Open enrollment is now going on for both Medicare and the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”). Both started in October and continue through December (Medicare through Dec. 7 and the ACA through Dec. 15).
Selecting a health insurance plan can be challenging and complex. Scammers know this and use open enrollment as an opportunity to take advantage of unwary consumers. Some dishonest brokers may try to sell you plans that don’t fit your needs just to benefit them financially. Scammers may pose as government representatives to steal your identity. With so many potential hazards during open enrollment, BBB offers these tips:
- Be wary of anyone who contacts you unsolicited. People representing Medicare or ACA plans don’t contact you by phone, email, or in person unless you are already enrolled. Be especially cautious of calls that require quick action or immediate payment, or that threaten you in any way.
- Decline promotional gifts in exchange for personal information. Keep a healthy level of skepticism any time a broker offers you free gifts, health screenings, or other special deals. Never sign up with a broker who offers you an expensive “sign-up gift” in exchange for providing your Medicare ID number or other personally identifiable information.
- Beware of dishonest brokers who offer “free health screenings.” Some brokers offer this to weed out people who are less healthy. This is called “cherry picking” and is against the Medicare rules.
- Guard your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan info, or banking information to anyone you don’t know. Keep your government ID cards in a safe place.
- Review all health care communications carefully. If you notice any unauthorized changes or charges, alert your plan administrator immediately.
This enrollment season, be sure to do your research and pick the best plan for your medical needs and budget.
If you encounter Medicare fraud, call 800-MEDICARE or file a report online with the Office of the Inspector General.
If you suspect fraud when signing up for ACA coverage, go to healthcare.gov or call the Health Insurance Marketplace call center at 800-318-2596.
For more tips from BBB on avoiding health care scams, check bbb.org/healthcarescam.