Detroit Medicare and ACA 2021

Follow these tips on how to ‘guard your card’ against Medicare scams

Margaret Anderson
for Health Alliance Plan
Margaret Anderson is senior vice president, chief sales and marketing officer at Health Alliance Plan.

Medicare scams are on the rise and, unfortunately, the annual enrollment period is a prime time for these scammers to strike. It’s important that you always guard your Medicare ID the way you protect your Social Security and credit card numbers. If your Medicare number falls into the wrong hands, you can quickly become a victim of fraud and your plan can be changed without your permission.

Remember: You only need to give your name and address to learn more about a plan.

What is Medicare fraud?

Medicare fraud is when people or companies get payments from Medicare under false or illegal pretenses. Fraud victims face financial liability and compromised medical and insurance records. This can set the stage for problems in the future, so it’s critical to protect yourself against Medicare fraud. A fraudulent act done in your name may not impact you right away, but it can become a huge problem when you need your coverage most.

Spotting Medicare fraud

Review your Medicare summary notices for errors immediately. On this form, you should always compare the dates and services on your calendar with the statements you get from Medicare. Alert your health plan of any charges or services on your statement that you did not receive.

Tips to protect yourself

  • Guard your card. Never give your Medicare number or other personal information to an unknown caller. If a caller says they are from Medicare and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services will never call to ask for personal information or check Medicare numbers.
  • Guard your medical information. Never give out your personal medical information, including medical records.
  • Guard your time. During annual enrollment, do not let anyone rush you to choose a plan. Take time to do your homework and find the best plan for your unique needs.
  • Be cautious. Do not give out your personal information if someone calls or visits your home. Licensed insurance brokers are not allowed to call, email or visit your home unless you give them permission. Anyone who tries to sell you Medicare insurance while claiming to be an “official Medicare agent” is a scammer. Medicare does not use representatives. If someone comes to your door claiming to be from Medicare, remember that Medicare does not send representatives to your home.
  • Be suspicious. Be suspicious of anyone who calls and claims to be able to help you sign up for coverage but needs to confirm your Medicare number or says they need your Medicare number in order to provide you with enrollment information.
  • Be skeptical. You should always be skeptical of anyone offering free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any extreme offer. Remember that any promotional item should be given without requiring you to enroll in a plan or give away your personal information.

Taking these steps to “guard your card” will pay off in the long run. Remember, if you ever wonder whether a request is legitimate, ask a licensed agent or a reputable insurer like HAP. It doesn’t cost anything to ask a question and that’s what we’re here for.

Margaret Anderson is senior vice president, chief sales and marketing officer at Health Alliance Plan. She has more than 25 years of experience in the health care industry across all market segments including large and small employer groups, government programs (Medicare and Medicaid) and individual sales.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the USA TODAY Network were not involved in the creation of this content.
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