It’s open enrollment time for healthcare. That means it is a great time to get health insurance. It is also a good time to switch your coverage to a healthcare plan that could save you some money. It also means that scammers are on the prowl.
Open enrollment for Medicare runs from Oct. 15 through Dec. 7. Affordable Care Act open enrollment is a smaller window: Nov. 1 through Dec. 15. It happens all the time at this time of year. As Americans consider their options during the healthcare open enrollment period, scammers look for opportunities to steal your personal information. They do this by offering bargains on enticing healthcare plans that do not exist.
How They Try to Scam You
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns about the most common health insurance scam. In this case, the thieves will call or email you and claim to be a “health care benefits advocate.” These scammers know that some aspects of Medicare and the Affordable Care Act are complicated enough to be intimidating. So, they are counting on your need for help as you try to make your insurance decision. Elderly consumers need to especially beware of this scam to protect their info and personal finances.
In these classic “phishing” scams, the caller or emailer may claim to be able to enroll you in a cheaper program than your current one. Once they have your interest, they begin the process of “reeling you in.” They request that you provide a bit of personal information, such as your Medicare ID number or Social Security number. Once they have that and other pertinent info, such as your date of birth and address, they can steal your identity. This can put you into a world of trouble.
Other scammers try to frighten you by claiming your Medicare is about to be discontinued unless you re-enroll immediately. Again, giving this fake “Medicare advisor” your personal information is like opening your bank account to them.
The BBB says another scam to be on the lookout for is calls, texts, or emails that offer you “free” back or knee braces. This is an old Medicare fraud method that’s been around for years and is, apparently, still finding victims.
The Telltale Signs of a Scam:
- Unsolicited phone calls, texts, or emails – Medicare and ACA representatives do not call unless you have already enrolled
- Threats – Representatives never make threats of “losing your coverage” or of any sort to enrollees or potential enrollees.
- Promotional gifts – Never fall for the offer of a sign-up gift of any sort, including free health screenings, free back or knee braces, etc. If you have to give them your Medicare ID number or other such information to get your “free promotion,” hang up!
Don’t fall prey to scammers! If you are confused and need legitimate help in finding a healthcare plan during open enrolment, visit the official websites at Medicare.gov or Healthcare.gov.