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CHIPS Articles: Be cautious of ‘open enrollment’ schemes

Be cautious of ‘open enrollment’ schemes
By CHIPS Magazine - November 15, 2017
It’s open season, the time for millions of Americans to choose a health insurance plan. Whether you’re eligible for Medicare, selecting a plan through the Affordable Care Act, or shopping for private insurance, you have until December 15* to compare plans and make coverage changes. But as you are evaluating the costs and benefits of each plan, keep in mind that fraudsters are taking advantage of open season to deceive victims through fake websites and emails, phone calls, and bogus insurance, drug and medical discount programs.

The Federal Trade Commission offers advice for avoiding scams this open enrollment season.

Private insurance

*Note that if you receive health insurance through your employer, check with your human resources office to determine your options and deadline dates. Federal employees must make their health insurance selection by December 11. Visit the Office of Personnel Management website (https://www.opm.gov/healthcare-insurance/) for more information and check with your agency’s benefits adviser.

Medicare

  • Anyone that tries to sell you Medicare insurance while claiming to be an “official Medicare agent” is a scammer. There are no Medicare sales representatives.
  • The Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D) is voluntary. Hang up on anyone who calls saying you must join their prescription plan or you will lose your Medicare coverage.
  • Do not give any information over the phone to someone who tells you that you must provide information to keep your coverage.
  • If you need help with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE or go to Medicare.gov.

Affordable Care Act

  • Only shop for coverage at HealthCare.gov. People who try to sign you up elsewhere may be scammers.
  • Need assistance? There are people and groups in your community who can help you find coverage and enroll in a plan — and it’s free! To make sure they are legitimate, use the local help resource at HealthCare.gov.

If you spot a scam, report it to the FTC. If the scam is Medicare-related, report it at Medicare.gov.

Remember: don’t open emails or attachments from unknown senders. When browsing online for health insurance advice, visit only trustworthy, reputable websites.

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