Medicare Scams And How To Avoid Them

medicare scams and how to avoid them text overlaying image of a hacker behind a computerFraudsters can make a lot of money off of Medicare fraud, which poses a big problem for Medicare enrollees and taxpayers alike. If thieves get their hands on your Medicare number, they can be worth a lot of money. With these numbers Medicare can be billed for services that never even happened. Then the thieves keep the money for themselves. And taxpayers are the ones that pay. The more money that goes towards false health care claims, the less money there is for real health care needs. In the long run, this can lead to higher premiums and stricter rules for Medicare enrollees. So, to help you avoid these scams let’s look at the most common scams and how to avoid them. 

Billing Scams

These scammers network with crooked medical professionals who will bill Medicare for services or medical equipment that they never gave. Scammers can also pretend to be a hospital or medical office and send you a fake bill. They count on the chance that you will pay any bill you get without double checking it against your medical records. So, it’s important to keep track of how you use your Medicare. If you have Original Medicare (Parts A and B), every 3 months you will receive a Medicare Summary Notice (MSN). Or if you have Medicare Advantage, you will get a monthly Explanation of Benefits (EOB). 

 

The MSN and EOB are not bills, instead they are an itemized list with information about Medicare services charged under your Medicare number during those time periods. Specifically, they include how much Medicare paid for your care and how much you owe. If you get a bill that doesn’t match your MSN or EOB, or if the MSN and EOB show services you didn’t receive it could be a scam and you need to contact Medicare to report it.

In-Person Scams

Sometimes these scammers will come directly to your home pretending to be from Medicare or a healthcare company working for Medicare. Be wary! They might try to sell you a service or offer “free” services to get your attention. This is just an attempt to get your personal information. Medicare will never send someone to your house to sell you anything. 

 

Any home health services covered by Medicare will be scheduled ahead of time. Things like nursing care and physical therapy will always be scheduled, you will be expecting them. They will also never ask you about your finances or any personal information as their company will already have all of your information on file.

Phone Scams

Medicare will never call you unless you’ve specifically requested a phone call. If the Social Security Administration needs more information to process your Medicare application they will first send you a letter to set up a time to talk to you on the phone. Other than that the only calls you can expect from Medicare are ones you have personally set up by either requesting a call in writing or by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

 

Even when you do get a formal Medicare call (which is rare), they will never ask for credit card or banking information. Scammers will typically try to get you to share this information, as well as your Social Security and Medicare numbers. Don’t share this information with anyone. To keep yourself safe, make sure you know who is calling you. To be extra sure, you can tell the caller that you will call Medicare directly to handle whatever the problem is. This way when you call you know the number is actually Medicare.

Marketing Scams

Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15th to December 7th every year. Seniors will get a lot of mail about different Medicare plans at this time of year. Some of this information may be legitimate, but some can also be scams. It’s important to separate fact from fiction. If you are new to Medicare, the best way to make sure that you’re getting real information is to use the Medicare Plan Finder. This is the official government site that has all the information about available MEdicare plans. 

 

An even better way to confirm all the information is real is by working with a licensed agent, such as EZ. You can make sure they are real by checking credentials with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and remember, never give out information to anyone calling unsolicited. 

Email Scams

Spam emails are another way that people try to get your Medicare number or other personal information. The email might say it comes from a doctor’s office, a state or local health agency, a hospital, or the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The email scam could come in many different forms, such as a request for personal information because you need a new Medicare card or because changes to Medicare mean you should get money back.

 

No matter what the reason, it’s not right. Nobody from the government, a service provider, or an insurance company will ever send you an email asking for your Medicare number, bank account information, or other personal information. Again, the best thing to do is to close the email without replying or clicking on any of the enclosed links. If you want to know if the email is legitimate, you can call 1-800-MEDICARE or the number on the back of your card.

Tips To Avoid Medicare Scams

There are a handful of ways to avoid Medicare scams. We’ve briefly mentioned them above but here’s a full look at tips to keep you safe.

1.Protect Your Medicare Card

Your Medicare card is just as important as your Social Security Card. Just like you’d never keep your SS card out, do the same with your Medicare Card. Never give your Medicare number out to anyone who isn’t your doctor or an authorized Medicare agent.

2. Be Wary Of Phone Calls

If a government agency or insurance company needs to confirm information, especially sensitive information like a social security or Medicare number, they will send you a letter. Uncle Sam doesn’t make phone calls to people who haven’t asked for them. The Social Security Administration, the IRS, or Medicare will only call you if you have already talked to them and given them permission to call you again. And if Medicare really does call you back, they already have your Medicare number and other personal information on file.

3. You Don’t Need To Activate Your Medicare Card

Scammers often pretend to be from Medicare to get you to “activate” your Medicare card for a fee. Your Medicare card is not a debit card. There is no activation needed to use it and you’ll never have to pay to use your Medicare card.

