It’s open enrollment season for health insurance, and scammers are using the occasion to dupe unsuspecting consumers into sharing their personal information. If you are adding or changing your health coverage through Medicare or the Affordable Care Act (ACA) be sure to watch out for scams. For 2020, open enrollment runs through December 7 (Medicare) or December 15 (ACA). Consumers who get health insurance at work should also be on the lookout for phony emails that may appear to come from their employer or a service provider.
This Year’s Common Scams:
You receive a call from someone claiming to be a “Medicare advisor.” The caller tells you that they can enroll you in Medicare or another health insurance program over the phone, according to BBB.org/ScamTracker reports. It’s no hassle for you! All you need to do is provide personal information to get started. Of course, the caller is a scammer, and sharing personal information will open you up to identity theft.
In another version reported to BBB Scam Tracker, the caller tries to frighten you by insisting that your Medicare will be discontinued if you don’t re-enroll. Fortunately, the “Medicare advisor” can fix the situation – if only you share your personal information.
Tips to Avoid Open Enrollment Scams:
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.
For More Information:
During the 2020 enrollment season, be sure to do your research and pick the best plan for your medical needs and budget.
Learn more about open enrollment and spotting a Medicare or ACA scam on the Federal Trade Commission website.
Several experiences with Medicare-related fraud have been reported to BBB Scam Tracker (bbb.org/scamtracker) this year and include phone calls for free back and knee braces and offers of no-cost genetic DNA testing. If you are unsure whether a call or offer is from Medicare, or you gave your personal information to someone claiming to be with Medicare, call 1-800-MEDICARE to report it.
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. If you’ve been the victim of a scam, please report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. By sharing your experience, you can help others avoid falling victim to similar scams.