Scams and Prohibited Marketing Tactics
As many of you already know, the Medicare Part D program is being monitored and regulated by CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services).
As part of these efforts, CMS has provided Medicare Part D carriers with an extensive set of marketing guidelines to protect Medicare beneficiaries. However, even with strict government regulation and monitoring, there are still some reported incidences of fraud associated with Medicare prescription drug plan enrollments.
Here are a few tips to remember so that you can avoid the scams, schemes, and swindlers:
- No cash is needed. - Monthly Medicare Part D premiums can be paid for in several ways, including direct payment withdraw from your Social Security check (it is expected that most people will choose this method of payment) or a monthly bank draft (few people are expected to choose this payment method) or coupon books. However, no cash payment (including checks or money orders) is needed when you enroll in a Medicare Part D or Medicare Advantage plan.
- No Door-to-Door Sales / Limitations on Telephone Solicitation - Medicare Part D providers may not market door-to-door. Telephone solicitation is also restricted by CMS marketing guidelines.
- Feeling pressured? - Time is on your side and there is no reason to act spontaneous. Collect the information you need and discuss the programs with friends or family. Many communities have also set up volunteer hotlines to help with your Medicare plan decision process.
- Uncertain about the sales process? - Ask for the agent's credentials and company affiliation. Only deal with representatives of Medicare plans approved by CMS. As noted by some, it may be a good idea to invite a family member, social worker or a fellow church member to be present during the purchasing process. You may also want to ask for assistance from your insurance agent who you know and may handle your other insurance policies.
- Call Medicare - When in doubt, you can always telephone Medicare at 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) and ask a Medicare representative for assistance.
The "$299 Ring" Scam
As noted by Medicare, if you are eligible for Medicare, you should be on the look-out for callers who try to get you to enroll into non-existent Prescription drug plans. As Medicare notes:
"This scheme is called the "$299 Ring" for the typical amount of money Medicare beneficiaries are talked into withdrawing from their checking accounts to pay for a non-existent prescription drug plan. Consumers can report these cases to their local law enforcement agencies or 1-877-7SAFERX (1-877-772-3379).
Medicare has received complaints from Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts New Jersey and Georgia. Complaints have been made against a number of different companies, but authorities believe that the companies are the same and are typically based outside of the country. As soon as CMS receives these complaints, they are investigated and referred to federal law enforcement authorities.
[As noted above] No Medicare drug plan can ask a person with Medicare for bank account or other personal information over the telephone. No beneficiary should ever provide that kind of information to a caller. They should contact their local police department if they believe someone is trying to take money or information from them illegally.
More on this and other Scams
- You can also refer to similar "Scam" material that we have listed in our Enrollment section page: Part D Scams - Watch Out!!
- ... and finally ... Remember: Never give out your Social Security, Medicare, health plan numbers or banking information to someone you do not