DETROIT – The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period (MA-OEP), which allows people currently enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan to switch plans – or drop their MA plan – will come to an end on March 31. Health Alliance Plan (HAP), a Michigan-based nonprofit health plan, is still warning consumers about Medicare scams. Unethical insurance marketers continue to engage unsuspecting Michiganders in conversations about their Medicare coverage, claiming to be a Medicare “representative” and asking for individuals’ Medicare ID number. This often results in unauthorized changes or even a complete change in the consumer’s Medicare Advantage plan.
HAP has enrolled more than 5,000 new members since the beginning of MA-OEP and retained 95 percent of its current MA members. Nearly half of HAP’s new members are in metro Detroit, primarily Wayne County.
HAP recommends that consumers hang up on anyone requesting their Medicare ID number and immediately call the customer service number on the back of their insurance card. At HAP, the customer care team ensures that each member’s coverage is continued and that nothing irregular has occurred with their account.
“We saw an increasing number of reports about aggressive Medicare solicitations aimed at stealing Medicare ID numbers from unsuspecting consumers during this open enrollment period. At HAP we have been doing everything in our power to make sure people are not being scammed,” said Margaret Anderson, chief sales and marketing officer, HAP. “We advise HAP members to treat their Medicare ID with the same high level of protection they give Social Security and credit card numbers. There’s still a couple of weeks left to make sure you are enrolled in the correct plan, and we urge you to check with our customer care team if you have any concerns.”
HAP has several easy tips for protecting your Medicare account:
- Never give your Medicare number or other personal information to an unknown caller.
- Be suspicious of anyone who calls and claims to be able to help you sign up for coverage but needs to confirm your Medicare number, or asks for your Medicare number to provide you with enrollment information.
- If a caller says they are from Medicare and asks for your Medicare number or other personal information, hang up. The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services will never call to ask for personal information or check Medicare numbers.
- Do not trust caller ID. Scammers use technology to hide their real numbers and instead display numbers that look legitimate – some even us the word “government” on the caller ID.
- Anyone who tries to sell you Medicare insurance while claiming to be an “official Medicare agent” is a scammer. Medicare does not use representatives. If someone comes to your door claiming to be from Medicare, remember: Medicare does not send representatives to your home.
- Ignore anyone who calls saying you must join their prescription drug plan, or you will lose your Medicare coverage. The Medicare prescription drug plan (also known as Part D) is completely voluntary.
- Be alert for 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. Read carefully!
HAP wants the community to be safe and smart about Medicare and the potential for Medicare fraud, while taking advantage of Medicare coverage. Consumers with questions about Medicare or HAP can call our customer service team at 800-801-1770, Monday – Friday 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. or view our Medicare Advantage plans.