seldom truer than during Medicare Open Enrollment.
As millions of seniors are evaluating their healthcare options for the coming year and looking for ways to save money, there are scammers trying to cash in.
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a victim of Medicare scams. You can easily protect your assets by exercising sound judgment and taking a few easy precautions:
- Never believe it when an “official Medicare agent” knocks on your door or contacts you by telephone. Such a visit will never happen, and no Medicare representative will ever call you unless you’ve requested such a call.
- Never give personal information to anyone claiming to represent Medicare unless you’re the one who initiated contact. Never give information such as your birthdate, Medicare number, Social Security number, or bank account number over the phone. Scammers are looking for information that can lead to identity theft, but you’ll stop them cold if you protect your personal information.
- Don’t hesitate to report any suspicious activity by calling 1-800-MEDICARE or filing a Medicare fraud and abuse report. Who knows? Your vigilance might even help someone else from being a victim of the Open Enrollment scammers.