4. Medicare Reps Are Not Salesmen

Medicare will never contact you trying to sell your services or plans. Your Medicare is something you seek out on your own; they do not try to sell you specific services. The only people that should recommend medical services or products is your doctor.

5. Analyze Medicare Statements

Medicare or your private insurance company sends you claims summary statements with information about the health care you have received. Pay close attention. It’s important to make sure you get all the services and goods that are provided. Report anything you think might be a mistake.

Reporting Medicare Fraud

If you think something is wrong with a Medicare bill, you should first call your doctor, provider, or the facility to see if there was a mistake. You might also want to talk to the people in charge of billing. If you have Original Medicare and are still worried, you can talk to the Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC). Your Medicare Summary Notice (MSN) has information about the MAC, which is the company that handled your Medicare claim. You can also call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227).

 

If you are still worried and have a Medicare Advantage Plan, you can talk to your plan directly. The phone number for your plan should be on the back of your benefit card and on your EOB (Explanation of Benefits. To report fraud, call 1-800-MEDICARE (633-4227), the Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) Resource Center (877-808-2468), or the Inspector General’s fraud hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS (447-8477). If you don’t want to, Medicare won’t use your name in an investigation.

Let EZ Help

Medicare is great, but sometimes it can be hard to understand. Even after signing up, you’ll still have to make some decisions about your health care. Don’t worry. Talk to an EZ agent who can tell you what you need to do to sign up and explain everything to you. EZ can help you enroll, buy a Medicare Supplement Plan, or just think about your options. Our insurance agents work with the best firms in the country. You can get a free comparison of all the plans in your area from them. We’ll talk with you about your medical and financial needs and help you find a plan that meets them all. Call one of our licensed agents at 877-670-3602 to get started.

Do’s And Don’ts for Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period

Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period (AEP) has begun, and it will be over before you know it: it ends on December 15. This time period is your chance to enroll in or make changes to your Medicare plan, including your Part D prescription drug plan, for next year. It’s very important that you’re prepared and know all of your options, and what to do and not do, so you are ready for the year to come. Because if you make a mistake now, it could cost you for the rest of the coming year until the next AEP comes around again.

To help make sure that doesn’t happen, we’ve laid out below all of the essential do’s and don’ts of the Medicare AEP.

Medicare AEP Do’shands looking at paper with magnifying glass

  1. Keep an eye out for any upcoming changes to your plan. Always check your annual notice of change letter that will have come in the mail sometime around September. This letter will have information about your plan for the coming year, like prices, network changes, changes to your drug formulary, and how much your plan will cost you out-of-pocket. Reading this letter carefully will help you determine if your current plan will still be right for you next year, or if it’s time to make a change.
  2. Make a list of all the prescription medications that you take and their dosages. When trying to pick a plan for next year, you will need to make sure that the plan will cover your current prescriptions. Check all available Medicare plans to make sure that the formulary will include your medication and dosages that you’re prescribed. If your current plan has changed in a way that will affect your medications, it’s time to search for a plan that does cover what you need. In addition, consider looking into the generic form of your medications to save a little more money.

Medicare AEP Don’ts

  1. Don’t assume that you can enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan. Many new beneficiaries think that the AEP will be a great time for them to enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan with their original Medicare coverage. However, the only way to enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan is if you currently have a Medicare Advantage Plan and you are switching back to Original Medicare. It’s important to note, though, that you can technically enroll in a Medicare Supplement Plan at any time during the year, but you will have to answer some medical questions in order to qualify.person sitting waiting with a clock nearby
  2. Don’t wait until next year’s AEP. The Annual Enrollment Period is the time for you to make any changes for next year. If you decide to ignore it, or hold off on checking and switching plans, you will be forced to wait until next year’s AEP in October to make any changes. Not only will you lose out on saving by doing this, but you will also risk the possibility of paying more, or of dealing with network changes you did not expect, such as a certain doctor not being covered any longer. 

Need Help?

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is a very important time when you can look for a plan that better suits your needs, and save some money. The AEP is quickly coming to an end, so now is the time to think about your budget, review your out-of-pocket costs, and find ways you can cut down on expenses, such as by purchasing a Medicare Supplement Plan. 

If you need help comparing plans, EZ can help – we will provide you with an agent who will compare plans in your area for free. No obligation. To get free instant quotes for plans that cover your current doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar on the side, or to speak to a local licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

5 Things You Can Do Now to Prepare for Medicare’s Annual Enrollment Period

The Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is back, which means it’s time for you to see if there is a Medicare option that better suits your needs and budget. From October 15th to December 7th each year is the only time you can make changes to your Medicare coverage, so make sure you take advantage of this time! To help you do so, we’ve given some tips to help guide you to more savings, more coverage, and free help.

