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DIFS and DHHS Offer Tips to Help Seniors Avoid Scams During Medicare Open Enrollment Period
October 10, 2023
Medicare Open Enrollment Set to Run October 15 through December 7
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 10, 2023
(LANSING, MICH) The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services (DIFS) and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) are warning Michigan seniors to be on alert for scams and high-pressure sales tactics during this year’s annual Medicare Open Enrollment period, which runs from October 15 through December 7.
"The Medicare open enrollment period is a time for seniors to make important decisions about their health insurance and prescription drug coverage, and criminals will often try to take advantage of the situation to steal money or personal information,” said DIFS Director Anita Fox. “Medicare participants, and those enrolling for the first time, can protect themselves by not giving out personal information, including their Medicare or Social Security Number, to anyone who tries to solicit their business over the phone, online, or at their front door. Information about enrolling in Medicare and comparing health plan options is available for free from a local, certified counselor by calling the Michigan Medicare Assistance Program at 800-803-7174."
"We want to make sure that Michigan residents get access to the health care coverage they need without being taken advantage of by scammers," said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. "We also want to remind Michigan families that the state is doing outreach as part of the Medicaid redetermination process to ensure eligible beneficiaries keep their health care coverage."
To help protect yourself from Medicare scams, DIFS and MDHHS offer the following tips:
- Visit the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) websites to keep up to date on scams. The FCC and CMS both offer educational resources, including videos, to help seniors stay informed about and protect themselves from the latest scams. In addition, CMS offers additional information about Medicare enrollment which seniors may find useful.
- Never give your Medicare number or other personal information to callers or visitors even if they say they are from Medicare. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will never call or send someone to your home to ask for personal information or check your Medicare number. Insurance agents and brokers cannot state that they are from Medicare, that their plans are approved, endorsed, or authorized by Medicare, that they are calling on behalf of Medicare, or that Medicare or any state or federal agency has asked them to call or see you.
- You can get information on Medicare plans without providing an ID number. The only time you must use your Medicare ID number is when you enroll in a plan.
- Do not rely on caller ID. Scammers can use technology to make it look like they are calling from a legitimate business or government agency.
- Ignore anyone who contacts you saying you must join their prescription drug plan or you will lose your Medicare coverage. Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage is voluntary; however, if you do not enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan when you become eligible for Medicare, you may have to pay a late enrollment penalty.
- Don't trust Medicare mailers that appear to be government communications. These may be advertisements for private companies that may have a disclaimer buried in small print.
- Remember that agents/brokers selling Medicare Advantage or Medicare Part D plans are not allowed to do certain things, including:
- Make unsolicited calls, send unsolicited text messages, or leave voicemail messages.
- Make unsolicited visits to your home or go door to door to leave materials on your doorstep on in your mailbox. They may not approach you or market to you in a public place like the grocery store or public parks.
If you have questions or concerns about your Medicare coverage, MDHHS and DIFS urge you to contact Medicare directly at Medicare.gov or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227). If you or a loved one have experienced this type of scam or a high-pressure sales tactic, contact DIFS at Michigan.gov/DIFSComplaints or by calling 877-999-6442 Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. to file a complaint.
The Michigan Medicare Assistance Program (MMAP) is a part of the national network of State Health Assistance Programs and Senior Medicare Patrols. MMAP certified counselors help Medicare beneficiaries of all ages understand their Medicare options and how to protect themselves from health care fraud and scams. MMAP services are free and confidential and funded by grants from the state and federal governments. MMAP receives no funds from and has no affiliation with the insurance industry. You can reach a MMAP counselor by calling 1-800-803-7174 or by visiting mmapinc.org.
Renewals for Medicaid beneficiaries are currently underway, and MDHHS is following up with individuals who have been sent a renewal packet through text messages, phone calls and emails during their renewal month. To ensure the communications they are receiving are legitimate, DHHS recommends that beneficiaries:
- Log into Michigan.gov/MIBridges to check the status of your renewal, report any changes to your household or income or to ensure your address, phone number and email address are up to date. You can also call your local MDHHS office if you have questions about a communication you have received.
- If you have concerns or feel you are being pressured to take action, log into your MI Bridges account, which will provide detailed information on what actions are required.
The mission of the Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is to ensure access to safe and secure insurance and financial services fundamental for the opportunity, security, and success of Michigan residents, while fostering economic growth and sustainability in both industries. In addition, the Department provides consumer protection, outreach, and financial literacy and education services to Michigan residents. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/DIFS or follow the Department on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.