Avoid Medicare scams

Advisory service offers tips


The number of Medicare scams tends to increase during the annual enrollment period, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, but that doesn’t mean the scammers will go on holiday after that. Anyone can become a scam victim at any time.

According to David Luna, licensed insurance agent and co-founder of Medicare advisory service Connie Health, Florida has been consistently identified as one of the most common places in the nation where fraudulent activity occurs.

“The state of Florida is particularly at risk for Medicare and Medicaid health care fraud,” he said.

And because scammers are always coming up with new ways to take advantage of their victims, it’s important to keep ahead of them.

“The best way to combat scams is to be alert and ensure that your address is updated, so that you receive all official notices,” Luna said. “Reach out to a licensed insurance agent or provider like Connie Health to complete changes to your plan, and never give away sensitive information, such as your Medicare number, over the phone.”

Connie Health is a national company with agents in Florida. It helps seniors with Medicare issues, including selecting a plan, resolving billing challenges and more. After the plan is selected, the company follows up with reminders about key dates, help in finding specialists and advice on maximizing benefits.

The company provided the following 10 ways people can protect themselves from Medicare scams:

  • Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesperson. It’s a scam.
  • Likewise, Medicare and Medicaid never send representatives to private homes. If someone comes to your house claiming to be from these agencies, it’s a scam.
  • If anyone, other than your doctor or hospital providers, asks for your Medicare card, Medicare number or Social Security card or number, it’s a scam.
  • If someone offers you money or gifts for free medical care, it’s a scam.
  • A provider tells you that the item or service isn’t usually covered, but they “know how to bill Medicare,” so Medicare will pay. It’s a scam. You’ll be the one who gets a bill.
  • If you receive a bill in the mail for services or products you didn’t order, and there’s a demand for payment, it’s a scam. Do not pay the bill. You’re not liable for things you didn’t order. When you get a bill like this, report it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
  • If you review your Medicare statement and see that there are services, products or equipment you or your provider didn’t request or are double charged, it might be a scam. You can review your statements by mail or through your account at Medicare.gov.
  • Are you getting a new Medicare card? If someone tells you that you must return your old Medicare card, it’s likely a scam. Once you receive your new Medicare card, destroy the old one with scissors or a shredder and start using the new card immediately.
  • Did you get an email from Medicare? Look closely at the email address it’s coming from. While many emails may look like they’re coming directly from Medicare, once you click these links, you’re taken to a website that looks authentic but is a scam. Do not reply to unexpected emails, text messages or click on links – even if they seem genuine. If you need to log into your Medicare account, go to Medicare.gov or call 1-800-633-4227.
  • Don’t be afraid of threats to terminate benefits. If you qualify for Medicare, your eligibility will not be taken away because you don’t sign up for a particular plan.

Of course, there’s a lot more to know about Medicare than how to avoid scams. Simply navigating the Medicare landscape requires a certain vigilance to ensure one is getting the full benefit.

For instance, the Medicare Part D prescription drug plan changes every year, and that could affect costs. And income qualifications for Extra Help will change next year. In addition, people sometimes overlook an important benefit, such as Chronic Conditions Special Needs Plans for those with diabetes or other chronic condition.

A licensed agent can help determine whether a client is eligible for various benefits.

Connie Health offers a checklist of priorities for seniors to use when selecting a plan and recommends choosing an agent with local expertise, rather than relying on a call center agent in another state. Because it receives commissions, it provides services at no cost to the individual.

For further information, go to conniehealth.com.