Changes You Can Make During the AEP

If you do decide that you want to change your plan, you need to know what changes you can make during the AEP. You can:finger pushing a circle with a lot of lines connecting that circle to others

  • Switch from Original Medicare (Parts A and B) to a Medicare Advantage Plan
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare, as well as enroll in Part D or a Medicare Supplement Plan alongside Original Medicare when you switch
  • Switch your current Medicare Advantage Plan to a different one
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that includes drug coverage to one that does not
  • Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that does not have drug coverage to one that does

Planning Ahead

Now that you know what you can do during the AEP, let’s take a look at ways you can be prepared to make the most of it:

  1. Don’t wait until the deadline to make decisions! This is one of the worst things you can do, because not only will you feel rushed to make a decision, but you may end up missing out on savings, such as subsidies that you might qualify for. 
  2. Talk to your doctors and make sure they will accept Medicare in the coming year. Providers can join and leave a plan’s provider network at any time during the year, which could leave you scrambling to find a new doctor that does accept Medicare. If you talk to your doctor in advance, you can begin looking for a new doctor (that you like) who does accept Medicare.
  3. Review your Annual Notice of Change (ANOC), which you should have gotten in the mail this fall. This document lists any upcoming changes to your plan’s coverage, cost, or service area. Make sure that any changes to your plan work in your favor; if they don’t, it might be time to begin searching for a new plan. The best way to do this is to compare plans with a knowledgeable EZ agent.3 prescription bottles
  4. Make a list of all the prescription drugs that you take and check if they will be covered by your current plan in the new year. If not, look for a plan that will cover all your medications.
  5. Working with a reputable EZ agent is a must if you want to find the most savings and the best plans that will provide the coverage you need. Researching and comparing plans from different companies can be time-consuming, confusing, and overwhelming. EZ agents work with the top-rated companies in the nation and can compare quotes within seconds. 

Compare & Find the Perfect Plan Early

The best way to prepare for the Medicare Annual Enrollment Period is to begin comparing plans from different companies. This allows you to digest all of your available options and gives you the power to choose the best one for you.  

Not only will an EZ agent help you with this, but our services come at no cost to you because we just want to help you save money so you can focus on your health. To get free instant quotes on plans that cover your doctors, simply enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to a local licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

5 Things to Consider Before Medicare Annual Enrollment

The Medicare Annual Enrollment is a time for seniors to take a look at their health care needs and coverage. It is starting in a few weeks, beginning October 15th and ending on December 7th. So, now is a good time to start thinking about all the things that you need to consider beforehand so you are fully prepared and have all the coverage you need without any extra out-of-pocket cost.

1. Check to see if your plan’s benefit or cost has changed.illustration of a hand looking at paperwork

Has your current plan premium gone up? Or has your plan gotten rid of some benefits that you might need? Reviewing a change to your Medicare coverage is a major consideration because your Medicare Plan may have changed from the previous year which can affect your coverage and how much you pay out of pocket. Once you review your current plan, and have come to the conclusion that there are significant changes that are out of your budget and needs, then it may be time to shop for a new plan.

2.  See if your prescription drug coverage has changed.

It is no secret that prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries have been on the rise. It is important to review and make sure that your drugs are still covered and also to see if your medication copays have changed or moved to a different drug tier. Also, you will want to double-check and make sure that your preferred pharmacy is still covered under your current plan.

3.  Make sure your doctor is still in your network.

Doctors, hospitals, and other health providers can shift in and out of networks. It is important to make sure that your current doctor that you want to keep seeing is still within your network and is not leaving for the following year.

4.  Consider your costs.papers behind a calculator

Going to the doctor is important, but sometimes if you have a chronic condition, then it is more necessary than others to see the doctor and receive medication regularly. Consider how much you spent annually on premiums, co-pays, and deductibles because sometimes the cost will add up to more than you think. If so then it is time to consider other options to see if there is a plan that is cheaper or has the benefits that you need for your health care needs.

5. Travel Plans

Are you considering traveling in the near future? When you are traveling with Medicare, it can be tricky. That is why it is important to understand how each plan’s travel coverage works. original Medicare does not cover services overseas, however, some Medicare Supplement Plans will. 

If you are looking to enroll in Medicare, purchase a Medicare Supplement Plan, or are just weighing your options before the AEP is over, EZ can help. Our agents work with the top-rated insurance companies in the country and can compare all available plans in your area, at no cost to you. We will go over your medical and financial needs, and help you find a plan that checks all of the boxes. To get free instant quotes on plans that cover your current doctors, simply enter your zip code on the side, or to speak to a local licensed agent, call 888-753-7207.

Don’t Let These Medicare Mistakes Ruin Your Retirement!

