Medicare, like most health insurance plans, has an annual enrollment. When the time draws near to that date, it is not uncommon for people to receive phone calls. The calls, legitimate or otherwise, regard upgrading or purchasing insurance. The bad thing is that insurance can be confusing to the insured. Scammers like to target the elderly who may not understand their benefits.
Four Parts of Medicare
It can be difficult to understand the four parts of Medicare. However, it’s fairly plain unless someone is trying to confuse you. Before talking to anyone about Medicare, be sure to know what parts you have. Educating yourself in that way will make spotting a scam that much easier.
Part A: Coupled with Part B, this is often referred to as “the original Medicare.”
- Inpatient care in a hospital
- Inpatient care in a skilled nursing facility (not custodial or long-term care)
- Hospice care
- Home health care
- Care in a religious non-medical healthcare institution
Note: Part A does not offer full health care coverage.
Part B: Considered a necessary partner to Part A.
- Includes regular doctor visits
- Covers medically necessary services (e.g., wheelchairs or surgeries)
- Preventive health care services, like lab tests
Part C: Medicare Part C, aka “Medicare Advantage” combines Medicare Part A and Part B. Plans commonly offered:
- Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO plans)
- Preferred Provider Organizations (PPO plans)
- Private Fee-for-Service (PFFS plans)
- Special Needs Plans (SNP plans)
Part D: Medicare’s Prescription Drug Plan (PDP):
- Helps to cover the cost of prescription drugs
- May help lower prescription drug costs and protect against higher costs in the future
Scammers are ruthless. They will say anything to get your information, including your bank account or social security numbers. Many prey on seniors who need Medicare to survive. Some common scare tactics:
- Caller states that you will lose your coverage unless you join a specific plan.
- You must pay to receive a new Medicare card. This isn’t true. Medicare cards, even temporary ones, are free and are sent automatically.
- Don’t share any information with a caller who threatens to cancel your benefits.
- Don’t give out bank information in return for a deposit or rebate.
Are You a Target?
If you suspect a scam or receive a call by someone stating to be a Medicare representative, use an iPhone app to search by phone number. If the number is blocked, restricted or unavailable, hang up immediately.
Block calls on your iPhone to cut down on annoyance or the urge to answer.
If you suspect Medicare fraud, report it immediately to StopMedicareFraud.gov, or call Medicare directly at 1-800-633-4227.