Beware of cons as health care enrollment begins

Crime

(WWLP) – The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers of scammers during open enrollment season for health care coverage.

Many businesses have open enrollment for employees who need to make changes to their health care coverage this time of year. The federal government has opened Medicare.gov from October 15, 2021 to December 7, 2021. Healthcare.gov is open from November 1, 2021 to January 15, 2021.

The Better Business Bureau says scammers often see open enrollments as a chance to trick people out of money and personal information. Reports include scammers claiming to be a government representative who can help you navigate your Medicare or Affordable Care Act options.

How the Scam Works:  

Scammers claim to be a “health care benefits advocate” or a similar title. These scammers allege they can enroll you in a better program than what you currently have. This new plan is cheaper, and you can keep all the same services. To get started, all you need to do is provide some personal information, such as your Medicare ID number.

In another common scam, callers try to frighten – rather than assist – victims with their health care plans. In this case, scammers claim that your Medicare will be discontinued if you didn’t re-enroll. Fortunately, this “Medicare advisor” can fix the situation – if you share personal information with them. 

Do not share your personal information including payment information to anyone calling you out of the blue, it may open you up to identity theft.

Tips to Avoid Open Enrollment Scams

Selecting a health insurance plan can be challenging and complex. Be on the lookout for common red flags.

  • Be wary of anyone who contacts you unsolicited. People representing Medicare or ACA plans don’t contact you by phone, email, or in person unless you are already enrolled. Be especially cautious of threatening calls that require quick action or immediate payment.
     
  • Decline promotional gifts in exchange for personal information. Keep a healthy level of skepticism any time a broker offers you free gifts, health screenings, or other special deals. Never sign up with a broker who offers you an expensive “sign-up gift” in exchange for providing your Medicare ID number or other personally identifiable information.
     
  • Beware of dishonest brokers who offer “free health screenings.” Some brokers offer this to weed out people who are less healthy. This is called “cherry picking” and is against the Medicare rules.
     
  • Guard your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan info, or banking information to anyone you don’t know.
     
  • Hang up and go to official websites. You can enroll or re-enroll in Medicare at Medicare.gov or in a marketplace health plan at Healthcare.gov.
     

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