Information Overload: Tips to Avoid Common Pitfalls During Medicare Open Enrollment


COLUMBUS – During the current open enrollment period, if you’re one of the more than 2.5 million Ohioans on Medicare, you’re experiencing plenty of advertisements promising the “latest and greatest” ways to save on your health plans and expenses if “you’ll just call right now!” While some choices may look promising on TV or online, not all plans are created equal, and some offers really are “too good to be true.” 

The following tips from the Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP), which is part of the Ohio Department of Insurance, can help consumers spot misleading or fraudulent marketing and pick a Medicare plan that’s the most suitable option for their needs. Open enrollment runs through Dec. 7. 

Don’t be pressured

  • There’s no such thing as a “limited-time offer” or “special discount if you sign up right away.”
  • You don’t have to decide after a single phone call or website visit.
  • Feel free to ask anyone calling you for their full name and contact information, company license information, or a copy of the plan.
  • Medicare and Social Security will never contact you by phone to offer a health plan. Also, scammers spoof phone numbers to look like a phone call is from a trusted source.
  • You don’t need to provide your Social Security number, bank account, Medicare number, or credit card before you can see plan details or receive a quote for legitimate plans.

Do your homework

  • Understand what each part of Medicare covers and the difference between Medicare, Medicare Supplement insurance (Medigap), Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid.
  • Check the Agent/Agency Locator tool on the Ohio Department of Insurance website to ensure an agent or agency is licensed in Ohio.
  • Keep in mind that not all the benefits you hear about on TV or see on the Internet may be offered by every plan or even be available in your local area.
  • Familiarize yourself with the marketing and sales rules for Medicare health plans and those selling plans.
  • Read the fine print of Medicare Advantage plans. When you hear something is “free” or “zero premium,” you need to exercise caution. While some plans may have “zero co-pays,” those could be limited to your primary care provider. If you see a lot of specialists, you may pay more out of pocket.

Follow basic cybersecurity practices online

  • Beware of clicking on random Internet ads.
  • Know that some websites will change their colors or layout to look like a government site but aren’t affiliated with the government.
  • Use caution with unsolicited messages, texts, or emails.

Seek Medicare information from a trusted resource

As the state’s longtime official Medicare educational resource, OSHIIP is conducting Medicare Checkup events virtually and on-site across the state, and individual virtual counseling to help Ohioans navigate Medicare. OSHIIP’s Medicare experts are also available at 800-686-1578 and A Medicare Checkup events schedule and counseling scheduling tool are available at

The careful evaluation of Medicare plan options is imperative because plans may have different benefits, out-of-pocket costs, covered prescription drugs, in-network physicians, and premiums each year.

Report fraud and predatory sales practices

OSHIIP partners with the Ohio Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) to detect and report wrongdoing. The SMP provides education and response to reported Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse. Contact SMP at 800-488-6070.

If you feel an insurance agent is using high-pressure, fraudulent, or dishonest sales practices, contact the Ohio Department of Insurance at 800-686-1527 and through