Retirement. A simple word that has so much meaning to it. You have been working your whole life looking forward to the day you no longer have to work. Now that the time has finally come, you can begin enjoying the next phase of your life by traveling, relaxing, and checking things off your bucket list. However, there is one thing that you have to get done the right way before you can fully enjoy your retirement. Whether you’ve already enrolled in Medicare, or you’re planning on enrolling soon, you need to avoid these simple Medicare mistakes.

Not Signing Up On Time

piles of coins going up in range with a clock in the background
You will need to sign up for Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period or face a penalty.

The first thing you need to think about when it comes to Medicare is enrolling at the right time. You will need to sign up for Medicare Part B during your initial enrollment period, which is the 3 months before you turn 65, the month you turn 65, and the 3 months after you turn 65. If you opt out of Part B without a valid reason, such as still being on an employer’s insurance, and don’t sign up during your initial enrollment period, then you will end up paying a penalty fee. This means that, when you eventually do sign up for Medicare Part B, you will have to pay an extra 10% in monthly premiums for every 12 month period that you did not enroll. 

For example, if you opt out of signing up for Part B benefits for 2 years, then you will face a 20% penalty fee added on to your monthly Part B premiums. If you opt out for 4 years, then you will pay an extra 40%, and so on. In most cases, you will have to pay this penalty for as long as you have Medicare. 

Getting Taxed 

If you’ve enrolled in Medicare, but still have money left in a health savings account (HSA), then beware of tax penalties. You can continue to use the money that is already in your HSA after enrolling, but if you contribute to your HSA while on Medicare, you will be subject to an income tax penalty on the amount you contribute. In order to avoid this penalty, you need to stop making contributions to your HSA 6 months before enrolling in Medicare. 

Not Considering A Medicare Supplement Plan

Another mistake to avoid is assuming that everything is covered by Medicare, and that you don’t need a Medicare Supplement Plan. For example, Medicare Part B doesn’t usually provide much coverage if you travel overseas. So, if you are planning on taking advantage of your retirement and doing some traveling outside of the U.S., then it would be smart to consider getting a Medicare Supplement Plan. 

A Medicare Supplement Plan will not only help pay for your Part B bills, but standard Medicare Supplement Plans C, D, F, G, M, and N also provide foreign coverage. These plans will cover emergency care during the first 60 days of your trip, and will pay about 80% of your bills. They will cover up to $50,000 in foreign medical bills after you meet your $250 deductible. This $50,000 coverage is available to you every time that you travel outside of the U.S. and its territories.

calendar with the date October 15 on it
Take the time during Medicare Annual Enrollment, which is every year from October 15 to December 7, to go over your coverage.

Missing Your Annual Period To Change Plans

Your plan’s coverage, costs, and benefits change from year to year. If you are enrolled in a plan, you may be tempted to stick with it and avoid the hassle of switching. However, this can cost you in the long run. Take the time during Medicare Annual Enrollment, which is every year from October 15 to December 7, to go over your coverage and make sure it fits your needs and budget. During open enrollment you can:

  • Switch to Original Medicare Parts A and B with or without a Part D plan from a Medicare Advantage Plan, or vice versa.
  • Switch from one Medicare Advantage plan to another.
  • Switch from one Medicare Part D plan to another.
  • Enroll in a Medicare Part D plan if you did not do so when you were first eligible, although a late enrollment penalty may apply.

The open enrollment period is a good time to look at all the plans in your area, find out what their premiums are, and calculate the share of costs. Make sure your pharmacy, hospital, and providers are within the new network if you do plan on switching. Review different Medicare Supplement Plans and see if there is a better fit for you.

Losing Your Medicare Supplement Plan

If you do decide to make a change when open enrollment comes around, make sure you know what you are getting – and what you risk losing. If you decide to switch to a Medicare Advantage plan, you cannot also have a Medicare Supplement Plan. risk spelled out on wooden blocks with a hand on the R

If you bought a Medicare Supplement Plan when you enrolled in Medicare, and then you decide to switch to a Medicare Advantage Plan, you will have to drop your Medicare Supplement Plan. Doing so means that you are at risk of facing underwriting, and if you have any pre-existing conditions then you can be denied coverage or charged more for your plan. The only time to avoid underwriting is when you first become eligible to sign up for Medicare, so be sure that you know what you are doing before you give up your Medicare Supplement Plan.

With there being so many Medicare Supplement Plans, comparing all of them can be time-consuming. EZ will provide you an agent to compare all the different Medicare Supplement Plans within minutes. They will go over all the plans with you, and advise you on which is the best plan for your health and financial needs. All of this will be done at no cost to you, that’s right, it’s free! Enjoy your retirement fully by saving more money. To get you free quotes, enter your zip code in the bar above, or to speak to an agent, call 888-753-7207. No obligation and no hassle!