LANSING, Mich. (WILX) – The state is warning senior citizens to be wary of scam artists possibly switching their health insurance.
The Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services said it has gotten more fraud complaints this year during the Medicare open enrollment period.
“We were very surprised and unfortunately pretty disheartened,” said Margaret Anderson, Health Alliance Plan Senior Vice President.
Senior citizens are often the target of scammers.
Anderson said she’s never seen so many people fall victim to these scams, and she’s blaming the pandemic.
“This year we had to switch everything to virtual because we can’t have in person meetings any longer,” said Anderson.
HAP is a regional health insurance provider in Michigan.
Anderson said they actually caught on when they noticed a lot of people were dropping their Medicare plans.
“We started making some outreach calls to try and understand what was happening. We found out many of our members were disenrolled without their knowledge,” she said.
Disenrollments began when the scam artists would call someone asking for personal information, including their Medicare number.
Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services director Anita Fox said it’s easier to scam people because habits have changed.
“As people become more comfortable dealing with online and over the phone for their financial services and other things, they might let their guard down a bit. It seems more normal,” said Fox.
Fox said she expects to see similar scams when open enrollment ends under the Affordable Care Act.
That deadline is December 15.
DIFS and MDHHS have some important tips for protecting yourself:
- Never give your Medicare number or other personal information to an unknown caller. You are always able to get information on Medicare plans without providing an ID number. The only time the Medicare ID number is required is when you are actually enrolling in a plan.
- Do not give out your personal information if someone calls or visits your home and says they’re from Medicare. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will never call or send someone to your home to ask for personal information or check your Medicare number.
- Don’t trust caller ID. Scammers use technology to make it look like they are calling from a legitimate business or government agency.
- Ignore anyone who calls saying you must join their prescription drug plan or you will lose your Medicare coverage. While it is true that there may be a penalty if you delay enrolling in the Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D), that coverage is voluntary.
- Don’t trust mailers that appear to be government communications but are advertisements for private companies. These mailers will sometimes have a disclaimer, but it is buried in small print.
If you have questions or concerns about your Medicare coverage, DIFS and MDHHS urge you to contact Medicare directly at Medicare.gov or by calling 800-633-4227.
Contact DIFS at Michigan.gov/DIFSComplaints or by calling 877-999-6442 to file a complaint.
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