During Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period (OEP), which ends December 7, Medicare beneficiaries can choose the plans that are best for them. You can get help comparing Medicare plans from the State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) that are in all U.S. states and territories. It’s also good to understand what sellers are — and aren’t — allowed to do, so you’ll be prepared if an insurance agent or representative tries to enroll you in a Medicare plan that isn’t right for you.
There are limits on how Medicare plans can contact beneficiaries. Medicare plans:
- Can’t call you if you don’t have a relationship with their company.
- Can’t send you email if you haven’t agreed to this form of contact.
- Can’t come to your home to sell Medicare products without an invitation.
- Can’t leave flyers, door hangers, or leaflets on your car or at your home. However, agents and brokers who have a scheduled appointment with you may leave plan information at your residence if you don’t show up for the appointment.
When you meet or talk with an agent, they:
- Can’t start a discussion about other insurance products, like life insurance annuities, if your meeting is about Medicare Part C or Part D.
- Can’t set their own time limits for you to sign up for a plan. You have until December 7 to enroll, and you can’t get any extra benefits for signing up early.
- Can’t threaten to take away your benefits if you don’t sign up for a plan or offer gifts if you do.
- Can’t suggest that Medicare endorses or prefers their plan.
- Can’t discuss Medicare products you didn’t ask to talk about when you filled out a scope of appointment form.
Once you’ve picked the plan that’s right for you, be sure you get all the details in writing before signing up. Take your time to read all information and verify details. For example, reach out to your doctors to ensure they are in that plan’s network.
If a scammer calls
Scammers might call and pretend to be Medicare representatives or agents in an attempt to steal your Medicare number. They can use fake caller identification to impersonate Medicare or another organization you know, so don’t trust the name displayed on your phone’s screen. If anyone calls and asks for your Medicare, Social Security, or bank or credit card information, hang up. A scammer can use your personal information to file false claims, sign you up for a plan to which you didn’t agree, or even steal your identity. A legitimate Medicare employee will always have your Medicare number on file.
The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.
- We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
- We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
- We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
- We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
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In reply to Thank you for this! I am by Jill from the Hills
You can choose to purchase a Medigap or supplemental insurance plan, but the government doesn’t require you to buy additional coverage. A supplemental insurance can help cover the remaining 20% of costs after Medicare has paid.
If you would like to explore other Medicare arrangements, like Medicare Advantage plans that cover different services, now is the time during Medicare's Open Enrollment period. Reach out to your local State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) by visiting their website and setting up a free and unbiased counseling appointment: shiptacenter.org/about-medicare/regional-ship-location
In reply to Thank you for this! I am by Jill from the Hills
In reply to Thank you so much for this by Lena
Please report unwanted calls and recorded calls (or "robocalls") to the FTC at www.ReportFraud.FTC.gov.
In reply to I'm going to be 65 in May of by AboutToTurn65
In reply to What about the recording by Curious
Even when your number is on the Do Not Call registry, a business may leave you a recorded message that's strictly informational. You could call the pharmacy and tell them you don't want to get phone reminders. Some businesses give customers a choice about how they want to be contacted.
In reply to I already have my secondary by Spooky
In reply to You can report those unwanted by FTC Staff
In reply to It is a waste of time to by saherring
Reporting unwanted calls does help the FTC and law enforcement. The FTC analyzes report data and trends to identify illegal callers based on calling patterns.
The FTC takes the phone numbers you report and releases them to the public each business day. This helps phone carriers and others working on call-blocking and call-labelling solutions. Your reports also help law enforcement identify the people behind illegal calls.
In reply to Jill is so right. I help my by Sheila Johnson
In reply to Why do plan "Yearly Drug & by Carol