Benefit Bulletin: November 2013

Benefit Bulletin: November 2013

Be Wary of Scams – If You are Covered By Medicare, Obamacare Doesn't Affect You!

Seniors get a lot of phone calls from people trying to sell something, but be especially wary of Obamacare scams. The Medicare Open Enrollment period which ends December 7th coincides with the initial registration period for the new "Obamacare" Health Insurance Marketplace. The new health insurance is for people under the age of 65 and who are not enrolled in Medicare or Medicaid. If you are 65 and covered by Medicare, the new health insurance marketplace or exchanges don’t apply to you. There are no changes to your Medicare card, and you are not required to buy a new Medicare supplement or Part D coverage.

An army of scammers is fanned out across the nation taking advantage of widespread Obamacare confusion. Don't fall for their line. Callers will often tell you that they’re from Medicare or the federal government and say something like, "We're going to send you a new Medicare card, so will you please verify your information?" Medicare does not call you. This person is lying to get your Medicare number, which is the same as your Social Security number. Just be rude, and hang up.

Fraud is rampant and costs Medicare as much as $90 billion each year. To file false claims, Medicare numbers are stolen and are then sold to dishonest medical clinics or facilities. Sometimes seniors are picked up and taken to a clinic where they may get "free services," or medical equipment. The scammers get your Medicare and personal information, then bill Medicare thousands of dollars in your name. Accepting free services in exchange for your Medicare number can get you in trouble for fraud!

Protect your Medicare, Social Security and bank account numbers and don't give them out. If asked for any of these numbers, just hang up or get away! To report suspected fraud: Contact the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services :800-HHS-TIPS or

About The Medicare Open Enrollment Period

This is the time of year when 50 million Medicare beneficiaries have the chance to review their health and Part D plans for modifications in costs, coverage and benefits. It's the one time of year to find out whether there are other options available that would save you money or provide better coverage, that would take effect January 1, 2014.

Health plans are required to mail enrollees a packet of information about coverage changes in October. Review that and make sure it hasn't been revised. Plans can and frequently do raise premiums, drop coverage of costly-drugs, impose higher co-pays and deductibles and make other changes that can result in leaving you with high out-of-pocket costs. It will be too late to make changes in January when the new costs start, so find out now.  The 2014 COLA won't be high enough to cover very much of new costs. Take time to check now before the Medicare Open Enrollment period ends December 7th.

Remember, these enrollment periods are prime time for swindlers. For information on health and drug plans, check or call 1-800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227). Free, unbiased one-on-one counseling is available in many areas of the country through State Health Insurance Counseling and Assistance programs run through many local Area Agencies on Aging. For locating help, call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116.